Friday, July 26, 2013

Shadowrun Returns

I've played 70 minutes of this game according to Steam. It feels JUST like Shadowrun (the pnp), if not in terms of actual rules than certainly in the way the game unfolds. Kill Switch, the campaign that came with the game, pulls on all of the great Shadowrun tropes. The storytelling aspect of the game is phenomenal so far; like games of yore, it doesn't really focus on High End Graphics™ or Branching Plots™. Rather, the game is all about the story and the NPC interaction. Like the games of my youth, most of it is really explored through text: all NPC dialog, all descriptions of items that you come upon, is written down. The graphics provide an entry point to the world and a way to see where you are when you're in combat, but the core experience is told through text dialog.

The combat is fun and reminds me a good deal of the current iteration of X-com games in terms of mechanics. The rules for character advancement don't exactly follow the deep complexity of the Shadowrun pnp -- but nor do they need to. Summoning spirits is fast and easy. Dialog options based on various attributes add flavor to the game and the various ways you can accomplish something make being a mage or a decker, a bruiser or a street samurai, fun and entertaining. Can't hack into a door? Perhaps if you have a high enough charisma you can convince someone to open it for you. That's the kind of thing that really does help emulate what a pnp feels like. Not that you can do just anything you want.

Yes, the game is on some strict story rails. But, you know what? It doesn't suffer for it. That's just the kind of game it is. It's a story game, not a true pnp, and in order to execute the story well they need to make sure it advances. The way they draw you in instantly is great, and the game never lets up with the traditional Shadowrun plot elements.

The game is heartily endorsed.

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