Shadowrun: Hong Kong is a RPG released in August 2015. It is a game with turn based tactical battle system. This is the third game in the new cyberpunk Shadowrun series since Shadowrun Returns was kickstarted back in 2013, which was followed by Shadowrun: Dragonfall in 2014. The game is developed by Harebrained Schemes, founded by Jordan Weisman, one of the original designers of the tabletop RPG Shadowrun.
Shadowrun: Hong Kong is set in cyberpunk Hong Kong, where the main character’s adopted father Raymond Black has called him and his foster brother Duncan Wu there urgently. Upon arrival, the main character is faced with danger after danger and finds that Raymond may already be dead. Together with Duncan, and two shadowrunners – Gobbet and Is0bel, they work for Triad boss Kindly Cheng in exchange for harboring them and helping them find clues about Raymond and the meaning behind his mysterious last word – Prosperity.
Shadowrun: Hong Kong’s gameplay is an improvement over the previous two entries, feeling more fast paced than before, despite being a tactical RPG, where one of the main clutch is long, overdrawn fights. A handful of battles aside, most fights can be resolved rather quickly, especially if the right team and equipment are used. Even the longer battles don’t feel like a drag to play, allowing you to fully utilize the battlefield and your items.
The mood and tone of the game is excellent. Flashing neon signs amidst the grungy, dark roads of Hong Kong really brings the cyberpunk setting of the Shadowrun universe to live. Not to mention that one of the general themes of cyberpunk, the general populace getting screwed over by megacorporations, is present throughout the game and is in fact plays a role in the main plot.
Individual quest designs stands out a lot, in my opinion, when compared to the previous games. Unique objectives, such as stealing 10,000 nguyen worth of relics or going to a tech fair to find a decker makes each venture out into Hong Kong feel unique and fresh.
While individual quest design stood out, I felt that the overall story was pretty poor. There was a lack of cohesion from start to end, with more quests focused on paying Kindly Cheng her dues rather than advancing the story directly. Although the story does pick up towards the end of the game, it still wasn’t as good as Dragonfall’s was.
The Matrix is bad as ever, and there are a few instances where there is no other choice but to enter the Matrix. I still think that the Matrix is the worst part of the game, isolating one of your characters and sending him or her into the Matrix to fend for themselves while the rest of the party tries to protect the decker’s physical body is an interesting concept, but the way the battles in the Matrix plays out usually means an longer battle, and frankly, the battles in the Matrix lacked the depth that the normal battle has.
I’m not entirely sure where I stand on the playable characters and their stories. On one hand, the party in Hong Kong feels much more diverse, whereas the playable characters in Dragonfall were all shadowrunners. Certain characters do stand out more than others, especially since a number of them are totally missable. As for their side quests, I felt it added depth to the characters and provided a decent backstory for them. Some of them were fun to play through, like Is0bel’s and Gobbet’s, while others were entirely unmemorable.
As far as this series of Shadowrun games are concerned, Hong Kong is head and shoulders better than Returns, but I still think that Dragonfall is the best of the bunch. I don’t think we’ll be seeing much of Shadowrun this year, as Harebrained Scheme seems to be working on another series.
A tactical RPG with a great battle system, solid characters and decent story that is a must play for classical cRPG fans.