Game Reviews PC Xbox

System Shock Pinball Xbox and Steam Deck Review

During The year in review episode of Throwdownshow gaming round-up, I said “Pinball M (released Nov 2023 for free) is one of my games of the year. Its morbidly beautiful, well-designed horror theme was executed perfectly and I look forward to seeing what other creepy tables will arrive next”. Surprisingly, I didn’t have to wait long as we now have our first new offering which is System Shock Pinball.

System Shock Pinball is based on the classic 1994 Sci-Fi first-person shooter PC game. In May of 2023, developers Nightdive Studios released a remake of System Shock. I have not played this remake but what I can tell is that all of the updated sights and sounds from the remake are the assets used in System Shock Pinball.

You play as a security hacker on the Citadel Station intending to take down the evil SHODAN AI that has taken over and is now sending out cyborgs, mutants, and robots to stop you while also constantly talking trash about you and the human race over the intercom.

Besides the backstory of System Shock, this Pinball table at first glance is badass. It looks like you are on a Star Trek Borg cube with cyborgs and other creatures roaming around the table.

The lighting and table design are stunning. I’m over the moon that Zen Studios created Pinball M and thrilled to see dark, horror-themed IPs materialize in this space.

I consider the gameplay to be on the mild to challenging scale. Upon the first ball shot, the speed of the table is mild. However, as you work your way up the middle of the table and start unlocking some of the other areas, the ball speed will pick up and the upper table flippers will become more of a necessity to use for slowing down or changing the returning ball’s direction instead of trying to help boost your score with ricochet shots. Oh, and all the while SHODAN is mouthing off at you.

There is also a good amount of unexpected music which changes as you progress. The main reason I love these Zen Studios Pinballs is because of how detailed they are and how the table changes as your score increases. The gameplay always seems to produce this high-tension excitement which motivates me to keep playing so I can see the next table transformation.

Like the other tables in Pinball M, your earned points can be used to unlock new items for your table such as ball skins & trails, or new items for your System Shock play corner. All of this is great and the table fits perfectly alongside the others in the collection. However, I encountered an issue in the Xbox version that caused the game to randomly crash twice. At first, I thought it was one of the new items I applied so I returned the table to default and during one play session, it crashed again.

Once back in Pinball M, I played a few games on the other table with no issues so it is mainly an issue with the new table as I said it is random, and hopefully Zen Studios is aware and looking into the matter. On the flip side, I also played System Shock Pinball on Steam via my Steam Deck and did not encounter any such crashes. The table runs great on high settings on the Steam Deck just like the rest in the collection so no need to change settings if you bump up the graphical settings from the default medium.

Overall, System Shock Pinball may not be a game or franchise you’re familiar with but when viewed as a Sci-Fi horror table it delivers on all fronts. Great visuals, challenging gameplay, creepy audio tunes that aren’t stock audio samples table upgrades that can be earned by simply playing the game, and no microtransactions just like all the other tables. And if you are still on the fence, just play the demo and give it a go.  

System Shock Pinball is available now on Xbox, PlayStation, Steam, Epic Games Store, and Nintendo Switch. It’s also worth mentioning that purchasing System Shock in Pinball M will grant you access to the age-appropriate version in Pinball FX and vice versa.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This review was based on a digital copy of System Shock Pinball provided by Zen Studios.

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