After a few more sequels in the coming years, BioShock went quiet for a long time, with the last mainline installment being BioShock Infinite back in 2013. Fan prayers for a new game seem to be answered, with rumors indicated that the new BioShock (being developed by Cloud Chamber) will be revealed during The Game Awards presentation next week. It remains to be seen exactly what shape this new BioShock project may take, but with an underwater utopia and city in the sky already done, it would be very compelling if the creative team looked to System Shock as a source of inspiration.
It’s tough to imagine a list of the most impactful video games of all time that doesn’t include System Shock 2. Despite the fact that it was launched in 1999, this highly praised PC classic has had a significant influence on many elements of game design, notably in the first-person genre. Following up on its popularity, Irrational Games released BioShock in 2007, which is frequently regarded as the spiritual successor to the System Shock series in terms of gameplay and tone.
As stated, System Shock has its place in gaming history as a highly influential game in a multitude of areas. From its level design, sense of atmosphere, and overall progression, these games have gone on to change the way many developers approach their own projects. The influence of System Shock can easily be seen on BioShock’s sleeves, essentially bringing that same experience but this time in an underwater setting.
The gaming landscape has changed so much since the first BioShock game, and even moreso since System Shock hit the scene. There have been plenty of other franchises that incorporated these titles’ ideas into their own design, and have arguably made their mechanics even better. The original BioShock was lauded for its interesting setting and often uncomfortable atmosphere that surrounded the player, truly immersing gamers into a strange world under the sea, though many strong settings have appeared since.
In the same way that System Shock had an undeniable impact on the industry, BioShock left its own mark in many ways. The game’s careful attention to detail and clever storytelling can be seen sprinkling into other franchises over the years, with Dead Space being just one example. Now, with a new BioShock rumored to make its worldwide debut in a matter of days, it would be poetic for the franchise to once again look to its predecessor for guidance. The new BioShock can’t simply retread Rapture or Columbia as its setting, especially after such a lengthy absence from the gaming world. A fresh new spin needs to be brought to the table, and System Shock may hold the answer to this question.
With modern gaming technology allowing developers to realize their vision more than ever, and creepy experiences like Resident Evil Village and The Last of Us 2 available, a new BioShock will need to work extra hard to stand out. A System Shock remake has been shown off in recent years, with the setting appearing to be extremely spooky and a solid update on the claustrophobic feel of the original. A more grungy, mechanical, sci-fi inspired setting may prove to be a fun twist on what is expected to come from a BioShock location.
The new BioShock can also look to Dead Space in this regard, as the environments are packed with character, and can help tell the story naturally. To really sell an unsettling vibe throughout the game, Cloud Chamber could create an artifical intelligence similar to SHODAN from System Shock 2. An eerie, ever-present digital interface that watches the player’s every move, and perhaps can even alter the levels in real time based on player behaviors, would ensure a consistently scary and engaging experience.