Monday, August 19, 2013

Swallowed by Shadows; A Shadowrun Returns Review.

Swallowed by Shadows; A Shadowrun Returns Review

Been awhile, ‘eh chummer? Well, hopefully that Johnson didn’t hold it against you personally how that job went sideways. I told you it’s never wise to take their word for it that it’ll be a milk run. Say, if your credstick is a little light I can float you some for a soycaf and some nutrisoy…

You good now? Slot yourself some attention chiphead and stay sharp; we got biz. Seems shadows all over the sprawl are swallowing up runners left and right. Gotta stay on your toes these days, omae, or become another deniable claim on a corp. report sheet. So if you’re up to make some quick nuyen, now’s the time to choose; in or out?

For your sake, and mine; I hope you’re in.

Shadowrun Returns hit the matrix… er, I mean it was released almost a month ago now. And to be honest in that short amount of time already has been turning heads and providing plenty of smiles. Now, if you haven’t ever played the original tabletop rpg, or the old sega/snes video games then don’t feel bad. Even if they are pretty awesome ways to kill some spare time. However, it is Returns though that proves (in my opinion) to be nothing less than a sinkhole that will swallow your spare time.

As soon as you jack yourself in… er, sorry; I am doing it again. Upon loading the game for the first time I have to admit that even as nostalgic as I was the experience didn’t disappoint at all. Even coming to the game without any past knowledge I think it is well presented enough to step you through making your first character and getting into things.

Your options are both varied and straightforward enough to enable you to craft a runner who is either as simple or as complex as you like. And to further strengthen things while you explore your way through the game it is so incredibly easy to advance your character in almost any way you would find appealing. Want to play a hulking troll who likes nothing more than to hack through security? No problem! Want to play a feisty little elf who loves to slice and dice anything in sight while calling themselves spanky? You can, although your friends may question your choice in names…

But the real powerhouse of pleasure to be found in Shadowrun Returns has got to be its storyline. The delicious content therein is nothing short of brilliant – honest. I could watch a movie play out or read such a tale over and over again. Actually, I have completed the main content ‘Dead Man’s Switch’ three times already and am on my fourth. In fact I think I am most of the way through it and once done will probably fire it up for a fifth play through. Yeah, it is that much fun.

The initial plot hook is more than compelling enough to snare your curiosity and when combined with a short flashback easily proves to be a great introduction sequence to start the game. During which you are given the option to show the help screen; a handy source of game play info (which is also just a click away at anytime in the game). I refuse to spoil the storyline by even mentioning part of it but if you are curious it is easily found via Google.

Another great source of personal reward, for me at least; is the replay value. Even if you have the whole story and think you’re satisfied I think you’ll be surprised how you may find yourself pondering other types of characters to try out. I have been having a blast replaying in different ways every time; from giving different answers to taking alternative tactics and even totally opposite play styles. There is no one ‘you must play this way to win.’ Don’t like the idea of a decker? Fine; in the matrix run mission scenes you can find an npc to handle it, you can piggy back with a retired pro, or simply choose another approach. In truth, it is fun to even find ways while playing to get around some fights and the like with a smile and a wink or even a flashed wad of funds.

There is more than enough variety to be a funfest for just about anyone. And if that isn’t enough for you it comes with an editor to create your own content – which others already have. Don’t let the graphics or its turn-based system fool you; this is a load of fun to be sure. I should know, I keep finding myself easily distracted by the temptation to simply finish one more scene before stopping.

So if you opt to take a run through the shadows; consider yourself warned. It’s all too easy to find yourself swallowed up by them chummer.

Shoot straight. Conserve ammo. And never, ever, cut a deal with a dragon.