(This is part of my journey playing through System Shock 2. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)
With both the doctor and the computer yapping at me to get the heck out of the area before it decompressurizes, I make a run for it. It takes crawling through some ducts, steam, and a slight drop to make it. Whew. Safe for the time being.
Through a window (and closed door) I get a glimpse of one of the weird hybrid guys chasing down a lady and shotgunning her to death. It’s like a dude with a slug combover, all rendered with approximately 15 polygons.
With a few cyber-whatsits points to spend, I find a terminal that allows me to pick a few upgrades for my character. I slightly increase my endurance and choose a psi power that allows me to heal myself… with my miiiiind.
So let’s talk about how the game is already freaking me out. Any assumption that a decade-and-a-half has somehow degraded this title’s effectiveness at scares quickly vanished, even with the weird flipper-people walking around. It’s a tested-and-true formula at play here: Isolation, vulnerability, a forced first-person perspective with no peripheral vision, and tons of jump scares. A computer monitor exploding made me start, and this ghost suddenly appearing in a hallway did my nerves no favors either.
It doesn’t take too long before I’m attacked by a pair of hybrids. They’re slow and straight-forward, but with my bad health they are serious threats. Another factor into the heightening fear here is the incredibly effective use of sound, from the mutters of these guys to the screeching of the security system that sends them my way. Thanks, Xerxes! (Xerxes is the AI controlling the Von Braum)
And here we go: The room that broke me all those many years ago. Hanging guy, check. Hybrid that pounces on me from behind while I’m checking out hanging guy, double check. Hey, what else could you throw at me in this room to make me dwell on my impending demise?
I had to ask, didn’t I.