A huge disappointment. I was really looking forward to this game since it showed up on Kickstarter. Fallout 1 & 2 are among my favorite games ever, and this was touted as a return to that style of RPG. It...isn't.
I find the combat enjoyable. It's basically a simplified version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. One problem with it is that once combat starts, it doesn't end until you move to another map, even if there are no enemies around. So after a fight ends, you'll have to move your party through the map in turn-based mode until you get to an exit.
The story is good by video game standards. You receive a recorded message from an old friend who's been murdered and are tasked with tracking down his killer. For the most part, dialogue is well-written. There's no voice acting, which some may take issue with, but it allows for more robust dialogue. Unfortunately, this game doesn't take advantage of that benefit.
The game is extraordinarily linear. There's exactly one path through the story. A handful of situations where you may be able to get from point A to point B by a slightly different route exist (i.e., bluff your way past a guard vs. hacking through an unguarded door), but these are so few and so insignificant that they don't make any real difference overall. Dialogue is pretty much the same no matter what: Ask about story-related stuff, ask about general backround/setting information. Very little opportunity to employ your character's personality.
Sidequests are almost nonexistent, and the few that the game does have are simple "go over there and get me that thing," or "while you're on this run, see if you can find a thing I want" sorts of things.
The whole game is designed entirely around mobile devices and it suffers for it. The UI is a bit clunky and unintuitive for PC, limited to what would work on a touch-based interface. The save system is simply unacceptable. The game has no manual save option. Not even a save and quit function. It's entirely based on reaching checkpoints. This is supposed to be fixed with the DLC scheduled for January 2014, but until then, if you screw up a fight at the end of a mission? You're replaying the whole mission. Have to leave before you finish a mission? You're replaying the whole mission. As I understand it, this is because the game cannot save the current map state, which explains some of the linearity. When you return to a location, you're actually loading a completely different map of the location with its own triggers, different versions of NPCs with dialogue appropriate to that point in the story, etc. This means that the player can't affect any change in the game as every change or combination of changes to a location would require its own unique map, and I'm not even sure if the game is able to load different versions of the same map based on variables.
I can't really speak to the user-generated content as I haven't used the editor or played any user-made campaigns yet, but from what I've heard from those who have, the editor is very, very limited in what it can do. As a result, a lot of people who were planning on making content for the game have given up.
Maybe the upcoming DLC will improve the editor, maybe (probably) it won't. Either way, I wouldn't suggest paying more than about $5 for Shadowrun Returns.
Posted: November 30th, 2013