Shadowrun Returns Review
Shadowrun. The name brings back memories of flipping through RPG books, constructing an Elven Japanese ninja with cybernetics, and sitting at a table with good friends throwing dice and calculating damage points taken and given. Harebrained Studios, thanks to Kickstarter, went out of their way to create a turn-based tactical RPG meant for fans of the classic series and newcomers looking for something different.
It is the year 2054. Magic and creatures from myth now exist in a world taken over by corporations and greed. Your new character is a Shadowrunner, a mercenary using their skills to survive on the streets of future Seattle.
Enter The Deadman’s Switch, a cyberpunk murder mystery that serves as a great introduction to the world of Shadowrun. You wake up in an run-down apartment after you create you Shadowrunner. Think Lord of the Rings meets Blade Runner as you pick from the traditional fantasy races such as Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, Orcs, and of course Humans, each with their own stats and advantages. Archetypes serve as your profession. The Street Samurai and Physical Adepts use combat skills and weapons, Shamans and Mages use magic as their specialty, and Deckers (Hacker) and Riggers use technology to infiltrate computers or controlling drones. The character creation is basically the same as the table-top version, which very easy to learn and straight-forward.
The gameplay is essentially a very simple tactical RPG to play and learn with a cover system like XCOM. You spend points from an Action Pool to move, attack, cast spells, and use items. Karma points are earned and can later allocated to skills and attributes. What I enjoyed especially enjoyed is the throwback to tabletop gaming when it comes to the story’s presentation. The dialogue is followed by a description of the scene, characters, or actions, just like how a gamemaster would have to describe a scene to their players.
There is also a cameo from Jake Artimage, the main character from the SNES Shadowrun introduced in the nineties. How cool is that?
Later in the story you are introduced to major aspects of the Shadowrun universe. The first is an opportunity to hired other Shadowrunners to aid you on a missions, which is fun mixing and matching Runners based on their skill sets. You also get to enter the Matrix (Shadowrun’s Matrix was first by the way), a virtual world Deckers can enter and the gameplay resembles a digital world as you navigate and fight as an avatar. Countermeasures and other nasty programs are you only enemy as they and prevent you from obtaining valuable information from the databases they protect.
Shadowrun Returns constantly reminds you about what makes the Shadowrun universe so unique and appealing.
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Should you fire up Steam and play Shadowrun Returns?
Shadowrun Returns is a great introduction to the world of cyberpunk fantasy and an enjoyable turn-based RPG. Gamers who are familiar to Shadowrun will feel like the game is a time-travel machine while newcomers to the franchise will hopefully explore what it has to offer. User generated content from the community and Harebrained Schemes are more reasons to enter the shadows once again after you beat Dead Man’s Switch. The only two things that might stop your from playing this game is how you feel about tactical RPGs and genre mixing, besides that Shadowrun Returns is worth experiencing.
Do you have what it takes to make it as a Shadowrunner?
Platforms: PC and Mac, iOS, Android
Developer: Harebrained Schemes
Publisher: Harebrained Schemes
Released: July 25, 2013