Friday, September 25, 2015

Shadowrun Returns - 8/20 hours

This game is really starting to heat up. It's still disappointing that you can't diverge from the main story, but now that I've started hiring shadowrunners and getting cyberware involved, it's starting to feel more like the fantasy-cyberpunk mashup I know it to be.

I guess I like the story. You're pursuing the threads of your friend's murder, and it turns out to tie in with this serial killer who is going around stealing people's organs, but once you find the killer, you learn that he was actually acting under orders, and then things get weird. I won't spoil it, because it's kind of neat, but unlike, say, Transistor, it doesn't provoke the sort of powerful emotional reaction that compels me to say something about it. Suffice to say, it's the sort of thing that is only really possible in a strange fantasy universe.

Nonetheless, as interesting as Shadowrun Returns story is turning out to be, I really can't wait to get it over with so I can experiment with the user-created content. The turn-based tactical combat is fun, and assembling a team of disparate metahumans with a variety of technological and magical superpowers is a compelling premise, but I can't help feeling that the game is missing something. You have a lot of options for how you build your team, and for what you can order them to do, but those options are constrained by the fact that you're forced to take on a particular set of missions, and thus have no special incentive to develop a specialized build.

For example, my current character specializes in using assault rifles, but has been investing in a secondary decking (think "hacking") specialty, and the main problem I've been having is that if you need a decker, the game gives you one (who, thanks to their monofocus, is better than me), but if you don't need one, there's nothing for your decker to do. If I could pick and choose my runs, then maybe you'd get a little more out of the character customization, but as it is, it kind of feels like window dressing at the moment.

I don't want to be too hard on the game, though. If the user-generated content can give me enough interesting stories to round out my twenty hours, then it will probably feel a lot like actually playing the tabletop game - you move from one railroad to another, but it's no big deal because you like the game and you like your character (I don't actually know how the user-generated content works, or whether you're allowed to keep the same character for different missions, but I'm hoping you do).

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