Authored Look of Underworld Ascendant for System Shock 3!


I was wondering if System Shock 3 will get an authored look like the one from Underworld Ascendant, too.

Something special, cartooy, very colored with overdrawn creatures…


Please, no…

I love the look for Underworld, but System Shock is more somber. Cartoony looks would clash with the theme.


Oh gawdd… that’s what made Bioshock stink from the opening scene.


I’m sure it will have its own distinctive look. Copping the look of a fantasy role playing game doesn’t make a lot of sense in this case.

I’m no art director, but I feel like the core of System Shock’s art direction should be 1) That it should be scary/uncomfortable, and 2) That it should impart a sense of history in its world; a sense of what was and the people that made it/lived there.

I’d be interested to see the series explore a new kind of location though, maybe terrestrial, or on another world/moon.


But couldn’t this be applied to Underworld Ascendant, too? A dungeon should be dark, gritty, scary with scary monsters.
And it should show the history of the people who lived there.

I wonder why a cartoony, colorful look is accepted for Underworld Ascendant but it wouldn’t be accepted for System Shock 3…

I wonder why a cartoony, colorful look is accepted for Underworld Ascendant but it wouldn't be accepted for System Shock 3...

Probably based on the past games in the series. Shock 2 had a reasonably realistic art style. Underworld did too, but all the sprites were an exception and looked like something out of a comic book.
Check out the UA gameplay video just released anyway, it doesn’t look that stylized and cartoony aside from the enemies. Looks quite nice, actually.
Edit: well OK, it’s highly stylized, especially anything dynamic, but the static environments do sometimes look reasonably true to life.


Colourful is good, SS1 & 2 had lots of colour: MedSci was blue, Engineering was brown / amber, the Groves were green, Rec was purple.


That’s a good point that we should all keep in mind. SS makes good use of primaries and blinkenlights and contrasting scenes and color themes but it doesn’t look like a bunch of clowns running around in a circus with blood rivulets exploding out of people that looks like molten crayons.


System Shock may have bright hues, but if this game takes a horror direction, dynamic lights & shadows, ala Doom 3, might amp up the fear.

I can’t say much anybody hasn’t said, but I hope Tron styled art appears in cyberspace–I loved the neon touch everything–so sci-fi, so futuristic!


Tron is indeed da best sh1t since light cycles.


I think the art style in terms of architecture could follow a similar look of Blame! Which is a Manga which follows a character who in fact kinda dungeon crawls through an insane cyberpunk/sci-fi world in which its the world has expanded beyond the galaxy, (huge mega structure) to find a special DNA strain that can access this universe’s version of the internet called the Netsphere. If you access it without it the safe guard systems basically come out of no where and try and kill you. its a pretty dark art style but I think System Shock 3 could go. I mean the last one was 43 years after the first one right? so why not go even further.


Different goals. I think Underworld is first and foremost framed as a role-playing experience, so they want to emphasize that lineage first and foremost. I disagree that it’s “cartoony,” but certainly less grim. They’re trying to evoke both the pen-and-paper legacy of role-playing games and a more “fun” tone that those experiences often projected.

System Shock, on the other hand, is first and foremost a horror story, at least in my mind. It’s got a lot of classic Cronenberg-esque body-horror, as well as being very cyberpunk, and I think that’s pretty core to what the franchise is.

I think the equivalent of Underworld’s art direction for System Shock would be retro-futurism, to make it look like 80s cyberpunk a la Blade Runner or Total Recall. Which could still work with horror, honestly (Alien Isolation did the retro-future thing in a horror game without being campy).


System Shock already has a look though, it’s not really cartoony or hyper stylized. I wouldn’t mind that in another cyberpunk game, go full on Ghost In The Shell or whatever. But for SS3 it wouldn’t feel like a continuation of that world and its atmosphere I don’t think. It’s like if they made another Silent Hill game and decided it should have a cel-shaded anime look, that could be awesome in its own right but the problem is it’s got the name on it already and wouldn’t feel like part of that universe either, it would probably have to be a spinoff. There aren’t really enough Shocks to start doing spinoffs in my opinion. If they made a mobile Shock spinoff with a radically different look I wouldn’t mind.


I have the distinct impression that your intention here is not to have a serious conversation about an art style for SS3, but just to complain about an art style for Underworld Ascendant that you don’t personally like.

But OK, let’s consider art for SS3. It was anything but somber! Other than some gray walls and floors, there was color all over the place: electric blue panels and borders, bright turquoise and mid-green and silvery and copper-colored paneling, bright red critical controls areas, bright green text, bright orange object diagrams, bright yellow enemy diagrams, bright blue laser rapier, brightly colored energy weapons fire… The list could go on, and I haven’t even mentioned that cyberspace was (other than sentries) entirely bright primary colors.

It’s also worth mentioning the pre-game part of System Shock 2. From the neon of the noodle place to the training areas, there were all kinds of bright colors there, too.

As I think about those games, my feeling is that a grimdark Quake palette would be exactly the wrong thing for SS3. Unity 5 (6?) lighting could be a very good fit for a game that tries to evoke (without copying) the visual style of the first two System Shock games.


If it’s cyberpunk it should have some neon in it. Just saying.


Well, that would be a pithier way of putting it, yes. :slight_smile:

Actually, maybe that does speak to a better question: does System Shock 3 need to consciously draw on “cyberpunk” for its mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics?

SS1 did. But SS2 (which more people have played) was more of a “terror aboard an isolated train/sub/spaceship” game. Which should be more of an inspiration for the world and look of SS3?

Did the cyberpunk wave pretty much crest with The Matrix? Or is it still a living and recognizable content form that today’s gamers want to see realized as a game?

In other words, what should be the main source of inspiration for the MDA features of SS3?


I’d stick with cyberpunk, as per the villain.


Considering games like Satellite Reign and Shadowrun and maybe even Cyberpunk 2077 (although this game is still very far off right now), could be that we see a return to the 80s – lots of neon, crazy hair, grimy streets.

To be honest, though, I kind of want a cyberpunk flavoured immersive sim more than I want a game that’s cyberpunk first and foremost. I think it should be fine keeping cyberpunk in the background and having the gameworld look more… ordinary/utilitarian and both SS games have been taking place in locations that kind of demand that. You don’t really expect to see a lot of bright neon signs on a space station.


Yep, the themes of cyberpunk, not so much the style.


Aside from philosofical themes, Matrix wasn’t a good example of Cyberpunk setting.
I prefer the setting, so, the more neon and chrome, the better. The first game is a good example of good setting, IMO.

The classic Cyberpunk stream is rare to find, so I think it’s better sticking to it.