Many might know Shadowrun, and more yet might now Shadowrun Returns: a tactical turn-based RPG set in a cyberpunk/fantasy world that fuses the best of tech and magic.
I can’t really speak for how Shadowrun Returns maintains the rules and setting, for I’ve admittedly never played the original game. I have, however, recently spent many an hour playing through the entirety of the base campaign, and then some extra campaigns, and I can honestly say: I love this game.
“Let’s start first with the basics, and the most important aspect for me: The game runs wonderfully on my old toaster of a computer. Requirements are fairly low, and the game ran smoothly throughout the entire gameplay”
Entering the game, you are presented with character choices. There are a few different type of characters you can choose, some that are more proficient in the physical aspect of fights, others in magic, and others in technological aspects. Although the game doesn’t offer much in terms of customizing the looks of the characters, it still has various choices for hair styles and colors, skin, and character avatar, so you’re certain to find something you’re at the very list ok with.
Whatever type of character you choose, however, the fact remains that you are now a shadow runner; a man often hired to run jobs of various types and difficulties (and, perhaps, legality).
The story begins when you’re called by an old shadow runner friend who has died. That’s right, the man left a dead switch that would call you and request you to find his murderer, for a price, of course.
“I’m usually rather picky when it comes to stories in games that offer a lot to read in them, particularly if they’re based around characters, and this Shadowrun campaign does offer lots and lots of it”
Aside from the strategy/tactical aspect of the gameplay, there is a lot of background story to be told, a lot of extra information and logs that, although you don’t necessarily need to read, they bring a lot more to the world when you do, and a whole lot still of characters – admittedly some more complex than others.
And let me tell you, this game ticked all my boxes. It takes a very good story to make you like a character that starts off dead, and yet I totally loved him. I felt compelled to find his murderer and bring him justice just because he seemed like he’d been as good a friend as you could get in that world.
“The story was solid, although I do wish there had been more than the base campaign to play by the original makers; the characters were all likable (or appropriately non-likable for the bad guys 😉 ), and the world – the world is simply fantastic”
The mix of technology and magic isn’t even weird, it’s melded perfectly to create a perfectly reasonable world with strict rules of what can and can’t be done, and it’s somehow not strange at all to find yourself going down the street and suddenly meeting an elf, or a troll.
The art style is also very well done, though it borders on comic book style; the settings are beautifully put together, the mix of drab and brightness make for an interesting city, even if they do get a bit basic and feel slightly repetitive as you progress in the story.
The characters are nice, and the offered list of powers and perks for the various types, although they might not span into big skill trees, are sufficient to keep you entertained. The music, sounds and FX are not only fitting, but also very well done.
“As far as the gameplay aspect goes, it’s a very typical tactical RPG: you take turns to move from cover to cover and complete your mission”
I rather liked the implementation of deckers, a type of hackers, but it really felt like they didn’t have that much use in the game: when they were required I couldn’t usually bring more than one to the virtual world, or the trip to it was just too short to make it overly worthwhile.
The virtual maps though had an interesting feature that added to their complexity: an alarm would sound and rain hell on you if you were careless there.
“When it comes to character interactions is another part where the game shines, for you have various choices that can turn you into a good, neutral, or bad person according to the choices you make, and what you tell and how you treat people around you”
Like I said, the basic campaign is beautifully put together and a joy to play through, but it does feel too short and it leaves you wanting for more.
The upside? The game allows you to make your own campaigns: with a large community on the workshop, there are plenty of extra campaigns available for download and playing if you’re not into making them. Some are better than others, so it might take some trial and error before you find one you like.
Overall, I was very pleased with my play-through of Shadowrun Returns, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys some good storytelling.
Great game with wonderful writing and excellent support from the community. If you enjoy this type of game with this specific type of setting, then you definitely wont be disappointed!