A first look at Shadowrun Returns


It started as a humble little video game homage that took it’s chances on Kickstarter, with a hope that the Shadowrun brand name still garners at least enough respect and popularity to generate a sum of money large enough to fund it. Harebrained Schemes decided to shoot low for a video game project; $400,000. “Surely,” they tought,  “we can produce a small game that will please some old-school fans of Shadowrun?” None of them were prepared for the tidal wave of fan-backing that they received in record time. In just over 24 hours, Harebrained Schemes had it’s $400,000…and the fan generosity did not stop there. By the end of it’s Kickstarter life, Shadowrun Returns had earned a staggering $1.8 MILLION dollars.

What has all of this cheddar bought us? Well, Jordan Weisman and Mitch Gitelman take us through a 20 minute preview of the Alpha build of Shadowrun Returns:

The final verdict of what this Alpha build looks like?

THIS wizard thinks it’s $1.8 million WELL-SPENT!

I suppose this doesn’t mean much, seeing as how I am notoriously easy to please…not to mention that I’m totally a mark for anything Shadowrun.

However, I have been seeing nothing but praise from sites like Joystiq and Kotaku.  In fact, most everything I’ve read from people have been praise and excitement over it. It’s a pleasant change from a gaming society that scoffs at a new title if it doesn’t have graphics so realistic it might as well have been a film, or grand operatic storytelling that would shame Shakespeare…and let’s not forget the need to include as much graphic violence and sexual content as one can get away with. I suppose I could go on about how spoiled the gaming community is nowadays.

Sure, this video already has some detractors. You might see some folks don’t like the art style. For some, the game doesn’t look good unless it looks completely real. Ignore it, because it’s just a side effect of a complete lack of imagination; for the rest of us who grew up with Shadowrun, we were very happy with the great art of Jeff Laubenstein in the RPG. We felt just as much a “part of the world” with the graphical limitations of the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis. We were able to immerse ourselves in the Shadowrun world without it being fed to us, or our realities dictated to us by “photo-realism.”

A few other select individuals are saying that “This isn’t what Shadowrun looks like…it should be like [insert description here].” Personally, I think it’s adorable when people are so enamored with their own worldview that they deign to tell the SERIES CREATOR OF SHADOWRUN what Shadowrun should look like.

Do I have a nitpick or two about the game from what little any of us have seen of it? Sure. However, this is still the Alpha build of Shadowrun Returns, and some things are still subject to change. However, there are a few things I’m hoping get changed:

1) When on a run, and not perceived by enemies and such, I’m hoping that there is an option to have your group follow you rather than having to go through EVERY round individually moving each character throughout a facility or other zone. The game could always drop back to “Tactical combat mode” automatically like it did in the beginning of the video.

2) I’m not sure I like the idea of having conversation options “greyed out,” instead of being invisible if you cannot select them. There’s something a bit “spoileriffic” about being able to see all of the options that MIGHT have been available, rather than playing through with a different character, insuring a bit more replay value.

..and that’s it. Again, it’s an Alpha build, and there’s a lot more to see, but I’m excited as hell to see more!

What’s better than all of this? Let’s toss in the game editor that allows YOU, the PLAYER, to create DLC for the game and make it available to everyone who plays! I can’t really stress enough that Harebrained Schemes has written a love letter to every loyal Shadowrun fan, and not only honored our $1.8 million trust in them by making a beautiful game, but went the extra mile to make the game YOUR GAME.

As someone who as introduced to the world of Shadowrun through the Sega Genesis game, jumped in on the RPG proper in it’s Second Edition, enjoyed the SNES game, played the card game, read the novels, raged against the 2006 first-person shooter, and experienced every other aspect of the Shadowrun franchise to date, I can say one thing with perfect honesty, clarity, and confidence:

“This LOOKS like Shadowrun. This FEELS like Shadowrun. This IS Shadowrun; and it has returned in a big way!”

PRE-ORDER your copy of Shadowrun Returns and get some shiny bonus stuff!


See you in the shadows, chummers!

Posted on March 9, 2013, in News, Video Games and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. MIchael Chandra

    Regarding the greyed-out options, iirc Mitch posted that people can decide in the editor whether to show them greyed-out or hide them. Inside the main campaign I’d expect them to keep them though seeing as how they expressed they like showing them at SXSW.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: