Monday, August 5, 2013

Review: Shadowrun Returns

I've spent some more time with Shadowrun Returns since my last post, and I'm still enjoying it. The story and dialogue are well-written; the puzzles are pleasantly challenging without being frustrating; the combat engine is simple and fun. It's not a terribly deep or complex game, though the different character classes provide a lot of variety. I'm playing a mage, but I'm looking forward to replaying it so that I can try the adept, the decker, the shaman, the rigger, and the street samurai.

I've heard that the campaign isn't very long -- only about a dozen hours -- but honestly, that's fine for me, given that I don't have time to sink hundreds of hours into a game. With a story this short, I can actually look forward to finishing a few replays during my lifetime. Also, player-created missions and campaigns should provide a lot more material.

The campaign editor isn't as user friendly as Neverwinter's, but the online documentation helps flatten the learning curve a little. I've started building my own little adventure, and I have ideas for several more.

My only serious complaint is the same complaint you'll see on any public discussion about the game: your progress is only saved at the start of each map. So if you enter a map, conduct a few conversations, solve a puzzle or two, get into combat, and get killed, you have to start all over at the beginning of the map and run the same conversations and puzzles. This can be frustrating, especially if you have to stop play and step away from the computer for any reason. I'm sure this design decision saved them a fair amount of development effort, but it's a significant flaw in an otherwise enjoyable game.

Even with the checkpoint-based save feature, I'm still pleased with the game and I don't regret backing the Kickstarter in the slightest.  I've heard that the developers will be releasing a second campaign in October, which is supposed to be somewhat less linear than the first campaign. Since I'm a Kickstarter backer, I'll be getting it for free. I'm looking forward to playing it, and to releasing my own epic neo-noir cyberpunk adventures.