Shadowrun Returns

Score: 8.0
Ages: 15+
2013

Shadowrun was one of the gaps in my gaming knowledge. The return created a lot of buzz and surely I was interested in checking out this cyberpunk/fantasy game, especially since it’s a turn based RPG.

The sequels were already out and I heard they were supposed to be better, but I’m pretty bent on doing things in order. It didn’t take long to ascertain that the world of Shadowrun is definitely an interesting place for me. It’s dark and violent, with plotting gangs and corporations, introducing racial themes and moral choices.

The game starts out as a very noir detective story. Eventually it evolves into something a bit strange – which can be good, but in this case it’s not really that good. Despite the ending being a bit of a let down, the story and game overall are still very engaging.

I really like the possibility of building one’s own class. There are set options for decker and gunners and mages, but one can mix and match. In addition of being a human, it’s possible to choose from a several fantasy races. I started out with a pretty basic dwarf mage – a bit grumpy on the outside, with a heart of gold.

In Shadowrun Returns it’s possible to roleplay a bit. Mostly these are rather cosmetic choices, but I’m glad they’re there. There’s also usually several ways to gain entries into buildings and such, and it’s really nice how different stats effect the possible actions also when out of combat.

Although some of the fights are very much avoidable, a large part of the game will be spent in the combat zones. The combat is mostly fun, and it’s not exactly hard either. As it’s turn-based, no fast reflexes are needed. Then again there are several difficulty settings to give some challenge for the more tactical players.

Deckers can jack into the matrix, which is a combat zone of its own, with a new set of attacking and defending skills. Decking is a very useful skill, but it’s not a must have, especially since there are usually other team members with the skill.

The NPCs in the game are somewhat fleshed out, but not particularly memorable. As someone who already played the two sequels, I think they bring a lot more depth to the characters. But Shadowrun Returns gives a good introduction to the world. I would recommend it to pretty much anyone who doesn’t shy away from cyberpunk.

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