Shadowrun Returns in Video Game Form
The club is packed, the air thick with the smells of sweat and biz
The burly Ork shoulders his way through the late night crowd, shoving past breeders and boppers alike, not even trying to look casual. He thumps down on the other side of your table, and for a moment you think the chair beneath him will give way. “It’s time to dig out the kevlar-lined trenchoat, dust off the mirrorshades and hit the shadows, chummer. Mr Johnson just called, looking for a tight team to run a garbage detail. I’ve got a squeaky decker lined up to run interference for us. You game?”
For a moment, you’re ready to tell him to buzz, but there’s something in his eyes, a look you’ve not seen in a long time. You get the old feeling, the tingle in your palms and you realize your mouth is watering. You lean forward. “Where?” you ask.
He grins, “Right here.”
So, if none of that made any sense to you, then not only did you miss out on one of the coolest RPG franchises of the 90s, but you may not be as ridiculously excited as I am over the news that Shadowrun is coming back.
Shadowrun? Never heard of it
Let me explain. Imagine the year is 1989. William Gibson’s cyberpunk classic Neuromancer has been out for 4 years, and the cyberpunk genre has exploded. Geeks of a certain age dream daily and nightly of techno-fetishist femme fatales, Sam Spade with cybernetic implants and the neon purity of infinite virtual cyberspace. There are numerous homebrew and dedicated cyberpunk RPG systems, some excellent, others less so. Along comes Jordan Weisman at FASA Corporation (of Battletech fame) with the bright idea of merging a cool cyberpunk future with magic and fantasy races. Orks and elves, fireballs and magic missiles alongside wetwired cyborg assassins and amped up cyber pirates.
What sounds like a disaster somehow turns into one of the coolest, most enduring pen and paper RPGs that I and many other gamers have ever played. And now it’s coming back in video game form.
Jordan Weisman and his company Harebrained Schemes recently posted an entry on the Kickstarter website, announcing their plans to develop Shadowrun Returns as a “graphically rich 2D turn-based single player game with deep story interaction, meaningful character development, and highly-contextual tactical combat” for PC, and iOS and Android tablets. Their initial pitch was for $400,000 dollars. That amount was reached in 28 hours, with the total amount of pledges sitting at $863,2821 at time of writing.
The game will play out in an isometric-style viewpoint, with players exploring and fighting in a future Seattle. That could change however. With 18 days left on the clock, Harebrained Schemes hope to include a new city setting, chosen by the backers, if the project hits the $1,000,000 mark. While a basic mission editor is already planned to be included with the game, hitting the seven-figure mark will also allow the developers to flesh out and improve it.
I’m going to post the most recent update video for the project, in which Jordan Weisman answers some of the questions that have already arisen about the project, and explains some of the things that won’t be in the game. His enthusiasm for the project shines through, and says more about it than I can here.
Stay safe, chummer and remember; shoot straight, conserve ammo and never cut a deal with a dragon.
Follow Craig’s intermittent tweets, @d20shapedheart