Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut is the follow up to Harebrained Schemes Shadowrun Returns, the oldschool RPG game based on the paper Shadowrun RPG. Shadowrun Returns was the subject of a phenomenally popular Kickstarter campaign. A campaign which was so popular it lead to the creation of Dragonfall as an expansion campaign.
One of the things that’s always made Shadowrun so appealing is the world the game is set in. The year is 2054 and due to an event referred to as ‘The Awakening’ there has been a resurgence of magic. Long dormant creatures have awoken and other races have appeared with Dwarves,Elves,Orcs, andTrolls referred to as ‘metahumans’ living alongside man. Technology and magic collide, with mega corporations vying for more control and influence and trampling over those beneath them.
You play the part of a shadowrunner, a mercenary living in the shadows of this new world taking on jobs from anyone who will pay. When the powerful or the desperate need a job done, you get it done… by any means necessary.
The world of Shadowrun mashes up fantasy and cyberpunk to impressive effect. Mages that are just as likely blow your head off with a pistol as throw a fireball at you, Deckers Shadowrun’s hackers who specialise in tech, hacking computers and jacking into The Matrix where they wreak havok and battle Intruder Countermeasure “IC” programmes in the digital world, Riggers who utilise drones for scouting and combat and can control machines, Shaman who utilise fetishes to summon spirits, Street Samurai who utilise cybernetics, firearms and melee weapons while Physical Adepts use magic to boost their impressive close combat skills to survive on the mean streets of 2054.
These classes or “archetypes” are loose though and you can develop your character however you want by accumulating karma points to learn various new skills.
The world of Dragonfall in presented in a lush painted 2D isometric view, with characters each having portraits that pop up when engaged in dialogue. The game also features an excellent atmospheric and pulsating synth soundtrack. Combat is turn based and utilising your party’s action points well and understanding tactics is the key to victory.
The team at Harebrained Schemes have tweaked the few problems which fans pointed out in the first game, like being able to save the game at any point. One of the biggest appeals of the stand alone Dragonfall ,besides the setting of Shadowrun itself, is the characters that make up your party. Whilst Shadowrun Returns featured NPC’s like Jake Armitage, the character featured in the fondly remembered SNES game, the characters were generally not that memorable.
This time around your party is made up of memorable and distinct characters, Dietrich a veteran elf Shaman , Glory a stoic human cyborg with a mysterious past who is lethal up close in a fight, Eiger a taciturn troll weapons specialist whose respect has to be earned and Blitz a decker that joins your crew after being emancipated from a rather unpleasant gang.
They will often give opinions or make recommendations before and during missions or “runs”. Talking to them between runs will glean further information about their backgrounds which adds more to the rich tapestry of the setting. These characters become such a core part of the game that even though you can hire other runners to join you on runs you find yourself just sticking with the default team.
The core party members also gain skills as you progress.
Whilst the game has a linear campaign story there are numerous side quests you can take and these are often filled with the kind of moral ambiguity that Shadowrun is steeped in. Will you do anything for Nuyen or do you have a moral code?
Dragonfall’s text based dialogue and story becomes utterly engrossing as the narrative progresses. A sort of interactive novel of the best kind. One of the really surprising aspects of the game is how incredibly easy to play it is, with a slick interface and easy to navigate menus players don’t even need to touch the keyboard to play the game. This makes it ideal for anyone that might not usually play games on their laptop but might want to check it out due to being a Shadowrun fan.
Harebrained Schemes have also mentioned they are planning on a new Kickstarter for a further campaign in 2015.
Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Directors Cut is available from Steam just go here