If you’re unfamiliar with the Shadowrun universe, it’s set in future earth and incorporates both cyberpunk and fantasy elements. Before now, Shadowrun has been a very popular tabletop game, an action RPG on the Sega Genesis and even a team-based multiplayer FPS.
Thanks to Kickstarter, Shadowrun has returned as a traditional isometric-style RPG that plays very similar to the old Fallout games, with combat that feels like it’s out of the XCOM games.
Character creation involves choosing your class and race, in the Shadowrun universe you can be a Human, Elf, Troll, Orc or Dwarf, each of which have their own unique restrictions and perks associated with them, for example, Trolls and Orcs tend to make terrible Deckers or Riggers because of the high intelligence required, however they start with more HP and are better at strength-based abilities.
Your class choice has a huge impact on how you will be playing the game in combat situations. The classes include;
- Street Samurai, master of weapons, both melee and ranged.
- Mage, master of magic and magical support.
- Decker, master of the matrix (cyberspace).
- Shaman, master of the spirits, summoning and magical support.
- Rigger, master of mechanical drones and engineering.
- Physical Adept, master of unarmed and chi magic.
Gameplay outside of combat is in real time, you control your character by clicking where you want to move or what you want to interact with, if you have companions they will automatically follow you.
During combat, the game becomes turn based. Each character in the fight has a certain number of action points they can use during their turn. For example if you have 3 AP you could choose to run to cover, fire a burst of bullets with your SMG and then cast a heal spell on one of your friends.
Although Shadowrun Returns is an RPG, it doesn’t quite incorporate all of the elements of freedom that most RPGs have. For example, you cannot go back to areas you have already been or choose what order to do certain tasks in. The main campaign follows quite closely to the story with very few side missions.
While on an actual mission you are given a fair amount of freedom in regards to how you accomplish your tasks… will you open the door by jacking into the matrix, battling security programs and finding the door controls, will you fight your way in meatspace to the door switch, leaving a trail of destruction in your wake… or will you simply get your break down the door because you’re a giant troll with ridiculous strength?
I found the story to be absolutely amazing! It was probably the best story I’ve experienced in an RPG thus far. My only issue is that it ended after 10 hours of gameplay and I felt like I had not fully developed my character yet and that there was still a lot of things I wanted to try. But I suppose 10 hours of gameplay isn’t bad considering the game comes with a built in module/map editor and there are loads of modules on the Steam Workshop.
If you’re looking for a more freedom-based experience with this game, I recommend getting the module ‘Shadowrun Unlimited’ from the Workshop.
Overall, I really liked this game, it has just about everything I look for in an RPG. It lacks a bit of freedom in the default campaign, but makes up for it with modding tools.
I give Shadowrun Returns 8/10.