Shadowrun Returns: An Ode to Cyberpunk and Fantasy
The title is the truth. Shadowrun is back, and in the best way that anyone could have hoped for. Whether you’re a fan of the books, the video games, the tabletop RPG or just the deep, dark world of subversive cyberpunk & science fantasy, Shadowrun Returns is a huge RPG and much more than most. Bringing more than just a highly enjoyable and replayable delve into one of cyberpunk’s most beloved worlds, Shadowrun Returns heralds the arrival of a million new worlds with not only the game itself, but the expansive and easy-to-use campaign editor as well.
What a Wonderful World... sort of
There is man, magic and machine. The Mayans weren’t wrong. The world would indeed end in the year 2012. They failed to predict, however, that a new one would rise. A world of magic, long subdued by human progress and skepticism, has returned to bring out the dormant genes hidden in mankind. Genetics of species long forgotten, such as elves and dwarves, orcs and trolls. Welcome to Seattle, 2054.
There is such texture to this world. You can smell the grime, like burning plastic, or hair (or both). The most dedicated fans of the franchise will see many elements return, not only from the previous video games in the series, but from the novels and RPG books as well. A great sum of everything the Shadowrun universe has built up thus far, Shadowrun Returns is a sort of be-all and end-all by virtue of its limitless potential. The plot isn’t even the main attraction here. It’s a fantastic story, brilliantly built to bring out a great array of decision-making, action and drama. But, what is most exciting is the future of the modding community.
The Future is Coming
Already, there are a great many mods around for Shadowrun Returns, not to mention the astounding amount of content already integrated through Steam Workshop. In addition to the many tile sets, character models and portraits available to the player/designer immediately in the campaign editor, there are many more assets just waiting to be used via the Steam Workshop. Already, there is an alpha version of the original SNES Shadowrun. It’s as great as it sounds, even for those who never had the pleasure. New mechanics are introduced, GM resources, craftings, and a thousand new stories ready to be told. While its a mighty fine offering right off the bat, in a year or two there will be more stories and assets of superb quality than one player could possibly digest.
Though the RPG elements of the game are just about exactly drawn from the tabletop RPG and the original games, there’s enough versatility and capacity for any player to flesh out their class as they see fit. Classes themselves are relatively fluid, as what skills the player elects over the course of their play will result in vastly different characters by the end of the campaign. While the length and depth of the game and RPG elements, respectively, could certainly be longer and deeper, there’s enough here to present a high quality initial offering, with the promise of so much more to come.
Neon, Acid Rain, and Implants (of every lurid variety)
This is an astoundingly perfect offering to Shadowrun players, who haven’t seen the game this franchise deserves since the first 16-bit offerings. Mitch Gitelman has absolutely atoned for any perceived sins from years past. His work on 2007’s Shadowrun didn’t garner the best reception. Despite crafting a very fine game, he himself has stated that it was a poor reintroduction of the Shadowrun franchise. But his work here, alongside the project lead and original creator of Shadowrun, Jordan Weisman, shows that someone was surely listening to our pleas for a better Shadowrun.
Mitch, we forgive you! And thank you!
Return to Shadowrun, Never to Leave Again!
This is exactly what I was hoping for. In fact, I haven’t been this pleased with the result of a highly anticipated title in recent memory. Though surely not perfect, Shadowrun Returns is a great RPG with a timeless feel that honorably delivers the cyberpunk magic we’ve wanted for so damn long.