A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Shadowrun Returns is an unrated turn-based strategy role-playing game with mature themes and some bloody violence. It is available for download through Steam and unrated by the ESRB as yet; but its predecessor, Shadowrun, was rated M for Mature. Profanity is light but frequent. Sexuality is suggested in some scenes by dint of location (a bawdy nightclub in which several characters can be seen drinking alcohol), some female characters' skimpy clothing, and dialogue with faint but unmistakable innuendo. Only about half of the game involves combat, but these scenarios involve both guns and bladed weapons and wounded characters bleed red. Given the mature content, this game is best suited for older teens and above.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
The result of one of the most successful crowd-funded game development campaigns yet, SHADOWRUN RETURNS is a mature strategy role-playing game set in a dark future in which the world is inhabited not only by humans but also trolls, elves, and dwarves. Players take on the role of an underground freelancer investigating the death of a friend. About half of the game is spent exploring the game's richly realized world and chatting with non-player characters in an attempt to dig up clues or complete side-missions. The other half of the game is spent in combat, where the player takes turns moving his or her character(s) around a grid and attacking enemies with guns, melee weapons, and even magic. Everything is presented from an overhead, isometric perspective, with players using naught but a mouse to control most of the action.
Is it any good?
It's clear that the team of indie game makers who built Shadowrun Returns put a lot of love and effort into this game. The futuristic world is loaded with bits of detail, and the many-branched dialogue trees are bursting with interesting conversations and ideas. Time spent exploring and investigating is rarely dull, thanks to no shortage of objects to investigate and interesting characters to chat with. That players get to mold their character as they like through the decisions they make is the sugar on top.
The combat doesn't quite live up to the conversations, but it's still pretty fun. Battles tend to be a little too short and easy, especially at the start, but as the game progresses and players earn more abilities and additional gear and weapons it slowly grows more sophisticated and satisfying. It's not quite up to the lofty standard set last fall by XCOM: Enemy Unknown, but Shadowrun Returns is nonetheless multifaceted and enjoyable little game of role-playing and turn-based tactics.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about developing a character. Do you tend to make dialogue selections that give your character a heroic personality, or do you like to explore your dark side and make him or her seem more villainous? What are your reasons?
Families can also discuss the depiction of women in games. Do you think games set in the future do women a disservice by presenting them in the same degrading roles -- such as sex trade workers -- some women have historically occupied? Should writers of speculative fiction pay greater heed to the growth and evolution of women's rights, or ought they have free license to create whatever sort of world they care to imagine?
- Platforms: Mac, Windows
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading, reading comprehension
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, applying information, logic, strategy
- Price: $19.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Hairbrained Schemes
- Release date: July 25, 2013
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- ESRB rating: NR
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.