8.5

The dystopian atmosphere grows on you, but it leaves you hanging, begging for more.

I can always appreciate a game that functions as something more than entertainment. Shadowrun Returns is a critique of the status quo, a prophecy of what will come if we remain in a state of ignorant bliss. It's set in a dystopic future where the corporate state has infiltrated every aspect of life and disenfranchised the the mass of the proletariat of any sense of life's value. They now gather in the peripheries of society, rummaging through garbage and selling petty wares on the street corners. A brothel now functions as the community center.

The rustic 2-D graphics illustrates the horror of their lives. The billowing steam, the battle-worn warriors of the garbage strewn alley ways. It reminds me of Blade Runner. The music is a suspenseful electronic beat, reflecting the terror and uncertainty of life in the situation.

But, by far, the most effective execution in the game is the story-line portrayed through the dialogue. Given the simplicity of the game, it relied heavily on text-based interactions. The dialogue didn't miss a beat and flowed much like any regular conversation. Except that about forty into the future language has clearly divided into two distinct classes: the profane, vulgar dialect used by the common street rabble and the sophisticated, intelligent dialect common to the upper classes.

All-together the environment this game creates submerges one into a world of constant action and suspense. It's a rewarding yet challenging game.

The one issue I have is that it ends far too soon and that the items are insufficient. But that will change upon the release of the Berlin DLC and through any mod that we can create.

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