6 Sep

Shadowrun Returns

Filed under: PC Games 2 Responses

Shadowrun 2013-09-05 00-33-17-03

Orks and Trolls with guns and in Lone Star uniforms. That’s what you’ve always wanted in an RPG, right?

Shadowrun Returns was the first game I actually backed on Kickstarter, mainly because I was a fan of the franchise in high school and still own a 2nd edition version of the rulebook. This game was heavily anticipated and received a ton of publicity so I won’t go into explaining the lore.

  • It’s very much a low budget game. No voice acting, 2D graphics, short game etc. All this is expected so I won’t be slagging it too much. Still, I am disappointed in the clunky user interface. There’s bad writing on the UI and item descriptions, you can’t even read the full text of the descriptions when buying items or choosing shadowrunners to hire, it’s occasionally hard to target enemies who are standing behind tall objects on the isometric map etc. All of those things shouldn’t cost much money to get right. They could also have given us a combat mode on and off button. Hey, if the player wants to have combat mode off while enemies are shooting, that’s not the designers’ problem.

  • I actually quite like the environmental art and the character portraits, even if they do get a bit too cartoonish at times. Reminds me of the Baldur’s Gate days. The streets are too empty though. They need to have more people walking around as decorative background to make it feel more like a modern metropolis.
  • The game is a bit too short and it looks like some levels / missions were cut due to lack of time. The segue from serial killer hunter to world saving hero feels too abrupt. I guess player made modules are meant to pick up the slack.

Shadowrun 2013-09-03 00-29-20-76

Is it just me or could this scene come right out of the Baldur’s Gate era?
  • I do like the writing of the dialogue and I love how much text descriptions they used to flesh out the world. As for the overall story, I very much enjoyed playing a private eye but when the story turned to world saving mode, it became just like any other fantasy RPG. In general, I would like to see more RPGs that have a more modest scope like how the Dead Man’s Switch campaign starts out as. Not a mover and shaker in the world, not an epic, just one person making his or her way through the world. And less good people please. It feels like everyone in this campaign is a good guy eager to help out the player, which doesn’t fit well in the gritty Shadowrun setting at all. Let’s have more selfish, uncaring NPCs next time around please?
  • Game mechanics are okay, not great, just okay. I understand that it would be impossible to replicate the pencil and paper mechanics exactly, but the ones they have here feels too generically video gamey to me. Game balance is also ridiculous. Character progression is far too fast. I understand that it’s a short game and they need the main character to hit the end of the progression curve before the game ends, but the Karma points come in so fast it’s like free candy. Melee combat seems weak to me compared to ranged weapons, and how is Quickness not the best stat ever since it boosts accuracy and makes you unhittable.
  • I think the game is a bit too easy and I played at hard difficulty but the last fight is completely crazy. It’s like the developers overcompensated for having a relatively easy and short game by absurdly ramping up the difficulty of the final boss fight. I think that depending on who you bring to the fight, it may be almost impossible for some teams. Thankfully the save system retains all previous checkpoints, you can always go back to pick a new party.

Shadowrun 2013-09-05 14-30-31-13

You’ve always wanted to set fire to corp offices, right?
  • This is exacerbated by the fact you’re forced to bring along Harlequin to the final battle. In order to have much of a chance, you’ll most likely have to bring along the Tir Tairngire elite guard as well. It doesn’t help that Harlequin is a useless party member who can hardly hit anything with his sword. Yet this is the iconic Shadowrun character who is so powerful that in the Shadowrun sourcebooks they don’t give him any stats, simply telling the GM that Harlequin automatically succeeds in anything that he attempts to do and that there is nothing the PCs can do to harm him. It’s ridiculous since the only reason you’d want to include him at all is to please long time pencil and paper fans. Including him and then making him pathetic seems like a deliberate slap in the face.

All that said, I very much enjoyed playing this, warts and all. After all, it’s Shadowrun, a game that I’ve wanted to see on the PC for years and years (I never played the old console games). As such I’m very glad I backed its Kickstarter and look forward to receiving the Berlin campaign when it comes.

Written on September 6 2013 and is filed under PC Games. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Shadowrun Returns”


Worthwhile for someone who’s not familiar with SR? I’ve been mulling over getting it once they port it to Android, as I need a little gaming for my tablet.


Probably not I think, at least not at full price. The game more or less assumes that you have at least a passing familiarity with the Shadowrun world. It doesn’t explain why there are elves, orks, dwarves and trolls running around the world in the 2050s and why magic coexists with cyberware and jacking into the net.

The tactical combat is okay but not great. Character progression is pretty crap as I stated here.

So the real draw is the setting and the story. You should probably read up a bit on the Shadowrun world, decide whether or not you’d be interested in playing through a story set in that world and go from there.

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