Publisher/Developer: Harebrained Schemes
This offering from Harebrained Schemes and the original creator of Shadowrun, Jordan Weisman, is a lot more than it first appears. With an in-depth storyline a rich sci-fi/transhuman/fantasy mash up ethos comes this Shadowrun Returns. It is a return to the heyday of RPGs. With a beautiful interface, graphics and fluid turn-based single player gameplay. It is a real treat for anyone is seeking a return to the RPGs of old.
As one would expect, this sci-fi/fantasy universe role player has all the elements needed to engage the player and allow almost total immersion into its world and the story. This is not an easy feat in today’s environment of “no scopes” and “headshots”.
Warning if you’re not a fan, then avoid this one. The game offers heavy story interaction, complete and party character development. But also, turn based tactical combat. You will die a lot. For those new to games like this, be warned there is a huge chance that you will rage quit and give up all today. Running and gunning is not an option nor is aim wasting.
Not to get too in-depth, as the story is a huge part of what makes this game, but the world is set in post-2012 world that has been ended as part of the Mayan prophecy and reborn from the return of magic to the world and a huge dragon. This new magic has merged with the technology of our world giving birth to the Matrixa network. Think the internet but directly accessible by the human brain. There is also a healthy dose of dystopian lore. i.e. all governments are replaced by megacorporations that seek to feed off the general populous.
This playable world is alive with humans, elves, dwarfs, orks, mages and so on. It is a standard by the numbers RPG character roster. But the cool thing about this is that you can upgrade and fully customize the appearance, stats etc. of your protagonist. You play as Shadowrunners. These are pawns of the megacorporations carrying out hits and other missions that are outside the law.
There is a huge learning curve and that threw me at the beginning; although this is something that plagues RPGs it is really unforgiveable here as you need to play it to experience the story. They go hand in hand and isolating a non-hardcore gaming audience is both annoying and dumb.
The grapics are really lush overall, but the combat events are the poorest aspect of the game and were it fails down. They play like Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic II and that was nearly a decade ago. I understand that it’s a PC RPG and that no matter what they could do, on this scale, the game’s combat would always look ropy and it does.
Shadowrun Returns has been hailed as one of the best stories of recent years, even ranking beside Dragon Age and KOTOR, I wouldn’t go that far. But it is a very enjoyable game. If you’ve a few hours to kill and want to explore, kill and scout a magical sci-fi future then this is for you.