Shadowrun Returns – Second Opinion
While the journey of Shadowrun Returns is a bit short, it’s well-polished and thoroughly enjoyable entertainment at a bargain price.
There was a time when storytelling in video games was an excessively drab affair. Some might argue that this is still an issue, but one would have to be intentionally ignorant to deny the lengths storytelling has come in interactive media. For now, I refer to generations ago when earthworm and bobcat platformers were reigning supreme. There was little in the way of depth and originality, aside from Square’s earliest RPGs and Shadowrun. In its SNES and Genesis incarnations, Shadowrun stood out among a dreary landscape with, ironically, a dreary landscape of its own; one filled with danger, challenge, and a gritty world seldom seen on a platform once considered fodder for children.
Now, Shadowrun has returned with the aptly named Shadowrun Returns. So how did they do?
As some might remember, this is hardly the first attempt at a ‘return’ for this series, including an ill-advised Xbox 360 FPS that many (perhaps even the minds behind Shadowrun themselves) would like to forget. This time, however, Harebrained Schemes has sought less to reinvent the series, and instead capitalize on their more successful strategies of the past, give or take a few upgrades.
Those just leaping into the series will find a deep, enthralling story-driven campaign with multiple paths toward the same end, requiring investigation, interrogation and the plethora of skills available in the development of your character. Those already familiar with the series will find a familiar charm and backdrop alongside the refinement of Shadowrun’s innate features, such as the importance of dialog and the meshing of prior characters within a new story.
The battles as well are challenging and tactical, necessitating forethought and planning both in and out of battle. Limited resources and a lack of repeatable, random battles (a plus) mean funds acquired must be adequately split between gear, consumables, hirelings and even story advancement. More than a few NPCs are willing to look the other way if one has enough coin.
Graphically, the game is beautifully painted and textured with a classic, yet distinctly digital flair. The lush colors help to set a tone for a world both dangerous and wondrous, the care and detail evident in the environment both impressive and enviable.
There are hardly any negative aspects about Shadowrun Returns. If forced, I might express sadness at the overall length of the game, and yet I see the huge amount of value already packed in at the low price-point of $19.99. While my journey might have felt short, it was well-polished and thoroughly enjoyable, and with the release of an incredibly in-depth editor with the game, additional adventures can be created and shared. At least until the next official campaign which, as I hear it, is not that far off…
Final Verdict: Get it. Love it. Cherish it. Now.