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    dkirschner's Shadowrun: Dragonfall (PC)

    [November 26, 2016 03:29:25 PM]
    I didnít know anything about the Shadowrun universe before playing this, only that it was an old tabletop RPG with some video game versions. One look at the box art would label it cyberpunk, but it actually mixes fantasy elements too. Shadowrun has dragons and they do what dragons usually do: hoard stuff, kill people, lust for power. Really Iím rather ignorant about cyberpunk. If it often has dragons and spells and demons, sign me up.

    So this crowdfunded game is an isometric strategy RPG a la Fallout, Baldurís Gate, etc. Itís old-school in many ways and puts me back in the late 90s/early 2000s when I played all the old DnD RPGs. Thereís no voice acting, but there is a ton of reading. I actually substituted this for a novel during the past couple months. Whenever I wanted to read, Iíd play this instead. And the writing is fantastic, in terms of style, character development, quest design, and overall story. That was certainly the best thing about the game.

    Iíll give an example. Early on, you get a mission to head into the sewers beneath the Kreuzbasar (the town/hub) and find out why thereís something wrong with the generators. You discover a bunch of ghouls, which are like sick/infected people who turn to cannibalism, living down there. This being an RPG, you can talk with some of them, and turns out they have a deal with a doctor in town. They keep the generators maintained and the doctor dumps body parts into the sewers for them to eat. The doctor got greedy and started demanding payment, so the ghouls quit maintaining the machinery in protest. So youíve got to work this problem out. You can arrive at a variety of solutions to the problem based on how you decide to interact with the ghouls and the doctor (e.g., kill the ghouls, threaten the ghouls, threaten the doctor, help doctor reduce costs, etc.). This was one of the many surprising quests, and in this case I felt empathy for the plight of the ghouls, and for the whole rest of the game, didnít like the doctor. This was partially character-self-loathing because he sold implants and my shaman character didnít use implants because implants increase cooldown for spells or something bad.

    You have four main story characters on your team (Dietrich, Glory, Eiger, and Blitz), plus a dog you can get, plus several other shadowrunners you can hire on a mission-by-mission basis. Each main character has a meaty backstory that unfolds over time and culminates in a special mission. Gloryís was phenomenal. Sheís gotten tons of cybernetic implants, is distant, cold, and carries a weight on her shoulders. As you press into it, you discover that thereís basically a sinister demon/spirit/thing thatís got a tight hold on her, and she removes pieces of her body for implants to cut it out of her and lessen its influence. Cool. Then you find out how it got there. Long story short, she got lured into a cult with a charismatic leader who drew power from this demon. Charismatic leader started becoming reliant on the demon and losing control himself. Glory, having been party to numerous atrocities with the cult, was able to run, but not able to escape the far-reaching influence of the powerful demon. Your character quest involves returning to the cultís compound and resolving the situation, again in a variety of possible ways.

    I pissed off Dietrich early in the game by not taking him on a mission and he literally refused to talk to me the entire rest of the game in the Kreuzbasar. So needless to say I didnít see his story unfold. Oddly though, he would talk to me during missions like everything was normal; he was only mad in town. I never hired a mercenary; there was no need. My team was pretty well rounded.

    The combat was fine. Not great, not bad, but served its purpose to move the story along. At times, I felt overpowered, and at times I felt that my main character was bad. I unknowingly duplicated Dietrich with my main character; we were both shamans. I spent a lot of time hiding in a corner, casting buffs every so often. Haste is the best spell ever. By the end, I could increase a party memberís AP by 2 for 3 rounds. I always cast this on Eiger, who is a weapons specialist, so she would fire off five rounds from her sniper rifle and often killed 2 enemies on her turn. The Slow spell was useful in a mission where I had to catch a fleeing bad guy. I kept chasing him and running into tons of enemies, then tried to use Slow one time, and I caught him immediately. Ha! If your main character dies, you have three rounds to revive him; otherwise, itís game over. So keeping him alive was a priority, and I had to start pumping upgrade points into health so that he would quit getting two-shot. Blitz wasnít terribly useful in combat, but Glory was. She is a close combat specialist and had several moves with stun effects. So Iíd run her around the battle stunning enemies while everyone else focused on killing the others.

    There is a special type of combat that occurs in the matrix. If you have a decker, he can ďjack inĒ to the virtual world and hack security cameras, steal pay data, and all sorts of fun stuff. But the combat in here was really boring, and Iíd avoid jacking in if I didnít need to hack a door open or something. You can only send a decker in, so Blitz just goes in by himself and fights essentially the same type of enemy over and over every time.

    I actually stopped playing in part because of the matrixÖand in part because there was a stupid wave levelÖand in part because the game froze on a save and I lost a couple hours of progress on said wave level that I didnít want to do over. In this mission, you are either freeing/killing an AI, so of course you have to jack in. While you are jacked in, you can activate one (at a time) of two sets of security turrets. Back in meatspace, waves and waves of enemies pour in while you try to defend the mainframe as it runs its freeing/killing sequence. So you have to manage your squad defense while running back and forth activating turrets in the matrix. Itís far less exciting than it sounds. Anyway, I manually saved when I was near the end, and it locked up. When I restarted the game, all the save games going back about two hours had wiped. Awesome.

    I finished watching on YouTube (which turned out to be like 2 more hours of reading, wow). I was getting tired of playing the game anyway. Like I said, story = great; combat = mediocre.

    There were some other annoying design issues. One was with the inventory system. Before each mission, you choose the loadout for each character. During missions, you find items, but you canít trade items with teammates. Only the main character can pick them up. If he canít use them, he can send them back to base, but canít give them to a teammate. Why?!? In some runs, there will be like 10 items to pick up. They all just go straight to your stash. Even in the final mission there is tons of stuff to pick up, but like, you can hold 5 things only, and itís the last mission of the game, so youíll never see your stash again, so almost all of those items are wasted.

    The other issue is that you canít use your teammates to do things like hack doors or use a skill or talk to an NPC (outside of combat). You can only use your main character. So like, the other characters have their various statistics and abilities, and I have a decker right next to me. Why canít I use them!? It seems like if anything, you should be able to do it out of combat, but not in! And if you can select other teammates to use their abilities in combat, why canít you choose to trade with them in combat? Doesnít make any sense.

    Overall though, enjoyed playing Shadowrun: Dragonfall. I donít think Iíll play Hong Kong or any others until they fix some of these issues and make the combat more fun. Iíd love another great story and romp through this universe, so I hope these systems do continue to get updated.
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    Status

    dkirschner's Shadowrun: Dragonfall (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Friday 23 September, 2016

    GameLog closed on: Friday 25 November, 2016

    Opinion
    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Slick sci-fi hacker world. Really looking forward to exploring this game. ---------- Outstanding story and world, great characters, mediocre combat.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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