First off, this game was not developed by Harebrain Studio, but another developer, Cliffhanger. While not a bad thing in itself, I did expect their own take on the Shadowrun title. After hours of playing Shadowrun Chronicles, it seem the games from each developer share little in common other than the Shadowrun universe. So I make the opinion of if you wanted another Shadowrun Returns/Dragonfall, you should wait for Hongkong otherwise you'e getting a more action oriented Shadowrun with a linear story. It's not exactly worth its price tag right now.
Chronicles is a stripped down version of Shadowrun Returns in almost every aspect. What I can say about the story is that they released the first chapter for the game and I think it is somewhat bare bones. The chapter has set up a pretty good premise with a decent plot revolving around a mysterious infliction and a dragon. Unfortunately I believe it falls flat on developing any good antagonists or story companions at all. What pieces of characterizing is through nodes you click on and read while doing a mission, which seems lazy to me. What I also feel I need to say is that there are no dialogue options at all. There's little to no decision making throughout the game so replay value relies solely on trying out different character play styles.
There is a hub of npcs like Shadowrun Return, which they're placed just as merchants, offer main quests and side quests or adding a small amount of context to the world. Currently, there is one major hub for the game and you don't really travel beyond that. Perhaps we will able to travel to different locations in future content.
What is different is that the game is unlike its predecessor is fully online. Meaning you are playing on server and requires to have an internet connection. It also means that if the server is lagging, there will be time delay in your actions in and out of a mission.
The real divergence is in the skill system. There are no attribute scores like Shadowrun Return of any sort instead skills are packaged into different sections: Mind, Body, Blade, Blunt, Hacking, Rigger, Pistol, Automactic, Shotgun, Spellcasting and Summoning. You invest skill points or Karma into these skill sections. Investing point grant abilities and passives of sorts. There are some synergy between abilties and passives, but not much depth to it. It seems right now there is no cap limit to amount of karma you can earn, but there is no way to get a refund on your karma or respec unfortunately.
I want to mention that there is no matrix combat in this game. Hacking is now apart of other "unlocking" abilites (Organ Harvesting, Picking Locking and Demolition) that allows you to open doors to loot random items while doing a mission. Also there is only right now a very crude character stats page showing only what tier of skills you invested, but no details in what your hit percentage, critical strike, and such.
The combat is where the meat of the game is. It's a turn base strategy game with usually four teammates. These characters can be henchmen of your choosing from a random list of mooks. who are not customizable at all. It can also be someone you can invite a player from either a friend list or out of the chat channels. Unfortunately, there is no quick start or looking for group system in the game making it not so much user friendly for those who are shy or whatnot.
The gameplay itself is often described to be similar to XCOM games where your characters are relatively fragile and getting hit by anything can be lethal or at least very damaging. So the game revolves around getting your character into a good placement to flank or take cover from your enemies. I like mention there is no types of cover in this game such light, medium or heavy cover. It just cover now.
The enemy AI is pretty solid in that they'll try to on the most part get into cover and flank. Also they will try to focus fire, which can be good and bad.
The missions themselves get rather repetitive and bland as you go along. It so far consists mostly eliminating all enemies or defending an area or character with some minor nuances. The same could be said about mission environment as you sometimes play the same map with different objective at times. As for enemies variety is pretty decent in what you fight as you progress with occasional boss fight.
Since this game is considered a "MMO" or Massive Multiplayer Online and with that end game content should be discussed. As of right now, there's literally none. You cannot do anything after finishing the chapter, but you can join other player's story progress to garner more karma. Making end game content into a grind fest of sorts. Cliffhanger have announced they are going to release end game content soon though.
What is missing though, if you have played XCOM or other Shadowrun games, is Overwatch. Overwatch allows you act against any enemy that enter your view range. It is considered to be one of the key elements for this genre that helps your charactes from being rushed by the enemy.
What I wish it had as well is cover/environment destruction like in XCOM. It has little to none of it this game, which was rather disappointing in hindsight. I believe it would made battles more dynamic and more complex than its simple current form.
Bottomline is that there is more work to be done for Shadowrun Chroncicle if it going to be more of an action packed game. In its current state is a very mediocre game that like other co op games gets somewhat better if played with a chummer or a friendly community player. I feel so far I have not gotten my money worth out of the game so I am inclined to not recommend it right now.