Shadowrun Returns… Again

 

Shadowrun Returns came out back in July of 2013, but this isn’t a new game. Nor is it just any old DLC expansion, no, Dragonfall is a whole new campaign of equal length, added on as a downloadable content. For those unaware, Shadowrun Returns is a turn-based RPG, with many of the classical elements of the tabletop, such as grid-based movement, stat checks, and plenty of out of combat decisions and skills. These similarities are not coincidental; the original Shadowrun is a tabletop RPG with some similarities to Dungeons & Dragons, dating all the way back to 1989. It was born from one of the chief desires of the early 90s/late 80s: to turn something beloved and old (in this case, high fantasy) into something modern and gritty. The result is something like a mash-up of Bladerunner and Tolkien, a bizarrely twisted future wracked by nuclear meltdowns, where cyborgs and omnipotent hackers live alongside (and sometimes are) dragons, elves, and trolls.

Dragonfall isn’t a continuation of the previous campaign, Dead Man’s Switch, but rather an entirely new storyline, with entirely new characters, give or take a few omnipotent and omnipresent characters throughout the setting. Dragonfall takes us to 2054, Berlin. Now an independent entity after the collapse of Germany under the weight of disaster and race riots, its neighborhoods are divided into local governments based on power and trust. The Flux-State exists in pure, classic, anarchy. From there, the player character is a mercenary, earning their bread in blood and stolen data, from corporate espionage and personal vendetta alike. Start a job that begins with death and deception, and ends with you taking your team of troll sniper, punk shaman, and mysterious cyborg through a maze of information, lies, and ever present danger, at the heart of which rests an ancient dragon.

If none of this sounds exciting at all, maybe it’s time to stop reading this article, pick up a beige, ceramic mug of lukewarm water, and read the phone book, because you’re boring. Of course, some might accuse this game, which I’m unabashedly talking up, of being boring as well. There’s an enormous amount of reading involved, as the only voice acting is in the noises people make upon taking a hit, and there are clues, conversations, and decisions everywhere in this game. One almost gets the feeling that you have an honest to god Dungeon Master sitting at a computer linked directly to yours, desperately reacting and crafting the world to your decisions. It’s also tactical and turn based, which for some, is a dealbreaker.

But if you consider yourself an RPG player, if you consider storyline a selling point on a game, and you don’t think that reading is something only for other people to do, you should pick up Shadowrun Returns, play through Dead Man’s Switch (which is quite good, also) and then jump straight onto Dragonfall. And if you’ve already got the base game, and you didn’t hate it, you owe it to yourself to pick up the new campaign. It’s even better than the first.

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