YMMV / Shadowrun Returns

  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Dragonfall, through the mouth of the team and the inhabitants of the Kreuzbazar, may want you to believe Monika held the Kreuzbazar together and was an indispensable leader to run it. But the player who invests time in his new team and workplace might think Monika's management was not as stellar as said. Her achievements include giving up on Glory to the point she's completely closed to the world when you first meet her, letting a metahuman shelter remain in ruins when little was needed to fix it, and getting a teen hooked on BTLs to help her deal with her miscarriage. It's up to the player to decide if she tried to make the most of a chaotic situation or was a lazy leader overlooking complex issues in order to go for the easy solution or let them sort themselves out.
    • Glory in Dragonfall. A genuine self-made Emotionless Girl or just a young woman who was so deeply hurt that she believes herself to be one more than she actually is? Notably, her style of acting and talking seems cool-headed and slightly detached at most, rather than robotic; and she shows a degree of concern for moral issues that is unusual for any runner, much less an emotionally dulled one. Glory also narrates her backstory in a cynical, self-ironic way, rather than matter-of-factly, a common coping mechanism. Lastly, she openly displays plenty of emotion in her personal quest, ranging from frustration to fear, anger, hatred and even happiness. And that's not even getting into the When She Smiles moments. On the other hand, if she purifies the spirit in her personal quest, the spirit will comment that it requires something "more dead than alive" to bind to before binding to her.
  • Anti-Climax Boss:
    • Hong Kong on the whole is somewhat less difficult than Dragonfall, and the boss is no exception. Her first phase draws its difficulty from having to deactivate her shields, which isn't really that hard if you make a dash for them. After that, you just have to take her down so she won't resurrect her mooks, which are more dangerous than she is. In the second phase, she gets tougher and has some mooks buffing her, but they are easy to kill and she falls quickly once they're dead. The third phase, which can be skipped by talking her down, is so laughably easy that you can potentially put her down in the first round of combat, since she has no buffs or backup while your entire team of six runners are there hammering on her.
    • The team of Red Samurai that you're tasked to kill in Gaichû's personal mission. Despite being among the most feared soldiers in the Shadowrun setting, and individually superior to any equivalent mook with similar weapons, the game gives you so many advantages that almost all the challenge is taken out of it. You can outright kill off one of their most powerful members, set an ambush from a favorable position, and set up explosive barrels for an added bonus. That may be a realistically intelligent way of approaching a battle, but it's also kind of a let-down. It's made all the more egregious because the ordinary Mooks that you regularly face in huge numbers in the bonus campaign are more dangerous than them. A proper boss fight with them is basically a Self-Imposed Challenge. The game happens to lampshade it a bit by giving some backstory of the Red Samurai, who are described as arrogant and disdainful towards what is essentially a fallen ghoul and a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits. Also, Gaichû's team became a disgraced one and thus was not reassigned enough personnel to return it to full fighting strength.
  • Broken Base:
    • Over the base game's lack of a manual save feature. The developer was unable to implement one due to budget restraints. Nonetheless, some fans are insisting that this ruins the game, while others are willing to put up with checkpoint saving. A manual save system was eventually patched into the original game when Dragonfall was released, but for a long time, this was one of the biggest complaints leveled against the game.
    • Some like that the $20 price includes a level editor that allows the community to create an endless amount of content for their characters. Others are crying out that the developers are letting the community finish the game for them.
    • Hong Kong's noticeable increase in the volume of text compared to the previous campaigns. It can get rather vicious, with those that dislike the amount of reading claiming it puts them to sleep, while those who like it claim the former group should just go play a hack-n-slash instead, since they evidently don't have the attention span for playing RPGs. A much more quiet third group points out that the problem lies not in the amount of text itself, but rather in how relatively little it contributes to the plot, how often it repeats itself, and how little time to digest is given between the hub talking sections because the runs are relatively short and often can be completed with dialogue rather than combat.
  • Catharsis Factor: There is nothing quite like watching three Shadowrunners on overwatch unload semi-magical insecticide-filled shells into one of those insect spirits all in the same simultaneous barrage of fire.
    • In Shadows of Hong Kong, there is the blowing up of police vehicles during the escape from the Tiger's Den.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: For Hong Kong, of the 3 starting runs you're given, most players would choose to do Outsider first. Bad Qi is That One Level early on in the game, while the museum heist features a hefty amount of fighting. Meanwhile, Outsider is basically a CSI procedural; uncover enough clues and you'll secure your first paycheck cum karma, and recruit Gaichû. All without doing a single fight.
    • For Shadows of Hong Kong, the trip to the Tiger's Den is easily the first run players would do. Both the optional runs are somewhat difficult, whereas the Tiger's Den is a good run to get familiarised with the increased intensity of combat in Shadows. The first part is reminiscent of the combat-free play style of the main game, as you charm your way past the level. The second part is made easier by allowing you to activate turrets and smoke grenade launchers. (The turrets can draw away attacks as well as sap enemy APs.) In addition, you get to raid an armoury, which can secure useful weapons for the other runs. To top it all off, while escaping via the garage, you can rig the vehicles to explode as you make your getaway.
    • In general, if a player character wants to get the most out of focusing Karma in a single attribute, that attribute will likely be Quickness or Intelligence. Quickness enables Ranged Combat, which in turn leads to proficiency with Rifles. The Rifle's Full Auto attack flushes enemies out from cover reliably and from range (especially with high Quickness and Ranged Combat). Meanwhile, Intelligence-related skills are Decking and drone related skills. Even without a cyberdeck, Decking allows the character to cast the Mark Target ability, increasing allies' accuracies when attacking the marked target. This in turn helps their drones' damage output.
  • Contested Sequel: Hong Kong. Coming after the highly acclaimed Dragonfall Director's Cut might have something to do with it. While the crew is almost universally liked, many find the storytelling lacking in comparison to its predecessor, claiming there that is too much repetitive, blocky text and too little action to balance it out, that the devs forced an unnecessary and poorly written backstory onto the player character and that Raymond, the man you spend the entire game searching for, has barely any personality. Half the fanbase hates the changes to the Matrix, some dislike other mechanical changes and it probably does not help that the game was quite buggy on release.
    • The bonus Shadows of Hong Kong mini-campaign then swings the pendulum to the other extreme, by having many long and rather difficult fights.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • One mission in Dragonfall has taser-wielding junkies, who do up to 3 AP damage. This stuns any character they manage to hit, and a junkie can keep that character locked down indefinitely. This wouldn't be so bad normally, but you're in the middle of a Hold the Line mission being flanked from two sides while defending a fragile target from drones that hit twice in a round and trying to keep the junkies from hacking the two consoles which are making the mission bar progress. Seriously, kill these guys on sight.
    • Any monster with a DoT effect like acid or poison is automatically twice as annoying as enemies who don't have it. This is because magic or end-of-round healing is based on the last hit taken, and DoT effects usually do a fair amount of initial damage followed by paltry DoT damage that prevents you from restoring the big loss without wasting a medkit. It certainly doesn't help that magical creatures with this effect are usually harder to kill than humanoid enemies, and are blessed with better aim.
  • Designated Villain: Some fans felt this way about Krait. The premise of Shadows of Hong Kong is that your team will finally be able to turn the tables on those who put the APB on you and Duncan, and everyone in the game makes a big deal about getting revenge on Krait and the HKPF. However, Krait didn't really play that big of a role in the player character's misfortunes and was really only a mouthpiece for Tsang and the Executive Council. Also, except for one encounter at the beginning of the game, the HKPF did not really bother the crew much in the main game. Of course, the game being a CRPG with a particularly heavy emphasis on the "RP" aspect, the player can repeatedly point out that the people Krait killed were "friends of friends" at best, peacefully talk their way out of the final confrontation with Krait, and then abandon most of the team to return to Seattle.
    • For Exit, Stage Left, Neville Ma is this. After you complete the run, it's obvious to see that your client is the bigger jerk out of the two. Due to your actions during the run, Neville fires the lead actress of his successful soap opera, which is what your client wanted. However, in a phone call after the run, he explains (relatively nicely) to your client that he (the client) missed the entire point of why he is less successful than Neville. After the explanation, the tirade of insults from your client is disturbing enough to unsettle Strangler Bao. During the run itself, Ku Feng (the vampire who healed Neville) can also mention that Neville treated her with kindness, and that his lavish gifts to her were more than just payment for the treatment.
  • Disappointing Last Level: The final mission of Dead Man's Switch is a grindy trip through an underground maze filled with Demonic Spiders and very little plot or character development. The final mission of Dragonfall is a lesser offender by having more plot development and less annoying foes, but it's still debatable if the underground maze section was really necessary (at least you can traverse it quickly when you know what to do) and opinions on the final boss (specifically his game mechanics) are split. Finally averted in Hong Kong, where the final level is on the overworld and only has a modest amount of fighting, though this in turn led to complaints of it being too linear.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Glory is probably the most popular member of the crew from Dragonfall, due to a combination of being the most moral team member, having an extremely interesting and tragic backstory and her badassery with her claws. Her looks probably don't hurt either. And with the addition of her claws in Hong Kong and a bit of savegame and portrait editing, it is now entirely possible to PLAY as Glory (albeit an alternate reality incarnation, given the PC's set-in-stone backstory) or an Expy of her.
    • Racter is quickly shaping into a fan-favorite from the Hong Kong campaign, due to his Creepy Awesome background and appearance, unique perspective on trans-humanism and excellent in-game utility.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Both possible endings of Shadows of Hong Kong, if the PC didn't take the Deal with the Devil. One ending has you and Duncan get your SINs back and return to Seattle, possibly reuniting with Raymond as well; however the PC has to give up shadowrunning for good and never sees the crew again. The crew's fate is left ambiguous as well, since you do not know if the Yellow Lotus managed to survive the carnage in Hong Kong by relocating to Seattle. The other ending has you becoming a prime runner, and establishing the Yellow Lotus firmly in Seattle, but this decision will alienate Duncan, causing him to furiously cut ties with the player and the team, never to be seen again.
  • Even Better Sequel: The Dragonfall campaign, which warranted a stand-alone Director's Cut version. Harebrained Schemes were hoping to either meet or surpass it with the Hong Kong campaign, though whether or not they managed is a different story.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: In Dragonfall, it's plain that siding with powerful groups with morally questionable goals pays. Doing the Lodge's work consistently will result in them sending you a gift consisting of some pretty good items. In Loose Ends, shooting the target on sight will net you the most Karma and ensure that you leave the building without another fight. Siding with the rigger all the way results in no Karma gain, and a firefight.
    • Shadows Of Hong Kong emphasizes the idea that many people are just pawns in the proxy corporate wars between megacorps, e.g. Krait and Qiu are two ladies who are just serving their corporate masters.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Monika leaves the player a message saying that if they fail her, she'll come back and "haunt [their] ass." APEX takes on her face, voice, mannerisms, and memory in an attempt to win the crew over. And if the player frees the AI but doesn't give it control over Feuerschwinge, then it will swear revenge on them, flashing Monika's face as she was dying just to add ice to the threat.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • Most moves that manipulate AP effectively give you extra turns. The wall conjurations of the shaman are also very useful, since they can pin down an enemy as you surround them, lock down a hallway or even be used as cover. The AI also likes to cross them, which is also a winning situation for you, especially with the walls that subtract AP.
    • One of the spirits a Shaman can summon from points on the field is a bipedal, rotting, crow-skulled, lizard-thing that shoots poisonous darts. That's all it does, but considering the darts have decent accuracy, and do HP AND AP damage, that's all it needs to do. Give him haste and accuracy buffs to win fights without even trying.
    • Auto Reload is a pistol skill that can be unlocked as early as the 4th level in the Karma system. It removes the AP cost for reloading. With this skill, you can keep firing your pistol for as long as you have AP, which is really gamebreaking when you take into account the fact that several weapons and high AP skills use your ammo capacity as a check against you abusing them. This makes revolvers very useful as it averts their short clip capacity handicap and effectively turns your character into The Gunslinger. Once you have maxed out your pistol skill, you effectively have a high chance of scoring critical hits on your enemy while never having to reload. This is balanced by the fact that pistols are the only gun category with the ability and are on the low end of the damage scale.
      • Hong Kong adds the Auto-Loader cyber arm, which allows you to reload any weapon for free. Miniguns, assault rifles, automatic shotguns: they are all game. Take whatever was said earlier and apply that to a heavy weapon capable of rapid fire. Affording it early can make some missions much easier. This is lampshaded with its associated achievement: "Pays for Itself".
    • Physical Adepts went from being largely thought of as underpowered when Dead Man's Switch was released, to perfectly serviceable in Dragonfall, to easily capable of breaking the game in Dragonfall: Director's Cut. Partially thanks to the bioware available from Doctor Ezkibel's new sidequest, it's relatively easy to fashion a build that gimps the tougher encounters in the game with a player-character that has a high chance to dodge, a high ability to withstand hits that aren't dodged, and high damage output.
    • Is0bel's grenade launcher in Hong Kong is ridiculously overpowered. It can easily hit multiple enemies at once, it scores critical hits with surprising frequency, it's pretty accurate, and the Splash Damage means it will likely still cause harm even when her aim is off. And with proper upgrades, it can strip armor and set enemies on fire. The only caveats are that it can only be used twice between reloads (which won't mean anything once Is0bel gets 3 AP) and that it damages everyone caught in the blast (even allies). Mitigated in Shadows, where certain enemies can throw back the grenades.
    • While Assault Rifles are excellent weapons in any iteration of the series, the unique end-game rifles in Hong Kong are downright ludicrous (if you can figure out where to acquire them). One already superbly accurate (and highly damaging) rifle fires tracer rounds which make each subsequent hit more likely, allowing the player to dish out enormous amounts of damage every round by constantly firing it on full-auto. Another acquirable early in the bonus campaign can fire as many as 7 armor-piercing bullets in a single burst, chewing through enemy health at an astounding rate and essentially rendering enemy mages non-factors.
    • In Dragonfall, Glory has an ability that gives her one extra AP for a few rounds that she can activate essentially for free note ; she can then blitz across the level and get in close to use her claws, which do respectable damage, knocks her target out of cover, and (AP permitting) can tear off all of most targets' armor in a single turn. note  Throw in a shaman's haste note  and she can squishify the entire enemy party in no time flat. Meanwhile, the rest of your team is dealing ridiculous amounts of damage to the now unarmored targets. With decent HP and high armor herself, the normal vulnerability of melee range largely doesn't matter. She has a decent Biotech stat and carries a decent number of medkits, so she can just drop a medkit if she does take a good hit. And it gets better: if you allow her to purify the toxic spirit in her personal quest, she'll have a Heal spell on hand to heal herself!
    • Rigger PCs can, without a whole ton of Karma, trade 2AP for two extra allies on the field with 3AP each that have decent armor and HP, do respectable damage at high accuracy, and (as of Dragonfall: Director's Cut) are immune to most statuses, particularly bleeding and infection DoTs. Another bonus: they can flank enemies through vents in many cases. "It's like having another runner on the team" indeed. It becomes more ridiculous in Shadows of Hong Kong if you manage to capture a spider tank for your team's use in the final battle, as the tank has a substantial repair ability which it can use once every round. Also, with the additional Karma from the bonus missions, it is very possible to give your drones 4AP each.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: In 'Hong Kong'', during the Prosperity Tower run, if you trip the security alarm, reinforcement guards will appear from the elevators. A bug can result in a guard not leaving the elevator, making it impossible to proceed. (As the elevator door is closed, you can't even shoot the offending fellow).
  • Goddamn Bats: Shadows of Hong Kong introduces enemies that possess the Magnet Arm. What was once your counter to any and all grenades is now your absolute annoyance. Any grenade that's thrown or shot in their vicinity will immediately get lobbed back at you. And they're always bunched up with a bunch of other heavily-armored Mooks. As long as these guys are alive, you have precious fewer ways of dealing with groups. It's usually limited to Grenadier enemies, but the commanding officers (captains and such) may also have it.
  • Good Bad Bugs: From the Dragonfall campaign. For whatever reason, Audran is sometimes incapable of opening dialogue with the player during his initial appearance; If this happens, he remains a "neutral" character for the rest of the battle, and follows the player around without attacking them.
  • Iron Woobie: Glory. She's a nearly soulless husk due to the bulky, outdated, Essence-costly cyberware mods she's been modified with. She had to do this in order to escape from the influence of the Adversary. And that's just one part of her Dark and Troubled Past.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Luca Duerr in Dragonfall, if the player completes all the tasks assigned by him. He manages to rise from mid-level management within the Lodge to become one of its agents who have global reach. All it took him was some nuyen.
    • Kindly Cheng in Hong Kong. In the main campaign, she takes over her superior's position and ruins Josephine Tsang, thanks to the player's help. In Shadows, she then convinces the player to stick with her, allowing her to carve out new territory in Seattle after losing Hong Kong.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Audran crosses this when he launches an attack on the Kreuzbasar, killing dozens if not hundreds of people who had absolutely no idea that his organization even existed, including Goldshmidt and Kami. And especially when he personally murders Paul Amsel.
    • The Director's Cut edition of Dragonfall includes an extra mission that serves as this for Luca Duerr. It starts off with him just sending you in to set up surveillance on a supposed enemy of the Flux State. Turns out what he actually had you do was plant a bomb to blow up the building and kill everyone inside it. On top of this, he engineered things to go wrong at every opportunity, just to see how the Player Character would adapt, made the whole thing a Batman Gambit to kill two of the people he hired for the mission, and even tricked a normal working class dwarven woman into being an accomplice of terrorism purely For the Evulz. More than a few players have expressed severe disappointment that you never get the option to flat-out murder the smug bastard.
    • Josephine Tsang from Hong Kong crosses this at least twice. The first time when she kidnaps her son and tries to have her foster grandchildren killed to cover it up so she can alter her son's memories of the Prosperity project. The second is when it is revealed that she purposefully let the broken Fortune Engine operate in the Walled City, knowing that the residents there were suffering from the negative ki it was pulling in, all the while taking what little positive ki it was generating for herself.
    • The end of the Hong Kong campaign lets you cross the threshold and become a full-on Villain Protagonist. By taking the deal with Qian Ya, you murder your foster father, your stepbrother, and two of your comrades, and condemn tens of thousands of souls and lives to a Fate Worse Than Death. All so that you can benefit from fourteen years of good luck.
    • Krait crosses this at the beginning of Shadows Of Hong Kong when you see a recording of her personally ordering her unit to open fire on civilians. Civilians both you and she knew were unarmed and were just trying to find a safe place away from the riots.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Dragonfall is rife with this:
    • One mission has you storming a corporate building to stop some immoral Blood Magic research. It is possible for you to steal the research data and sell it for cash. The research in question? A magic that will allow the user to kill a person, no matter where he or she is, so long as the user has access to a blood relative...good luck sleeping if you let that knowledge get out there.
    • APEX. She can find you anywhere on the net and fry your brain so fast that you can't even jack out. If you don't kill her, you're forever at her mercy, because betraying her ensures that you and anyone you know can never go near the Matrix again. Your best bet is to pray that the destruction of the wired Matrix 10 years later took care of it, or at least greatly wound it.
    • As of the Director's Cut of Dragonfall, the Black Lodge. An Ancient Conspiracy that wants to take over the world. And according to Dietrich, if you take their money, they as good as own you. And they warn you that while they don't mind you passing up on one or two of their optional objectives, their patience has their limits. As if you didn't have enough enemies in Dragonfall. Fortunately, you just need to do 3 tasks for them after the trial run, and they'll leave you alone AND throw in some good items to boot.
    • Harrow's camp. It seems like such a nice place. Because there's a corrupted spirit whispering in the back of your mind to make you more obedient. Enough to make you a sex slave or partake in a human sacrifice.
  • Scrappy Level: The "underground maze" section of the final level in Dragonfall. Filled with Demonic Spiders, dark, labyrinthian and difficult to navigate, with many areas serving no apparent purpose but to mislead you, and most importantly, breaking climactic tension by coming right in-between the Big Bad's Motive Rant/reveal of the Evil Plan and the Final Boss. Having said that, it is possible to not encounter a single fight if you know what to do and do not require the items which are guarded by enemies.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Decking is the least popular aspect of the game in Dead Man's Switch and Dragonfall. The combat system in the Matrix is similar to that in meat space, but it's much more simplistic. You'll usually only jack in one person at a time, there aren't many tactics to utilize, level layouts are pretty basic, and just about every enemy can be killed with a few normal attacks. It doesn't help that every Matrix level looks the same and has the same repetitive music track playing in the background.
    • In Hong Kong, the Decking was changed significantly, but still has issues. It turns into a Real-Time Third-Person Stealth game for most of it, requiring careful timing and quick thinking, as opposed to the more strategic Meat-Space action, not to mention the Black IC that does Meat Space HP Damage to your Decker, instead of the IP damage normally done by Matrix programs.
  • Strawman Has a Point: In Dragonfall, the Humanis policlub have propaganda copied straight from 20th century racial supremacy groups, including calling for violence against elves because of an alleged Ancient Conspiracy of elves controlling the world, an obvious reference to anti-Semitic propaganda such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Trouble is, in Dead Man's Switch, you team up with Harlequin, who is part of an Ancient Conspiracy of elves controlling the world. On the other hand, Harlequin is established to be The Last of His Kind (Or one of the last, at least), meaning that the Ancient Conspiracy was indeed true at one point, but it's run out of steam. In a sense, Humanis being fearful of elves for wanting to control humans is like being afraid of the modern day Catholic Church out of fear that they'll execute non-believers; not without precedent, given how dangerous fundamentalists can be especially in third-world countries (in-universe, Tír Tairngire (formerly Oregon) and Tír na nÓg (formerly Ireland) are two fairly powerful and increasingly corrupt nations with large elf populations run by immortal elves), but inciting blind hate in nations that are at least making a token attempt at equality just makes said entities even more powerful and dangerous. At the end of Dead Man's Switch, Harlequin even has a short monologue on the truth of the matter being a hilariously complicated web of personal agendas and conspiracies all clashing with each other and turning into a giant clusterfuck instead of there being an unambiguously bad single entity at the top keeping the world's evil running on Ontological Inertia. He ends with the assertion that the best way to fight it is to refuse to play into it to begin with, like shadowrunners.
  • That One Attack: AP damage, especially from grenades. Even when you have 3 AP, losing one or two will severely limit what can be done on that turn.
  • That One Level:
    • The geomatic sabotage mission in Hong Kong is widely considered the hardest of the bunch, due to the bound spirits and mages which can benefit from the environmental effects caused by your qi sabotage. Amusingly, the level can be a total cakewalk depending both on when you do it and how the Random Number God decides to affect you and your opponents. It certainly doesn't help that this mission is one of the first three available, so players may take it without realizing what they're in for. If you do it later in the game and picked Gobbet's spirit killing ability (which allows her to instantly destroy a hostile spirit so long as she has line of sight to it), the only choke point is the attack by the mages, which may still prove to be extremely troublesome.
    • The Prosperity Tower mission and its follow-up, which are main story missions also in Hong Kong. Although there is a way to clear most of the mission without any combat, you're likely unable to do so as it requires very high charisma and a particular etiquette (or that the player is a good mage/shaman). On top of that, picking the wrong dialogue options will also result in combat sometimes. Initiating combat will result in not only every enemy on the current floor attacking you, but also several waves of reinforcements to appear from the elevators (if you do not disrupt the alarms fast enough. Also, see Game-Breaking Bug above.). And once you manage to get past all that, the follow-up mission hits you with an extremely long, timed Matrix section. If your own character is not a decker, you'll be forced to use whichever one you brought along instead, which can make clearing the whole thing within the time limit seem like a herculean task. All this while enemies keep pouring into the room and can potentially hit your decker while they're jacked in. Did the time run out? You just wasted a solid 20+ minutes.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/ShadowrunReturns