I look at Shadowrun Returns!

Shadowrun Returns isn't perfect, but it's pretty amazing. I describe it as a 'new-old' Role Playing Game, like the games I used to play when I was younger with some modern trappings here and there, but still a core that was enjoyable for the duration of it's short campaign. Oh and you can't save whenever you want, what's up with that?

Boy oh boy do I love stats!

Character customization is pretty great, you gain karma from progressing through the story and then you can spend it on stats and skills associated to these stats. You can't put more points in a skill than you have in that stat and they have cap depending on races. You unlock new abilities and powers at certain stats levels and they can be required to use certain thing. You also use your stats for story beats, allowing you to bypass paying a bribe if you have enough strength. Charisma unlocks 'etiquette' which allow you to talk to specific people in a specific way (corporate, street, etc.). It's pretty great, I love stat systems like that.

It's a party!

You can have a bunch of different character archetypes, all with their specialties. Adepts go in close-combat and have spells to buff themselves, mages are heavy spellcasters and use leylines in combat to increase their magic abilities, deckers can use drones and jack into the matrix (see my 868-HACK review of last week for that process), shamans can summon things and have some spells, a few times in the game, you purchase new party members that will stay with you for a while and it's easy to build a balanced team with 'tank' and 'healer' archetypes. That being said, I've been annoyed by the 'you can revive people but if your leader dies even if some of your party members have revive items well it's game over' system. Why not let me revive my leader? I have the item right here!

And it shouldn't matter

And it shouldn't matter

The story is interesting and neat - except if you do it a second time, it has close to no replay value with different conversation paths being more or less the same - and you often can do one thing instead of another thing, if you're a shaman you can summon spirits, if you're a decker you can hack a computer instead of fighting some battle. Using strength instead of charisma, instead of paying a bribe is fine and dandy and it builds character but it doesn't have much gameplay implications and watching it a second time around is a bit boring, to be honest.  The game is maybe a bit too streamlined.

From A to B to C

I remember old games where you had to walk everywhere, sometimes on a world map, sometimes just like that until you got to the edge of the screen, when you wanted to visit other parts of the world. Shadowrun Returns has nothing of that; you walk very little, only in the important setpieces part of the world, you won't walk between the bar and the hospital, nor will you fight random encounters and talk to NPCs during your travel to the docks, it just goes automatically. It's a bit weird sometimes when you go somewhere, fight an epic battle, fast-travel to two boxes of dialogue and then fast-travel to another crazy boss fight. The pacing is just too fast without all of that moving around. Fast-travel is useful, but in moderation, no need to put it everywhere.

This got nothing on 868-Hack

I've went into the matrix once during the whole campaign and it was a NPC that had to do it because I didn't have any points in it. I didn't want to equip implants because they reduce essence which is useful for spellcasters, I barely used all of my etiquette options and since summoning items were one-use only, I didn't spam them all the time (I would've loved it better if they weren't consumed on use, maybe making them. This game is full of options, but since it's a bit short, you don't get to do a lot of it.

I love turn-based combat systems!

The combat system is also pretty good, you have AP on each character and actions cost a different number of AP, moving also costs some depending of the distance and you have hit percentages and crit percentages and buffs and debuffs, everything you'd want in a good turn-based system. Friendly fire makes AoE and shotguns more dangerous when you have allies close to the enemies, some buffs are annoying where the game expects you to select your character to confirm the use of a self-buff, annoying when you take into account that you can just move randomly by mistake but casting buffs requires confirmation. Enemies take their turn when you're done, shooting you and buffing themselves and dealing massive damage to your main character. Hide that guy quickly or it's game over (and the heal spell only heals damage from the last attack you took, so hope you don't take 2 damage after a big 25 hit) 


I really loved Shadowrun Returns, it's a good throwback to old-school role playing games and the battle system is pretty fun. While the replayability is low and most choices don't matter, it's worth playing at least once. The writing and music are pretty good too, inconsequentially.