Sunday, 18 August 2013

Shadowrun Returns (briefly)

I used to religiously play Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and Neverwinter Nights (never did finish any of them!) as well as the Fallout games(which I did finish), but switched to a console a few years back for some reason. Probably a lack of decent games on PC at the time, but buying a mac certainly didn't help either. On Friday evening I found that the Shadowrun Returns Mac client had been publicly released on Steam and it looked just like all those games I loved, so I thought I'd give it a try. What could be better than a turn based, isometric cyberpunk rpg?

Visually it's quite pretty, rendered to look like an animated painting. The details aren't crisp, but not enough to detract from things.

Unfortunately, the rest of the interface implementation feels like a throwback to the mid '90s as you're stuck in that view and the only interactions you have are to zoom in/out a teensy bit.

Story wise it's an enjoyable adventure with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing... but, in another retro moment, it's completely and utterly linear. About the only choices (other than the actual combat segments) that you get to make are which runners to hire and which pieces of equipment you buy. Every set piece leads directly onto the next scripted set piece, giving you no freedom to explore the world or take side missions... I think there was one point where I had two missions to choose from, but that is it. We're obviously spoilt with free roaming RPGs like Skyrim and Fallout 3 today, so I think lots of people were expecting something a little bit more flexible. 

All in all I think the adventure took about 6 hours to complete and my team only felt seriously threatened once on the default settings, so I would recommend upping the difficulty if you want a challenge. Load times between maps is also slow. At one point I assumed it had crashed and killed the game as it was still loading after about 5 minutes.

Having just moaned about it being linear, not particularly taxing and very very retro with some load time issues... I still really enjoyed it and would recommend it to others as not only do you get a fun little story, but it comes with an editor and what looks to be quite an active community as there are a number of additional adventures complete with more in the works. There is also another official adventure coming sometime in January to look forward to.

It has made me want to go back and play all the old D&D games again (if I can get them to work on my mac!)... so retro is obviously a good thing ;)

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