Shadowrun Returns: Cyberpank and Magic

Today we are going to prepare an extraordinary but very tasty meal. So, for that matter you will need: a big portion of RPG, cyberpank outlook on life, a Fallout fight technology mixed with magic and, of course, creative ideas hiding behind every stone. Some people call this dish a 35$ special, but for others it is also known as Shadowrun Returns. So, grab a spoon or a fork and prepare yourself for the best banquet in your life.

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Shadowrun Returns is a well balanced mixture of all the ingredients mentioned above and not only. From the very first minutes of the gameplay you do get a feeling that its creators have been inspired with the bestsellers of the pasting years and made a decision to bring this inspiration on a lot better level with technological achievements and magic. The new face of Shadowrun Returns combines both material and spiritual worlds in one gameplay and even with that Ace in hand has a few more things to surprise with.

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On the one hand, you do get access to the regular set of cyberpank features like chips, global evil corporations, hackers, digital advantage and stuff alike. On the other hand you dive into the world of magic with unnatural creatures like orks, elves, mutants and others. Back in 2011 people of the Earth has made a decision to play God and this was his response to the selfish desire. But all of them live in harmony (so to speak) and do not mind do the regular human things. After all, they have access to the newest technological achievements as well as powerful magical tricks. I would definitely survive in a world like this, even if I would have been an elf.

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But why the game is called Shadowrun Returns? As a matter of fact, Shadowrun is more than just a mysteriously cool title for the game. Shadowruners are bounty hunters or, better to stay, people and creatures who are ready to do almost anything for money. Shadowrun Returns tells us a story about one of those guys who receives a message from his good old friend and comrade. Unfortunately, the friend is dead but you can revenge his murder for pretty serious reward if you seem to have enough guts to find the killer.

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Well, here’s when Shadowrun Returns starts its 12 hour gameplay. But before you become overexcited, I need to warn you about something: the very first levels of Shadowrun have almost nothing in common with the world of cyberpunk. Instead of blasting enemies with technological powers you will be acting like a newbie detective. Long talks with bartenders and witnesses, scrupulous walks in the back of the building and things alike will turn in a regular outcome of almost any case. But only at the beginning. The further you go, the more unexpected things turn out to be. Attacks from behind, fireballs flying from around the corner, lightning striking from windows. All that and even more will rather sooner than later turn into your routine. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

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By all means, Shadowrun Returns is a 100% old school RPG game and this can scare off the players of new era but even if you consider yourself to be a representative of this group, I would strongly recommend you to give this game a try. It is totally worth it! Shadowrun Returns has not cutscenes and no Hollywood actors are voicing the characters but even without those things it has a lot of stuff to offer. Trust me.

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Shadowrun Returns is a lot like chess where every move has a certain meaning. You have to think, move and then think again. Another thing that you might not like is the number of texts. You will have to read a lot. Of course, you can always skip the reading and get to the action but you are definitely going to lose a lot and forever. In the long texts you will be able to find tips, advises, key words and even passwords. Again – another reference to the Old School gaming and stressing on imagination.

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Shadowrun Returns has a very specific rollplay system but it is easy to understand and happens to be gamer friendly. If you are familiar with the XCOM: Enemy Unknown, then you might spot some of the moves and styles used in the game. At the very beginning of the game, you will have two movement points. They can be used to do almost anything starting with moving and going up to shooting and using magic. With time and character upgrades you will get the possibility to increase the number of movement points and, of course, do more for the same period of time. Fights in Shadowrun Returns seem to be easy and simple but the number of tactical and strategy maneuvers exceeds all expectations. Together with the real life fights, you will also be forced to fight in the virtual world that is called Matrix. Fights in Matrix happen to be reflections of the real world fights except for the tiny little difference that instead of you and your partners you will be in control of programs.

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In general, not a single bad word can be said about the fights scenes in Shadowrun Returns. Everything in here is the way it should be – well balanced and user friendly. Also, unexpected scripted surprises will be waiting for you behind every corner or even every cover. I bet you think it’s a good idea to hide behind that barrel? I can say with a firm that you’ve never been so wrong, my dear friend. Not only you can get into a serious trouble, but also lose half of your health and all movement points in the room filled with enemies. Sounds like fun? Not any more.

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Sure, you can use your partners to help you out but there is one and more than just important thing to remember about those people, or creatures or whatever you want to call them. Shadowruners have no friends and even their partnership with others can last no more than two hours. You can kill up to three hours solving your partner’s problems and the very same minute you succeed, your guarding angel can leave you without a notice. Maybe, in other games I would have thrown out my mouse in a trash can, but in Shadowrun Returns this move has more reasons to exist than anything else.

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Frankly speaking, the word “partner” here plays a secondary role. Even the process of hiring the helpers who will watch your six is too casual. Before every mission you go online and choose someone from the web. Different characters with different possibilities: some are good at firing from the distance and prefer to use brutal force, others don’t mind stealth actions and would rather stay in the shadow than blindly attack the new locations. But there are also those who “speak” with machines and can make them join your side with the help of a little hack or you can hire those who will have the work done without getting their hands dirty.

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The number of fighting strategies in the game is pretty much unlimited, especially taking into consideration a very special fact that you have technology, weapons and magic on your side. But, as you keep on playing, the game itself encourages you to create a certain kind of strategy that could have been repeated as many times as possible. But on the other hand, isn’t this a problem of every RPG game? If you have a bow – you try to use it only from the distance staying as far from the target as possible or you hit and dodge when you are a light armored warrior with fast but not deadly swords.

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But you should definitely not worry about the repeatedly simultaneous fighting scenes as far as there is something else that should concern you. So, if you prefer to save your progress after every move, then Shadowrun is definitely not for you. You see, the game has pretty strange and very uncomfortable saving system. You can only save your progress at the beginning of every new level. Ingame saving is not present in Shadowrun Returns and if you do something wrong, it is very likely that you will have to replay the level one more time. Luckily, you will have an opportunity to roll back to the last checkpoint but this still won’t save the situation.

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Shadowrun Returns was made with the direct reference to the old school Fallout and games alike, so its graphics can’t compete with the newest game achievements. But at the same time you do not get uncomfortable when you play the game. Everything looks the way it should and the world of darkness, technology and magic appears in front of you just the way you would have imagined it.

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Shadowrun Returns offers more than just exciting and unforgettable gameplay and every level carries something to surprise you with. Though, somewhere in the middle you might get a bit bored because of the similar fight scenes. But, this one is on you and if you are bored of taking down enemies from the distance with a sniper rifle, grab a shotgun and use magic to make casual become extreme and breathtaking. After all, Shadowrun Returns allows you to be as creative as possible and limits your moves and strategy only with your imagination. Also, in order to prove that Shadowrun Returns has very powerful and, at the same time, simply and user friendly editor that will allow gamers to create their own levels and challenges for other people. Thank a lot for this kind of generosity.

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Shadowrun Returns is a perfect RPG with a perfect idea, great story timing and pretty good fighting gaming. Though, first of all it was created for people who enjoy the old school gaming and old school RPGs. Without the graphics, Shadowrun Returns reminds me Fallout more than anything else. Also, back in times the lack of graphical decoration was compensated with texts and dialogues and this game repeats the good tradition of reading and inspiration for making your own conclusions.

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But is it worth 35$, should it be in your game collection and do I recommend it? Yes, yes and yes. It is worth every dollar and even more. Maybe some players won’t recognize a masterpiece in Shadowrun Returns but if you were born back in the 90s or earlier, this game is a must. Really! Do I recommend it? More than anything else! Every new tryout to complete the game will bring something unexpected and something fresh.

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On the top of all, Shadowrun Returns is coming on iOS and Android platforms and sometimes in September or October will reach both stores, probably, with a lot better price tag. And you know what – I do believe that on a tablet it is going to look and work even better than it does on a PC. But we will have a chance to check that out soon.

Author: Oleg Repetskiy

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