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[Review] Shadowrun: Hong Kong

A tabletop RPG with a lot of lore behind it once again comes to the video gaming scene. Shadowrun: Hong Kong has an intriguing story and tactical battles that are not boring. Is it enough?

Developer: Harebrained Schemes

Windows Release Date: August 20, 2015

Do you want to work for a local triad boss?

You want to be a bad ass mercenary (aka Shadowrunner) with big time contacts? Do you want to work for a local triad boss? Are you a gamer that loves RPGs and reading? Do you enjoy turn based tactical games? Well then if you said yes to all that, then Shadowrun: Hong Kong is a perfect game to satiate your hunger.

There is no safe place in the streets of Hong Kong. Life is full of users and traitors. You get betrayed, you get set up, and suddenly you are working for a triad boss. The story of Shadowrun: Hong Kong is very much intriguing from start to finish. From the very beginning, I got really curious about the story and just wanted to keep going.

 

Gameplay and Story

Despite having a lot of reading content, I never got tired of it except when my eyes were already getting blurry and need a rest.

The main storyline is excellent on its own but side missions are also present. These side missions offer some action packed adventures (in a turn based tactical RPG way) and a lot of great story content that makes the world alive. Besides the stories you get from side missions, the NPCs in the world constantly have new stories to tell and new emotions from time to time after you do some runs. An RPG game needs to have some good writing content and Shadowrun: Hong Kong has this indeed.

I spend hours in between missions just talking to NPCs and do a lot of reading. Despite having a lot of reading content, I never got tired of it except when my eyes were already getting blurry and needed a rest.

Imagine our present world with dwarves, elves, orcs, trolls and dragons in it. That's the Shadowrun world.

Shadowrun’s near future universe is one filled with magic and technology combined. Imagine our present world with dwarves, elves, orcs, trolls and dragons in it. Yes, that’s right. Imagine our world with dragons. There is also advanced technology we see in our world today like computers and people who can use magic, which science finds hard to explain. It’s the same earth and the same places, just with a sci-fi-fantasy fictional lore.

I must admit that I did not really play the Shadowrun RPG tabletop game and I do not know any lore about Shadowrun. If you are also like that, there may be times where you might get lost with some dialogues. I did not like that at all. Since I’m a lore lover, I searched the net for Shadowrun lore and read a lot of it. Because of this, I enjoyed reading all of Shadowrun: Hong Kong’s dialogues. You must know that there are a lot of abbreviations and references in Shadowrun that you would not get if you did not read anything about Shadowrun lore. After all, Shadowrun is a tabletop RPG with a long list of novels to draw on.

This isn’t to say that you will not enjoy the game if you did not read Shadowrun lore like I did. In my experience, I just enjoyed and appreciated the game more when I did. I really do advise doing it though. There’s a free PDF Shadowrun primer in Harebrained-Schemes website anyway. And if you don’t love reading, you won’t be playing Shadowrun: Hong Kong in the first place anyway.

Narratives clearly describe things in an area.

Like in tabletop RPGs where Shadowrun originated from, dialogues in the game will have narratives that describes the surrounding area even though you already have a visual representation of it. It clearly describes the things in an area like minor details such as water dripping, the bad smell of rotten food, and the twitching muscles from an NPC you are talking to. The game’s narrative really feeds your imagination that would make you feel like you are the one inside the world.

Positioning, like most tactical battle games, is what makes Shadowrun fun.

Battles or enemy encounters in Shadowrun: Hong Kong is played out in a turn-based tactical battle. You can’t just run and gun and not expect to get wounded. There are walls you can hide in which increases your defense against enemy ranged attacks. Positioning, like most tactical battles, is a must and is what makes this kind of game fun.

There are a lot of possible builds you can make for your character.

You level up your main character and get to choose his stats. There are a lot of possible builds you can make for your character since this is based on a tabletop RPG. You can be a samurai that excels in melee combat and has tremendous physical strength and agility. You can be the same samurai who also excels in using shotguns which I find to be a good build since before you reach your enemy by being melee, it’s a good deal to have some firepower before you reach melee range. You can be a lot of stuff, and there’s a ton of combinations. It all really depends on how you want to roleplay your character.

These builds are not just about battle builds. Increasing your character’s charisma score also helps your character during conversations. Increasing some of your stats also unlock some dialogue options. Increasing your body or strength for example, unlocks dialogue options to threaten an NPC you are talking to which can save you the trouble of entering combat with that NPC.

Depending on how you choose to play the game, you can finish some missions without enemy encounters by choosing the right dialogue option.

Depending on how you choose to play the game, you can finish some missions without enemy encounters by choosing the right dialogue option. You get the same experience or karma gained anyway. Meaning it’s not about killing enemies like other RPGs where you can get experience. Remember that Shadowrun is a tabletop RPG first. In tabletop RPGs, you get rewarded XP through all the things your character does in the world and not just in killing monsters.

Sound

The good background music is a bonus but not required to enjoy the game.

The background music of Shadowrun: Hong Kong fits the cyberpunk world nicely. Footsteps, guns, bombs, magic all have good sound effects that make the game feel more alive. In my personal opinion however, I can play RPG games like Shadowrun: Hong Kong(games that have a lot of reading) without sounds. In playing these types of RPGs, your imagination is what is really needed to enjoy the game anyway. The good background music and sound effects is a bonus for me and it’s not bad but not required.

Controls

New and experienced turn based strategy players will have no problems with the simplicity of the controls.

The controls are simple with the traditional point and click where you want to go or in choosing dialogues. As an alternative in dialogues, there are keyboard shortcuts like pressing the number keys depending on the position of the dialogue option you want to choose. Shortcuts like pressing “TAB” to move on with a dialogue is also a good alternative than using the mouse to press the next button. New and experienced turn based strategy players will have no problems with the simplicity of the controls.

Conclusion

The story and narration is compelling and simply urges you to press on.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong is a great addition to the turn based strategy and roleplaying game genre. The turn based battles are fun and never got dull for me. The story and narration is compelling and simply urges you to press on. It was worth every penny and my time playing Shadowrun: Hong Kong. I don’t want to be a triad member in real life but being a triad badass in this game rocks!

With this, I give Shadowrun: Hong Kong an 8 out of 10.

Our Rating
8
A tabletop RPG with a lot of lore behind it once again comes to the video gaming scene. Shadowrun: Hong Kong has an intriguing story and tactical battles that are not boring. Is it enough?
Reviewed On: PC
Published Jan. 25th 2016
  • Kif Intil
    They have the extended edition available now on Steam, great game.

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