System Shock 2 helped define survival horror — but it’s still in a league of its own
The engineering deck in System Shock 2, the classic Looking Glass game released 20 years ago today, is one of the most brilliantly nerve-wracking virtual spaces ever created.
System Shock 2 wasn’t a huge success at launch. It was sandwiched between Half-Life and Deus Ex, two games that redefined the sci-fi first-person shooter. And for many years, it was almost impossible to play legally, thanks to its bizarrely tangled copyright status. But it inspired a generation of iconic survival horror games like Prey, Dead Space (conceived as a System Shock sequel), and most notably BioShock, created by System Shock 2’s designer Ken Levine. And even after two decades, nothing has quite captured the same stark creepiness.
Survival horror games…