Shadowrun Returns is a cyberpunk fantasy isometric tactical role-playing game is available on PC and Mac today. Shadowrun, created by Jordan Weisman over 25 years ago, spawned an iconic franchise with a large dedicated fanbase that has been avidly waiting for a game like Shadowrun returns, that promises to return to the roots of what made the franchise popular. For newcomers like me, Shadowrun Returns looks very enticing. It mashes a dystopian cyberpunk universe with high fantasy to create a solid backdrop for a great murder mystery played out with isometric role playing and turn based tactical combat.
Dan Whitehead at Eurogamer has written a very favourable review and IGN has given it a 7.3/10 in their review. Both describe a well put together story driven classic that is easy to pick up and play and although the murder mystery that encompasses the single player campaign is linear and compact, the level editor included in the game holds a lot of potential.
“It’s a good bite-sized classic-style RPG today, but Shadowrun Returns’ best days are ahead of it”, concludes Dan Stapleton at IGN. Dan Whitehead at Eurogamer finishes his review with: “…it won’t be until the community gets its hands on the editor, starts remixing the current material and generating its own, that the game will really begin to blossom. When it does, the patience of the hardcore will be well rewarded.”
The setting, explained in the Kickstarter campaign
“According to the Mayan Calendar (and lots of tabloids), the world will end on December 21, 2012. It’s part a 5,200 year cycle of death and rebirth that, in Shadowrun, actually charts the ebb and flow of magic from the Earth. So, on 12/21/12 magic will return, end this world, and wreak holy havoc while starting the next. Aboriginal cultures, who maintained their mystical traditions, are the first to feel the return of magic and use their newfound power to reshape the political, financial, and physical world around them. As the magic increases, Elf and Dwarf babies are born to very surprised parents who carry the right combination of long-dormant genes. But all of these events pale in comparison to the horror of “goblinization”, which painfully reshapes the teenage bodies of those unlucky enough to carry dominant Ork or Troll genes. And then the first Great Dragon rises from its 5,200 yearlong hibernation and circles over Tokyo, signaling that the world has truly AWAKENED.
Fast forward two generations, to a world transformed not only by the growth of magic but by the acceleration of cyber technology—a continual effort to improve upon the gifts that nature gave humanity; by the inevitable maturation of the World Wide Web into the Matrix—a network directly accessible by the human brain; and by the near elimination of governments as they are replaced megacorporations—monolithic entities who see only customers, not citizens.
And moving through the dark shadows cast by the gleaming towers of the corps, are Shadowrunners – disposable assets and corporate pawns scratching out a living using a combination of technology, magic, and street smarts. Shadowrunners live between the cracks and operate outside the law, doing the dirty work that corporate wage-slaves won’t soil their hands with and occasionally acting as the only protection the citizenry can turn to.
Welcome to the world of Shadowrun, where man meets magic and machine.”
Shadowrun Returns is now available for £14.99 for PC and Mac (10% off at Steam) with Linux, iPad and Android versions to follow.