Another "I rather enjoyed this, but it's also deeply flawed, so how do I rate it?"
- I found it fun (or at least addictive) despite of all the below (except for the times when I was really annoyed at the braindead UI, bored by the repetitive maps or by playing the blue challenge for the 50th time, etc.).
Apparently, the developers filed for whatever the Austrian equivalent of a Chapter 11 is, and it shows. A lot of the time, the game feels half finished, or at least severely lacking polish:
- Skill descriptions are vague, and you can't reset your build, so your first character is essentially a crapshot.
- Apparently, characters are also only saved server-side (and you only have three slots), so you can't fix a bad decision by restoring a backup. That's just never acceptable in the age of near infinite local storage.
- There isn't a run where someone doesn't curse the UI, usually that thing where you set up and action, then somebody else moves, and your action type resets. If that's the exact moment you're clicking as well, be prepared to execute the worst possible move.
This is the first turn-based game I've played, and even I could think of better ways to handle this -- do NOT reset turn, just blink the moving party's icon for 2 seconds while greying out everybody else's and not accepting input, for example. Also, you really need to turn off the action camera, otherwise you'll just never get a decent turn in edgewise. Also not fond of the game scrolling the map to show you something while you're trying to look at something else. There must be a better way to do that -- picture in picture, map overlay/radar with new spawns giving a brighter ping, SOMETHING.
- Half the lines are voiced (usually very, very badly), the other half are just click-through text. It'd be nice if you could turn off the click-requiring in-mission narration at least.
- The writing's really not that good. It's that of an OK round of pen & paper where the GM does alright, but doesn't have their finest hour, but it's not the effort you'd put in when you expect thousands of people to engage with the story. If this were single player, this would absolutely kill the game; in co-op, where the team experience is more important, and people often miss intricacies of mood and story over coordinating, it can just about be pulled off.
- The NPCs are OK, but again nothing like in, say, Shadowrun Returns, where they actually make you feel sad that a character they introduced only 5 minutes ago is dead.
- The maps are OK, if rarely super exciting, but you keep playing the same ones (e.g. there's a container yard or a stretch of sewers you keep going back to again and again -- you start in different positions and encounter different mobs, but this is still a bit meh for the price point the game was sold at). Unsurprisingly, the maps I remember favorably are the ones that only appear once -- the showdown, the one where you have to get to an exec's top floor office in time to save him, and a short sequence of maps in Act 3 where you infiltrate the evil corporation's facility from the sewers, including The Bridge.
- There is a friend list, but no friend chat, where you can actually ask people in private if they want to play and what, or, you know, just chat.
- The turn indicator uses drawn rather than rendered character portraits, so they rarely match the actual avatars and, worse, often repeat within the same team, making them needlessly unhelpful. (A lot of the time, the art isn't even particularly appealing, making this decision even more puzzling.)
- Kickstarter backers got a special mark -- bragging rights, awesome --, but the Deluxe packs include "zero essence cyberware." That's probably just some small thing, but why give the bad taste of pay to win for a small thing's sake?
- All around lack of Quality Control. Did they really just get an Achievement description wrong? Also, is there a reason some of those achievements don't even work?
- After completing the story and side missions, you can do the Blue Challenge (the Red Challenge hasn't been added at the time of this writing) over and over, but you can't restart any of the other missions, do new game plus, anything like that. You can make a new character (but remember, you've only got three slots!), or you can be invited by a player who hasn't completed all missions, but remember, you'll be doing the same maps that already are repeated WITHIN a regular play-through AGAIN. It gets a bit bland.
- So, the Blue Challenge. It's kinda fun as a team sport, but especially the first wave of three is extremely formalized and samey, but can't be skipped. At the same time, one false move especially in wave 3 can get the entire team killed, so a good number of players are hostile to running with first-timers. You also get special loot that you can't get anywhere else. Some of it is actually good in numeric terms, but a lot of it is bragging rights stuff (clothes, or weapons that are slightly different from their regular variants, but not really superior to them). Combined with the fact that they'll happily give you loot you've already got or loot that doesn't match your skillset (magic focus for a character with 0 essence, say), and the fact that YOU CAN'T TRADE ITEMS, be prepared to repeat the challenge many dozen a time if you're looking for a specific item. Yes, I'm aware that some other games do the same thing, but that just means they also employ lazy mechanics to generate play-time. Which, you know, isn't the same as actual enjoyment.
- The runs are almost exclusively, go out, kill things. I'm not necessarily complaining; detective bits for instance are harder to make replayable, or make work in co-op (especially for teams where some know and some don't), I'm just giving you a heads-up for your decision. :) On the upside, this game has the least annoying escort missions I've seen in any game. (Also, as turn-based goes, I'm told that this is somewhat simplistic in its options. My home team mate who knows much more about turn based than I do never really got into this game, and has yet to take the challenge.)
All in all, it's a deeply flawed gem, all of which could be fixed in one fell swoop by releasing dev tools to the community -- to the extent that that's even possible for their centralized model. Steam Workshop SR:C? Hell yeah! More map variety? Check. Writing on par with main game? Most likely. Mods with no or bad voice work? Will blend right in. I'm not even being sarcastic; I think dev tools would really save the value proposition of this game and engage the community, while the downsizing company presumably will have to cut back on content creation.
Until such a time as that happens, if ever,
- don't buy at full price
- be aware that the product is somewhat limited and basic in every way, from the unrefined UI to repeating maps.
I've enjoyed the game, and I expect to meet the Red Challenge when it comes out, but with such a lot of caveats needed, I can't in good faith give an unqualified Thumbs Up (but then that whole tumbs thing is stupid, anyway -- give us 1..10 or something like that, Valve!).