Review by Rampart77

Reviewed: 01/07/14

Shadowrun wasn't ready to return.

I'm not going to give some long winded intro; because this is a quick review I'm mainly going to go over the issues I had with this game.

Gameplay: 4/10

There isn't enough of it, and I'm not just talking about the absurdly short campaign. There literally isn't much you can do in this game. The amount you can interact with the environment is severely limited. In any given area you'll have a couple of people to talk to and maybe one or two points of interest that will give you some little blurb about something that will ultimately have almost no effect on the game.

Skills are similarly disappointing. It seems like you have to make a huge investment to get even a minor payoff, and some skills don't seem viable. Certain magic types don't seem to do much of anything, for example.

The combat system is a mixed bad. Some skills are bugged and so don't work right, it's hard to tell if cover actually has an effect; added to that is the lack of meaningful choice when buying new equipment. The best weapons you can buy are only marginally better than the ones you start with. Some skills are fun to play around with, but not fun enough to make combat enjoyable.

Finally, Shadowrun Returns lacks a conventional save system. While relying on autosave isn't a huge burden, having to wait for a new area in order to stop playing is just dumb. Of course the campaign is ridiculously short so it's not like you have to go through a ton of content all over again if you have to suddenly close the game.

Graphics: 8/10

There is an attention to detail in the game's art that is commendable. The backgrounds are beautiful despite being lifeless. You can't interact with 99% of what you're looking at. Not much point in a pretty game that you can't actually explore.

Sound: 2/10

The music that comes with the game is essentially the same 90 second or so series of synthetic sounding crap that made my ears bleed until I could figure out how to turn it off. If you want the real soundtrack you have to pay extra. None of the characters in the game are voiced. I understand this is an indie game, but SOME voice work should have been added.

Story: 3/10

It's a motley collection of worn out tropes from various cyberpunk sources (mostly William Gibson's novels and a sprinkling of old Shadowrun content). I stopped counting all the references to Neuromancer after the 5th or 6th glaringly obvious one. The writing is a mixed bag with some being very decent and some being so cheesy I felt embarrassed to be reading it. Most of the characters are uninspired and thus uninteresting, while other are ridiculous caricatures who are WAY too trope-y. There wasn't one character in this game I found interesting or even original. There are some decent moments, but generally this story falls far short of what it could have (and should have) been. Purple prose all over the place instead of actual character development.

Bottom Line

The people who funded this kickstarter should try to get their money back as they have been robbed. Instead of the exciting reboot of a beloved franchise Harebrained produced a half-baked game engine, boring combat, and a lame story that is made even worse by its ridiculous brevity. There is some hope for the game in the form of the construction kit, but there isn't enough to work with in the first place and the community isn't large enough to make the kind of changes needed. This game is not worth half of what it costs.

Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Product Release: Shadowrun Returns (US, 07/25/13)

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