Shadowrun Returns Review

Review of Shadowrun Returns

Shadowrun had a good setting, you know. It was a mix of cyberpunk and a crowd of orcs, elves, gnomes, and trolls from fairy kingdoms. It’s a surefire option when elves are hooked on the heroin of the future, orcs walk around in leather jackets and sell that very heroin of the future to the elves, and gnomes work as pathologists and carve out cyber prosthetics with laser jigsaws. Meanwhile, they get high on miracle herbs and cast fireballs, just like in the good old feudal times. It’s impossible to miss.

However, the first Fallout games didn’t sell well either, despite… So think about hardcore role-playing games with isometric graphics and mature content after that. But again, Fallout with its sequel became games of all time and were destined for a rebirth, while Shadowrun didn’t create such a big buzz, and that played two jokes on it, a good one and a bad one.

SR Sreenshot

Retour vers le futur

The downside is that without the mission of all niche projects called, the brand would have remained buried, only resurfacing during stories about it. especially green grass from the past Good joke: while Fallout mutated heavily (muahaha), Shadowrun came back to us practically the same fruit it was.

Here we have old isometry and old murky showdowns. When the world is gloomy and colorful in the old way, and you look at it from the old perspective, you feel like you’ve come to the right place. I dare to suggest that new gamers will feel about the same on their first try as pioneers felt in their time. In my opinion, this is very cool; in any case, they definitely didn’t lie to us about returning to That Very atmosphere.

Loading screens SR

On the loading screens, you can read what happened in Seattle while your computer was processing data.

Plus, it seems to me that over these years the screenwriters have finally managed to truly befriend the Grim Worlds of the Future and have become much less likely to produce overly pompous allegorical parables. They have adapted to these conditions in a more practical way, so to speak. They have mastered the rhythm, the necessary degree of passion, and so on. After all, it’s one thing to write “The Matrix” and another to write a script for a supporting role, an episode of a series, and so on.

It is worth noting that Shadowrun Returns is obviously niche. It would undoubtedly be very fun if we were given another third Deus Ex (which, by the way, is quite similar in mission structure to our role-playing game), but that would be a completely different story, not about and certainly not about old gaming traditions.


I love the leveling system of Shadowrun Returns.

As you can easily predict, we have points – this time it’s Karma Points – that need to be distributed. You need to distribute them among different branches with various bonuses. Depending on the chosen profession, you will likely need different ones, of course. The problem of calculating how many points are needed for each level-up is elegantly solved: we need a second level of intelligence – it will cost you two Karma Points, not counting one point for the first level; we need a sixth level of drone control – it will cost you six Karma Points, not counting previous levels. Logical and simple.

Raised main characteristics grant access to abilities of the corresponding branch and level. If you have seven points in speed, you can raise proficiency in all available types of guns up to seven. Eight in charisma – eight steps on all shaman career ladders.

Karma is earned by completing assigned tasks and nothing else. If you need to infiltrate a secure bunker, it doesn’t matter if you persuade someone there or simply take out all the guards, so getting into fights, as happens in many other RPGs, is not necessary. As a result, this very roleplaying doesn’t dissolve in the pursuit of bonus points for domination. Then, whether you want it or not, you start to immerse yourself.

For now, you can only immerse yourself in one “official” scenario called The Dead Man’s Switch, but there are already fan-made works of varying attractiveness in the Steam Workshop. Plus, in October, the developers themselves promise us a “Berlin scenario” with a new tileset and goodies.

Distribute karma

For some contextually magical reasons, the game will not explain anything to noobs. Serious business starts right from the start menu. New game > Scenario. If you want an introductory course, go play SNES. Although, why am I even saying this, they won’t give it to you there either.

I laughed heartily when the Shadowrun Returns client advised me, “If something happens, press F1.” Then the game will open an illustrated help brochure, which is actually quite simple but strongly reminiscent of help files from some Microsoft Word. What have I gotten myself into?

They don’t hold your hand here, no, but they will help you with a few things in the first couple of hours. In a subtle way, you know. When you need to fight the first guy or have an especially intriguing dialogue, SRR will transparently hint that, well, you’ve played this kind of thing before, you know what’s going on, and mechanically it’s like this, with these particular spices.

They will also start throwing references to “The Silence of the Lambs,” “The X-Files,” “Neuromancer” (where would we be without it in this theme?) and everything-everything, especially from the nineties. Well, everything from the nineties just stands out a lot. Honestly, in just five minutes of gameplay, you can come across three big Easter eggs.

Overall, the designers did a good job with this. And the game doesn’t hold you as a fool – sort of – and in case of anything, you can always figure out what’s what based on the hints. Luckily, the interface of our RPG turned out to be pleasant, although a bit raw in some places.

Just mechanics

In general, all the complaints I have about Shadowrun Returns relate to purely “technical” aspects of the game.

On one hand, we have an intuitively arranged button layout on the monitor, but on the other hand, there are many unfinished moments.

For example, you can’t access the menu from within the game. Seriously. There is a separate save loading screen – by the way, inconvenient and impractical – there is an option to “exit”, and that’s it. If you want to adjust the sound or screen resolution on the fly, you have to search for hotkeys by trial and error. At certain moments, this is honestly frustrating. It disrupts the rhythm.

Seamstress Union

Bar Seamstress Union. The curious can ask the owner of the establishment about the origin of the name.

And now a few words about the unfortunate saves. The game has saving at solidly embedded checkpoints throughout the episodes, and these checkpoints can be very far apart. Sometimes, it takes at least five minutes to go through dialogues and complete peaceful story quests before a single challenging battle, and often, it’s for all three tactical battles. Again and again.

And, in the end, the local hacker matrix can glitch.


Well, I have warned you about all the technical aspects, and before I finally recommend Shadowrun Returns to all fans of tactical RPGs and interesting games in general, I will say one more thing that I never want to mention, but here it is necessary. I didn’t notice any Russian localization in SR, and there is a lot of text in it, so without at least some knowledge of the English language, getting real enjoyment from the game will be a separate linguistic challenge.

Well, overall, 8 out of 10.

The Kickstarter project did not deceive us and delivered exactly what we paid for. An engaging game set in a unique cyberpunk world with excellent role-playing mechanics.

And let’s not forget that this is not just a one-time escape, but also a set for creating our own scenarios, which many people are already using and sharing their creations online. Plus, periodically, you will be able to download (I’m not sure about the free aspect and I don’t want to lie to you) rich add-ons from the developers themselves.

Shadowrun Returns
Harebrained Schemes
Harebrained Schemes
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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