Shadowrun Returns Review

Shadowrun Returns' first campaign feels like it was written by what D&D players would call 'the stubborn storyteller' - the dungeon master whose 'important decisions' always feel like they lead to the same place. Thankfully this story - and your interaction with it - are strong enough that, for the most part, this can be overlooked.

This franchise has always been an unusual mix of cyberpunk and high fantasy, where Human Technomancers and Ork Urban Mages can coexist peacefully without snickering at each other’s silly names. Shadowrun Returns blends different genres, telling a story that’s part detective work, part save-the-world-from-horrible-monsters, continually switching between point-and-click adventure and turn-based tactical gameplay: a refreshing change to your more standard fantasy RPG.

The combat itself is arguably a little too forgiving. Although it borrows ideas from games like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, with half/full cover and an overwatch mechanic, it certainly doesn’t share the same level of complexity. My group only failed once, after being forced to start a mission without purchasing medkits. The real danger comes from the fact that manual saving isn’t an option, a strange and frustrating omission.

That aside, the overarching challenge is figuring out the best way to spend your credits. After each chapter you return to your hideout with some form of reward, but you’re unlikely to be able to afford absolutely everything that you desire. Upgrades and progression aren't slavishly tied to power-leveling - I even forwent cybernetics, instead remaining competitive by finding a balance between the upgrades, consumables and whichever mercenaries you want in your squad for the next quest.

There’s at least one more campaign in the works right now (supposedly set in Berlin), but the real future for Shadowrun, in my mind, will come from the players themselves via the bundled editor. A good start.

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7 / 10

  • Leveling system is good
  • Interesting storyline
  • No manual save
  • Possibly a little too easy

Click above for enlarged Shadowrun Returns Screenshots


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User Comments

Bratterz's Avatar

Bratterz@ CCastiel

I don't think we'll do anything directly with the editor but I'll definitely be keeping an eye on the community stuff, so we might highlight some of our favourites at some point.
Posted 18:25 on 25 July 2013
CCastiel's Avatar

CCastiel@ Bratterz

That's a good point about the equipment, I could understand if they wanted the save system to be less forgiving in terms of people making a bad decision and then loading up the game from a few seconds ago.

However yeah that seems a bit of a kick in the balls to change all your equipment and then have it reset like that.

Will you be making any kind of feature about the in-game editor?
Posted 18:09 on 25 July 2013
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm@ Bratterz

Accessibility is a big thing these days for some reason.
Posted 18:04 on 25 July 2013
DeadlyBlowfish's Avatar

DeadlyBlowfish@ Bratterz

That was very helpful indeed, I hope this infrastructural problem doesn't spill over into player created content, but I guess that depends on the flexibility of the editor. Thanks a lot for answering my question!

By the way, the new review system is great - your coverage on this game, for example, is far more interesting than anything else I've seen out there.
Posted 17:14 on 25 July 2013
Bratterz's Avatar

Bratterz@ Bloodstorm

Ha! Seriously, I don't understand what they're thinking with this.

You can spend 15 minutes at the hideout tinkering with your gear and buying upgrades, but the game won't remember this until you start the next mission and trigger an autosave. Why would you do this to me?! :<

Don't confuse this with XCOM's Ironman setting which saves after every turn.
Posted 16:57 on 25 July 2013
Bratterz's Avatar

Bratterz@ DeadlyBlowfish

Hey Blowfish, thanks for reading.

The difficulty settings change the enemy stats, which I didn't have a problem with (especially as I was handicapping myself slightly by avoiding cybernetic upgrades).

The enemy AI isn't particularly good, which I highlighted in the video. Enemy units will often be happy to stand out in the open and don't seem to care much for positioning at all. They rely on the same few attacks and don't usually take advantage of cover.

Certain aspects of the gameplay just feel a little bit shallow right now. I would have liked the game to punish the player's mistakes! Losing mercenaries didn't cause any long-term problems and you have to be super unobservant to miss the bonus objectives in each mission.

I could have made the game more challenging by increasing the difficulty and as a result, face enemies with more HP/damage/accuracy, but this doesn't stop the gameplay itself from feeling simplistic.

Hope that helped!
Posted 16:53 on 25 July 2013
Bloodstorm's Avatar


"The real danger comes from the fact that manual saving isn’t an option, a strange and frustrating omission"

Posted 16:26 on 25 July 2013
DeadlyBlowfish's Avatar


I'm not entirely sure if "possibly a little too easy" is a valid critique, given the existence of a variety of different difficulty modes. Care to expand on this Chris?
Posted 16:21 on 25 July 2013

Game Stats

Shadowrun Returns
Out of 10
Shadowrun Returns
  • Leveling system is good
  • Interesting storyline
  • No manual save
  • Possibly a little too easy
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Release Date: 25/07/2013
Platform: PC
Developer: Harebrained Schemes
Genre: Fantasy RPG
Rating: TBC
Site Rank: 17,687 49
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