Reviews: Shadowrun Returns

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Dragonfall (Director's Cut)- a Blast from the Past
Gamers of a certain age (or access to Go G) will remember the old Infinity Engine RP Gs- Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, the Icewind Dale series. Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall is reminiscent of those titles in the best ways. The gameplay is solid- tactical combat obviously "inspired" (read: stolen) by the XCOM relaunch, which is reasonably challenging while generally allowing multiple approaches to shine.

The real star though is the role-playing aspect, abetted by some of the best genre writing I've ever had the pleasure to experience. The setting for Shadowrun is ridiculous, and having never played it on the tabletop I was initially reluctant to purchase the game. Cyberpunk Orks fighting mages is one of the dumber sci-fi concepts out there. And yet it works, at least in the context of this game. The writing sells you on the characters, who seem like real people; on the setting, which simply oozes cyberpunky menace; on your choices, which actually matter, and can take the story in some very unexpected directions. And man, there is no shortage of choices to make- many missions can be resolved in several ways using a variety of skills, meaning there's no "optimal" build to complete everything. The main quest has all of the twists and turns you'd hope.

Problems: the graphics are subpar. Anyone who plays the game for the visuals is dramatically missing the point, but you do have to be willing to deal with N64-quality graphics. The game is a little short, even with the new "Director's Cut" content. The fact that only the PC can talk with NP Cs means that most players will want to invest several "karma" points in upgrading Charisma, which is useless in combat for non-spell casters.

In all, it's a fantastic title. I heartily recommend it for anyone who misses old-school Western RP Gs. Hopefully further expansions will be forthcoming.
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