Our first true look at Shadowrun Returns

You may remember that Shadowrun Returns was one of the well-featured Kickstarter games of this site, which stole my heart with its ambitious and dedicated team of programmers and game designers. You could see how passionate they were with each video update and for a franchise that’s been around that long I could tell this project was going in the right direction. Looks like I was right, because the first look at this game after only a few months of work has left me extremely impressed.

For those who don’t know, Shadowrun is one of the most popular pen-and-paper RPGs after D&D and for good reason. It combines elements of cyberpunk and fantasy, using races like elves, orcs and dragons and throwing them into a future version of Seattle, WA. Players use both guns and magic as “shadowrunners” to take on various jobs from corporations like stealing information from rival companies or assassinating key people. Its a rich world that’s been around since the 80’s and has even evolved to stay in line with the times: where we once thought people would use personal “decks” in the future for computing, now everything is done wirelessly.

Shadowrun has actually been iterated as a video game several times over the last few decades, dying a horrible death with the 2007 release of an FPS version that basically fell flat on its face. After a long time of negotiations and acquisitions, the original creator of the game, Jordan Weisman, was able to get rights back for the franchise and launch an outstanding Kickstarter campaign in April that earned over $1.8 million. The game has been in development ever since and now they are showing it off.

An infographic of the change of hands the Shadowrun franchise has passed between over the years

Typically I don’t expect many updates from Kickstarters after they have gotten their funding, not until a long while later. Development takes time, so I don’t usually press them very early, but Harebrained Schemes has really outdone themselves with some of the first screens of the game (gallery at the bottom). One of the shots is a “glory shot,” as they’ve dubbed it, presenting a team of player-characters.

Our goal is to create a game that reflects the original tabletop RPG’s narrative and tactical detail, and acts as the spiritual successor to the groundbreaking Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Shadowrun games from way back in the 90’s.

The game takes an isometric view from afar, not too unlike concept shots for another Kickstarter called Wasteland 2. Because so many characters will need to be controlled on the screen at once, it will use a low polygon count for most of the characters. Looking at how everything is tied together in the setting, I don’t have a problem with this, it looks stellar.

You’ll be able to customize and create characters from any of the “meta-human” races, such as orcs and elves and even plain humans. There will be a variety of customization tools and outfits to choose from. Staying true to the concept of the RPG, there will also be various classes to choose from, like Mage, Shaman or Street Samurai. Personally I’ll be holding out for a Technomancer, which I didn’t see mentioned, but I’m sure will be there.

The finished setting designs were assembled in Photoshop, so don’t get too excited about them, but it is easy to see their assets and where it is going. Game design elements have not been completely implemented in the game yet, so where characters will actually stand may not be quite the same in the final product.

At the end of the day all I can say is how impressed I am with where this project has gone. I was not expecting this level of detail and design this early into the development cycle and I think its a testament to the sort of speed and efficiency a group of passionate people who work independently can have. I’ve included a gallery of the images posted below for easy viewing.

Post-PAX Post: Our First In-Game Assets Revealed!

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About Ryan Saul

Hailing from Portland, OR I work by day and blog by night. I like to consider myself a video game connoisseur, playing as many new things as I can get my hands on. Its hard to hold me down to one game for very long before I move on to the next big thing. Luckily, that works pretty well in terms of video game blogging.

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