Recently Completed:Shadowrun Returns
Time Spent:50+ Hours and counting (though a single play through of the main campaign (assuming you complete most or all of the sidequests) will take 12 hours or so.
The Story: You are a Shadowrunner! Hoi chummer, finish your soykaf, cut the drek and jack in.
+ The writing for the primary campaign ďDead Manís SwitchĒ is really quite good. With very minimal handholding or exposition regarding the game world youíre dumped into a murder mystery that quickly spirals from bad to worse. The game draws you in and very much feeds the ďjust one more mission before I call it a nightĒ feeling that will leave you going in to work the next day feeling like a zombie but being totally ok with it.
+ Character building. Some aspects of this can be considered negative. You can mix and match skills and get stat scores that are all but impossible in the pen and paper game but I liked that they provided far more choice than in the old SNES (the one character who was an unlikely blend of cybered street samurai, decker and mage) and Genesis (Where you at least chose street samurai, mage or decker starter builds) games while keeping to the tradeoff between tech and magic that the SNES game completely ignored. Also, playing a straight up gunslinger Samurai build wonít cut you off from being able to experience other aspects of the game like decking or magic because you can (and should) hire a diverse set of runners to assist you. There is a nice array of character portraits to chose from and you can reasonably customize your character model including different hair (head and facial) and different models for male/female and race (human, elf, troll, orc.)
+ The game editor is packaged with the PC version of the game. This is a ballsy move because this is THE game editor that the game designers used to make the game. User Generated Content is already driving the direction this game is going. Want more props to add into your homebrew campaign? Libraries of them are already available. Want some new portraits for your character? Yep, those are out there also. Feel the urge to play some more Shadowrun besides the original campaign? Already a few campaigns available with more in various stages of Alpha/Beta development all the time. Want to import your character from one campaign into another? The mod is already out. Want more options for your cyberware? Done and more on the way. All this and more is out with even more to come. And keep in mind, the game has barely been out TWO WEEKS at the time of this writing. I havenít seen this level of community interaction over a game since the original Quake 1 modders started redefining the gaming industry.
+ The weapons, spells, cyberdecks, programs, drones, armor and cyberware seem like a LOT of options to choose from at first, though when you start specializing your character you may start wishing for even more variety. That could just be me being picky though because there werenít enough good SMGís and shotguns to my liking so Iíll put the loadout variety in the positive column.
- The game is fairly short. Even though itís well written and even though more official expansions are already in the works itís a short experience. That being said there is significant replay value due to the variety of characters you can create and itís a twenty dollar title so itís not a horrific negative.
- The game is EXTREMELY linear. A linear game helps them to focus on the story (ala the SNES Shadowrun game) but in this day and age the almost complete lack of options is kind of surprising. Especially since the Genesis SR game had more open world/random gameplay elements than its descendant. Rumor has it the upcoming Berlin DLC will be more like the Genesis game so my fingers are crossed but that still doesnít excuse the fact that in this campaign there are conversational choices that are made irrelevant because the game will railroad you regardless.
- Even with the high res graphics enabled the games graphics are low end. The character models are kind of clunky and animations (especially melee/unarmed) are very minimal and uninspired. The game DOES get its atmosphere over very well but I canít help but feel like the graphics could use a shot in the arm.
- The sound is decent, the music is good (same composers that did the SNES and Genesis games, woo!) but there is NO spoken dialogue in the entire game. As Iíve said, the story is well written, and I donít mind reading a lot when I play a game (after all I grew up when all text games like Zork were still a thing) but it seems very jarring to have no voice acting at all.
- The point and click only interface is too simplistic for my taste. Having keyboard shortcuts or hotkeys for various tasks would have been nice. I understand that itís designed the way it is due to the fact it will be released for tablets in the near future but giving the PC version some extra features would have been appreciated.
Better Than: Shadowrun for the SNES. Yes, I know this game is a holy grail of sorts for some players but while I liked the story the lore/mechanics issues really turned me off to the old SNES game. Though I did still appreciate that Jake Armitage appears in SR Returns.
Worse Than:As it stands now I still think the open world setup of the Genesis SR, with the random mission generator giving it nearly infinite replayability is slightly above SR Returns. But that being said, SR Returns has almost infinite potential to exceed even the great Genesis SR in the future.
Overall: B+: Bringing Shadowrun back to its RPG roots was an accomplishment that required working around a limited budget (itís a Kickstarter funded game), and catering to long time fans while still trying to attract new ones all of which make for a complicated dance and the budget limitations definitely show in the final product. But the flaws feel minor in the face of the fact that the game is fun, well written and scratches the old school turn based/isometric view itch perfectly. The fact that the community is very engaged in cranking out new content will only add to the experience, and in the long run I expect that SR Returns will be one of the most rewarding games available. So what are you waiting for chummer? Jack in.