‘Shadowrun Returns’ published by Harebrained Schemes is a tactical role-playing video game set in a magical cyberpunk future. The universe and game were originally developed by Jordan Weisman who after years of legal litigation regained rights to the game. Using social media and crowd funding websites, he was able to produce and publish the game himself to retain rights.
The game is a near perfect representation of playing ‘Shadowrun.’ Everything from character creation, to combat, and even dialogue with other characters is just like the tabletop game. Additionally, with Jordan and his team writing the story, creating the art, and developing the world it really felt like stepping into one of the novels.
It is not without its problems. One issue is how you save your game. Saves occur typically at scene changes and between chapters but not always. Knowing whether or not your game saved is a little bit of a gamble.
Additionally there are some issues with scalability in weapons. If you pick up a shotgun early in the game you need nearly no skill to plow through enemies. Not that this is necessarily a problem but because of the realistic damage, certain weapon types do much more damage than the skill points that were put into them.
For game play, ‘Returns’ offers unparalleled game play for the 2-D RPG addict. This play style is not everyone’s favorite but for fans of the original games and system this couldn’t be better. It feels like a homage to old Fallout, Arcanum, or Baldur's Gate but keeps it fresh and new.
It also sports an impressive soundtrack, artwork, and level design. Every level of the game could be framed and hung on a wall. Combined with a story worth a feature film, ‘Shadowrun Returns’ is a grand slam and worth every penny.
In the future they hope to release more campaigns and content. With the release of the Campaign Editor you can even make your own levels and distribute them over Steam.
I give ‘Shadowrun Returns’ 5 out of 5 dancing hamsters for story, art, game-play, and 20% more awesome per square inch than the leading competitor.