The 10 Best Nightdive Studios Games

The 10 Best Nightdive Studios Games

Since forming in 2012 with the express purpose of acquiring the rights to legendary FPS/immersive-sim System Shock, Nightdive Studios has gone on to become one of the most respected names in remastering classic games. In terms of both updating 1990s classics from one of PC gaming’s golden eras and working toward preserving games, few studios are as prolific and noteworthy as Nightdive. Over the last 12 years of the studio’s existence, it has remastered more than 20 beloved PC and console classics, bringing games to Steam for the first time and freeing other titles from obscurity on dead platforms. And just this year, after more than 8 years in development, Nightdive Studios released one of its best games yet in the ground-up remake of the original System Shock, seeing its original vision come full circle.

Though the studio tends to focus on remastering and porting cult-classic and underappreciated FPS titles to Steam and modern consoles, there are also several noteworthy adventure games and hidden gems from the 1990s that the studio has worked hard to preserve and maintain for future generations. In addition to its remasters of the original System Shock and System Shock 2, Nightdive has helped restore and port legendary titles like Harvester, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, 7th Guest, and other historically significant adventure games to contemporary audiences. Though those titles don’t hold up quite as well as some of the best games Nightdive Studios has worked on, they’re equally as important to the developer’s legacy as a leader in video game preservation.

10. Turok

Turok gameplay

©Turok gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Original Release Date — November 26, 1997
  • Remaster Release Date — December 17, 2015
  • Review Aggregate Score — 85% (Generally Favorable)
  • Steam User Rating — 95% (Overwhelmingly Positive)

Following its original slate of game remasters for Steam, Nightdive would set its sights on remastering and releasing the Nintendo 64 classic Turok. During the process of developing the remaster, the studio became aware of the efforts on the part of Sam Villareal to reverse engineer the game’s original Nintendo 64 source code for PC, hiring Villareal and building the KEX Engine in the process. That KEX Engine has served as the basis for every subsequent Nightdive Studios remaster, meaning that the company’s legacy truly begins with its update to Turok. Fortunately, Turok is more than just an important technological touchstone in the company’s history, serving as one of the best remasters that the studio has worked on and improving the original version dramatically.

With support for dual analog and/or mouse and keyboard control as well as a significant visual upgrade to the game’s textures and performance, Turok‘s remaster runs and plays better than the game ever has while simultaneously feeling like players remember it through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia. Ultimately, though, the original Turok is still a great classic FPS with some inventive level design and platforming, and its availability on PCs and modern consoles is a step in the right direction for the title’s preservation.

9. Shadow Man Remastered

ShadowMan Remastered gameplay

©ShadowMan Remastered gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Original Release Date — August 31, 1999
  • Remaster Release Date — April 15, 2021
  • Review Aggregate Score — 67% (Mixed or Average)
  • Steam User Rating — 95% (Overwhelmingly Positive)

The partnership between Acclaim Entertainment (formerly Akklaim) and Valiant Comics would result in a handful of excellent titles for the Nintendo 64 based on the publisher’s IP. In addition to the three Turok FPS titles that would come from Iguana and Akklaim, Acclaim Entertainment would internally develop and release one of the more unique and overlooked third-person action-adventure games of the 5th generation in the excellent Shadow Man. An early example of a 3D Metroidvania, Shadow Man sees players take on the role of Louisiana native Michael LeRoi as the latest in a long line of individuals to take on the role of the titular hero, traveling back and forth between the world of the living (“Liveside”) and the world of the dead (“Deadside”) to prevent an apocalyptic event.

The original Shadow Man would eventually earn cult-classic status thanks to its excellent atmosphere and narrative, with players being able to overlook the game’s few shortcomings thanks to how excellent its presentation and gameplay are. Nightdive Studios’ remaster of the title helps bring Shadow Man to modern audiences (where it has a strong user rating on Steam) but also improves several aspects of the game’s visuals. Aside from the introduction of 4K resolution and improvements to the game’s lighting and shadows, Shadow Man Remastered introduces content that was cut from the original version of the game, making it the definitive release of the title.

8: Powerslave: Exhumed

Powerslave Exhumed gameplay

©Powerslave gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Original Release Date — September 19, 1996
  • Remaster Release Date — February 10, 2022
  • Review Aggregate Score — 81% (Generally Favorable)
  • Steam User Rating — 92% (Very Positive)

Originally released for MS-DOS, Sega Saturn, and PlayStation, Powerslave is an anomaly in the wave of 90s first-person shooters hoping to cash in on the success of Doom, thanks to its unique setting. Rather than utilize a common sci-fi or fantasy setting in line with other games of the era, Powerslave sees players traversing through the Egyptian city of Karnak in the modern era as they contend with both aliens and supernatural forces of Ancient Egypt and Egyptian mythology. As such, the game features some truly excellent weapons and enemy design. Further, Powerslave is one of the initial first-person shooter titles to dabble with both RPG mechanics and Metroidvania elements, with players needing to backtrack to previously visited areas and using newly acquired abilities to progress.

Nightdive Studios’ remaster of Powerslave, Powerslave Exhumed is arguably the best version of the game thanks to how it takes a “best of both worlds” approach to its content. The original MS-DOS, Saturn, and PS1 versions of Powerslave are all slightly different from one another. Conversely, Powerslave Exhumed takes the disparate elements from all three original versions and retrofits them into a singular vision of the game including all of the original content that was different across platforms. Powerslave Exhumed is also yet another game to benefit from Nightdive Studios’ KEX Engine and even features CRT filters to replicate the experience of playing the game on 5th-generation consoles.

7. Doom 64

Doom 64 gameplay

©Doom 64 gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Original Release Date — April 4, 1997
  • Remaster Release Date — March 20, 2020
  • Review Aggregate Score — 76% (Generally Favorable)
  • Steam User Rating — 94% (Very Positive)

Though players would eventually get an official Doom 3 many years later, Doom 64 is the actual true sequel and follow-up to the events of Doom II and Final Doom. The title was originally built using a modified version of the Doom Engine that allowed for new kinds of level layouts, lighting, and enemy sprites. After years of exclusivity on the Nintendo 64, Nightdive Studios and Bethesda would partner up to remaster the title and bring it to modern consoles and PCs in conjunction with the release of Doom Eternal, introducing an entirely new generation of FPS fans to what many consider to be the best of the “classic” Doom titles.

Notably, the Nightdive remaster of Doom 64 makes some additions to the base game that cement it as the definitive version of the title. The most important of these is the inclusion of secret levels as regular stages to accompany the game’s 28 base stages. Further, Doom 64‘s remaster also features new story content that accomplishes two important feats. First, it’s much more obvious where Doom 64 takes place in the timeline as the “fourth” game in the original chronology following Doom, Doom II, and Final Doom. Second, the new story content connects the classic run of Doom games to the new era of Doom that begins with 2016’s Doom and continues in 2020’s Doom Eternal.

6. Turok 2: Seeds of Evil

Turok 2 gameplay

©Turok 2 gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Original Release Date — December 10, 1998
  • Remaster Release Date — March 16, 2017
  • Review Aggregate Score — 86% (Generally Favorable)
  • Steam User Rating — 93% (Very Positive)

Nightdive’s remaster of the original Turok brought with it the promise of the studio remastering its much-loved (and arguably superior) sequel, Turok 2. Sure enough, the remaster of Turok 2: Seeds of Evil would arrive just under two years following the release of the original Turok remaster, and the game holds up surprisingly well despite its age. Between its inventive level design, incredibly unique and imaginative weaponry, and greater polish, Turok 2 is perhaps the best game in the trilogy of Turok titles released for the Nintendo 64, and its remaster only serves to hammer that point home further. Of course, part of the game’s enduring appeal rests on its fan-favorite multiplayer mode, and Nightdive even went to great lengths to improve that as well.

Nightdive’s remaster of Turok 2 includes not only the classic Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Frag Tag modes, it also adds the brand new Last Turok Standing mode. In this frantic twist on the classic Turok 2 multiplayer, every player spawns into a level with an increased health pool and immediate access to the game’s full arsenal of weapons. Victory in this Turok-themed twist on the Battle Royale genre is earned by being the last player standing, though that’s often easier said than done. The Nintendo Switch version of the remaster would ship without multiplayer, but in a move illustrating its commitment to its titles post-launch, Nightdive would add the component in a later patch.

5. Quake (Enhanced)

Quake gameplay

©Quake gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Original Release Date — June 22, 1996
  • Remaster Release Date — August 19, 2021
  • Review Aggregate Score — 81% (Generally Favorable)
  • Steam User Rating — 96% (Overwhelmingly Positive)

At three different points in the early days of the FPS genre, id Software would come along and completely redefine the tenets of the genre with its games. Following the one-two punch of Wolfenstein 3D and Doom in 1992 and 1993, the developer’s next major title would be Quake in 1996. Like both Wolfenstein and Doom before it, Quake‘s release would help usher in a new era of first-person shooters thanks to its twin emphasis on atmospheric single-player content and a genre-defining online multiplayer mode that is responsible for coining the term “Deathmatch”. To say that first-person shooters haven’t been the same since Quake is an understatement, and the title’s continued relevance speaks volumes regarding its quality and brilliance. When it came time for the game to receive a modern remaster, the obvious candidate for the task was Nightdive Studios.

Like its previous remasters, Nightdive’s Quake Enhanced takes the original game and brings it to modern consoles and PCs with a slew of improvements and additions. Beyond featuring better graphical rendering and performance (as well as improved online functionality), the Enhanced version of Quake includes the “Scourge of Armagon” and “Dissolution of Eternity” mission packs, a brand-new pack of missions co-created by modern stewards of the Wolfenstein franchise Machine Games, and the full Nintendo 64 port of the original Quake (Quake 64) within the game’s Add-Ons menu.

4. System Shock 2

System Shock 2 gameplay

©System Shock 2 gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Original Release Date — August 11, 1999
  • Remaster Release Date — June 18, 2013
  • Review Aggregate Score — 92% (Universal Acclaim)
  • Steam User Rating — 95% (Overwhelmingly Positive)

Often considered one of the greatest games of all time and an incredibly important title in both the FPS and Immersive Sim genres, System Shock 2 is undoubtedly a hugely influential game whose legacy would continue with developer Ken Levine’s work on its spiritual successor BioShock. However, where Irrational Games (who co-developed the original System Shock 2) would go on to develop BioShock and BioShock Infinite before eventually closing its doors, original stewards of the franchise Looking Glass Studios would, unfortunately, meet its demise not long after System Shock 2‘s release, leaving the intellectual property rights to the series in limbo. When Nightdive Studios formed, one of its key missions was to secure the rights to System Shock and develop remasters of the original two titles, remake the first game, and develop a sequel.

As one of the studio’s first remasters and a key component of its existence in the first place, System Shock 2‘s re-release on Steam is an example of game preservation done right. Rather than tinker with aspects of the game that would result in deviation from what makes it special in the eyes of fans in the first place, Nightdive Studios’ remaster of System Shock 2 brings the title back to PC completely intact with a focus on accessibility over improvement. Almost 30 years since the original release of System Shock 2, the game still feels ahead of its time in terms of its gameplay even if the visuals are starting to show their age.

3. Blood: Fresh Supply

Blood: Fresh Supply gameplay

©Blood gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Original Release Date — May 21, 1997
  • Remaster Release Date — May 9, 2019
  • Review Aggregate Score — 82% (Generally Favorable)
  • Steam User Rating — 95% (Overwhelmingly Positive)

The original Blood is one of the unsung heroes of 90s first-person shooters, merging the FPS genre with horror in a way that few games before it had and going on to inspire a slew of other important titles. As a certified cult-classic FPS, Blood‘s absence on modern PC storefronts would feel like a glaring omission and oversight, something that Nightdive Studios would work to correct with its remaster and re-release of the game, Blood: Fresh Supply. Working in conjunction with publisher Atari, Nightdive’s remaster of Blood would help to shine a light on one of the more underappreciated and lesser-known FPS titles of the “Doom clone” era that has more than enough personality and identity to stand on its own two feet as a unique and worthwhile game.

Outside of the expected modern improvements that Blood: Fresh Supply makes over the original release (improvements to graphics and performance, better operation on modern machines, modern technological features like 4K support and anti-aliasing), players can expect to find the core gameplay of Blood fully intact. Fresh Supply includes both the original game and all additional episodes, and its challenging combat, unique horror atmosphere, and inventive weaponry (including voodoo dolls, sticks of dynamite, and a pitchfork) make it a must-play for fans of classic first-person shooters.

2. Star Wars: Dark Forces Remaster

Star Wars: Dark Forces gameplay

©Star Wars: Dark Forces gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Original Release Date — March 8, 1995
  • Remaster Release Date — February 28, 2024
  • Review Aggregate Score — 83% (Generally Favorable)
  • Steam User Rating — 88% (Very Positive)

One of Nightdive Studios’ best games to date is also its most recent, the remaster of the legendary Star Wars FPS Dark Forces. The original Dark Forces was a surprising entry into the first-person shooter genre in the mid-90s, with LucasArts games going so far as to make its own proprietary game engine for the title (the Jedi Engine) rather than use the id-Tech Engine (Doom) or Build Engine (Duke Nukem 3D). As a result, Dark Forces introduced some new features to the FPS genre that were unheard of at the time of its release, such as the ability to look up and down and having levels with multiple floors.

While later games in the series (beginning with the sequel, Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight) would introduce melee weapons in the form of lightsabers, the original Dark Forces is a pure first-person shooter featuring Star Wars weaponry. Nightdive Studios’ remaster of the game introduces brand-new cutscenes that do a phenomenal job at retelling Dark Forces‘ excellent narrative starring erstwhile Star Wars hero Kyle Katarn, and the title itself runs phenomenally on modern hardware. In particular, Dark Forces is a delight on the Steam Deck where it maintains a rock-solid 90 FPS and looks spectacular.

1. System Shock

System Shock gameplay

©System Shock gameplay screenshot - Original

  • Original Release Date — September 23, 1994
  • Remake Release Date — May 30, 2023
  • Review Aggregate Score — 78% (Generally Favorable)
  • Steam User Rating — 91% (Very Positive)

As Nightdive Studios’ first true “ground-up” development project, System Shock is an incredibly impressive game. Yes, the title is a remake of a beloved FPS/Immersive Sim title from 1994, but the lengths that Nightdive has gone to to modernize and improve the original game while retaining its core gameplay and atmosphere are commendable. As both a standalone title and a remake, System Shock is an example of how to properly bring a classic title into the modern era, and it smooths over the many rough edges of the original experience that the passage of time has not been kind to.

Aside from its excellent foundation provided by the original System Shock, Nightdive’s remake completely overhauls the visuals, combat, and puzzle solving to be more in line with what players would expect from a modern title. The end result is that the System Shock remake deftly straddles the line between classic and modern gameplay. System Shock looks and plays great on modern PC hardware, its chilling atmosphere and environmental storytelling still strike a chord, and what Nightdive has been able to accomplish with making the game’s combat more palatable is amazing. Remaking a beloved title like System Shock was always going to present a challenge, but Nightdive made it worth the long wait.

To top