MSRP: $14.99 (Steam) / $1.99 (mobile / tablet on compatibility)
Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
I’m going address my biggest complaint first – the pricing structure for mobile vs. non-mobile platforms. While it’s not uncommon to see games adapted for mobile platforms then sold for about half the price, this goes beyond irritating and into the territory of utter absurdity. While you’ll never convince me that most games give a better play experience on a computer (especially when mods and user-generated content are on offer), there’s just no good reason for a price difference this extreme.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s talk about the game, shall we?
Shadowrun Returns was originally intended to be a base game with future campaigns as downloadable content, but somewhere along the line, the DLCs were reimagined as stand-alone games. People will sometimes refer to Shadowrun Returns as DMS (or Dead Man’s Switch), as that is the title of the campaign. There are no other game modes, but non-mobile also receives access to a game editor and copious amounts of user generated content, as is fitting for a franchise based on a pen and paper role playing game.
Although I’ve dabbled in a few tabletop RPGs, I knew almost nothing about Shadowrun and its systems. The developers definitely took that into account and allowed for a pretty standard character creation experience, although there is an option for advanced creation if you’re comfortable with that. With multiple classes and races, it wasn’t too hard to find something to suit my play style (and honestly, there were multiple options that I found intriguing).
Game play is fixed-camera isometric, with turn-based tactical combat. During various points at the game, you will need to control multiple characters. Although I’ve been starting to play more tactical RPGs, I still found the combat a little challenging to get used to, but given the turn-based nature, and the fact that I’m playing on normal difficulty, it wasn’t too bad.
The Dead Man’s Switch campaign is extremely linear, something that can get irritating in an RPG, however, the story is everything here. I mean, the game looks good, it sounds good, and it’s enjoyable to play, but it wouldn’t have a whole lot of staying power if it didn’t make you care about solving the mystery of your friend’s murder. You can expect to get between 12 – 15 hours out of the campaign, and is probably best played in a few longer sessions.
The second game in the series, Shadowrun: Dragonfall, is rumored to be even better than the first, and it’s not uncommon to hear people say that Shadowrun Returns can be skipped without much regret. I usually prefer to play things in order, when I’m able, and I’m enjoying this game enough to make me look forward to the rest of the series as well, but those looking to get the most bang for their play time may want to skip ahead. Having picked it up on a 75% off deal, I have no regrets.