Shadowrun Returns Review

By , on October 15, 2013
Last modified 10 years, 9 months ago

Shadowrun Returns
Download on the AppStore
4 out of 5


  • An in-depth RPG presented in classic '90s-era style.
  • Combat is varied without being overly complicated.
  • Multiple characters offer different play styles.


  • Lacks the campaign modding ability of its PC counterpart.
  • Animations and character models are a little stiff.


Shadowrun Returns is a great PC RPG experience that translates well to the iPad. Hopefully it receives more campaigns in the future.

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For years now, the pen and paper game Shadowrun has delighted players with its mixture of magic, future-tech, and corporate espionage. The Kickstarter-funded Shadowrun Returns plays like a PC RPG from the late '90s. Cast as a titular Shadowrunner, you explore your surroundings, talk to the locals, take on quests, or just follow the clear story objectives.

When you get into a fight, the game turns into a less cinematic version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. You can take cover, use ranged or melee weapons, and - because this is a world of magic - sling spells at enemies and allies.

Your character's abilities and proficiencies are dependant on class and race. There are four varieties of meta-human (Elf, Dwarf, Ork, and Troll), or just the regular human variety. Classes include Mage, Street Samurai, Shaman, Decker, Rigger, and Physical Adept. This choice provides plenty of variety in play-style. For example, a Street Samurai is your standard mercenary warrior class proficient in firearms. A Decker hacks into computers, while Adepts enhance their own physical abilities through magic.

Selection and movement are both controlled via taps and swipes. There were times when our taps weren't recognised on a hotspot. You could also argue that dragging your finger along the screen to explore the world isn't as intuitive as a mouse. But these are minor criticisms that don't impact gameplay that drastically.

The world is presented in a vivid and intriguing way mostly through the descriptive text and dialogue. It's not that the visuals don't do their job, but a lot of the character found in Shadowrun Returns lies in the speech patterns of its inhabitants. And with no voice acting, those who dislike reading should probably look elsewhere.

While initially daunting due to its complex character skill sheets and lack of decent content tutorial, Shadowrun Returns sticks to a consistent pace that should keep players engaged right up until the end credits. It's a great world to spend some time in, and as it has all the trappings of a classic PC RPG with very few of the faults. It's not the longest RPG around, but it should keep you busy for at least ten to twelve hours. The lack of modding hurts its longevity, but hopefully the developers support it with new campaign updates in the future. In the meantime, the shadows await.


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