My Favorite things in 2014 - Day 3

Today we're back to games, and a return to one of the first science fiction universes that captured me as a teenager. Shadowrun Returns by Harebrained Schemes sought to recreate the seminal cyper-punk world of Shadowrun.

I loved the original RPG system, so this was a game I really wanted to succeed. 

Technically the first version appeared in 2013, but I am still having a lot of fun with the new installments of the game that appeared this year.

Shadowrun Returns was a Kickstarter funded game that successfully raised over 1.8 million dollars to make the game a reality. In fact you could argue the game is already on a third iteration. Harebrained followed up the first campaign, with a second, Dragonfall, and then a further 'Directors Cut' version of Dragonfall that appeared on Steam as a stand alone title. This final version is truly the best of the bunch, and while I enjoyed all of the campaigns so far, the Director's Cut really is the best version, and shows what a little extra time can do for indie developers.

Turn based tactics games are also a favorite genre of mine, so I was very glad when the game managed to deliver on most of my expectations last year. The Director's Cut manages to learn the lessons from those first versions and strikes a better balance between challenge and fun, which was not always the case with the first campaign. (which was plagued by some strange save game design choices, that often forced extensive replay of the same sections). It also added a better UI, some much needed polish, and even some new content and endings.

The writing is pretty good throughout, and captures the essence of the Shadowrun universe in most of it's beats. It's not a classic in the realm of say, the first two Fallout games, (there aren't anywhere near as many open ended solutions), but it does play solidly, and Dragonfall in particular presents an interesting story. I played through it twice (once in the original, and again with the Directors Cut), and did so happily.

There are actually some meaningful choices presented, and the characters are engaging. As I said at the top the Directors Cut of Dragonfall is definitely the best version of the game, and can be picked up as an entry now.

The community around the game has also made some fun and interesting mods with the toolsets that the devs released. 

So if you like yourself some old-school style tactics action in a dystopian cyperpunk future, Shadowrun Returns should be right up your street!