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Shadowrun Returns brings back one of our most original & cherished game settings as a 2D turn-based RPG for tablets & PC.
Shadowrun Returns brings back one of our most original & cherished game settings as a 2D turn-based RPG for tablets & PC.
36,276 backers pledged $1,836,447 to help bring this project to life.

Shadowrun Returns First Look

Posted by Harebrained Schemes LLC (Creator)

Okay, the wait is over! Here’s what we’ve been up to for the last nine or ten months. 

The Harebrained team is pleased to bring you this alpha gameplay walkthrough video for Shadowrun Returns narrated by Jordan and Mitch. While no Bothans died to bring you this information, it’s been a wild ride to get to this point and there’s still plenty to do. But let’s not talk about the future for a moment. Let’s just take 20 minutes or so to relax and see the game in action. 

Since our story is about secrets and lies, we decided that our video should walk you through a side-mission so you can get a clear sense of how the game is played without revealing any spoilers. In this mission, you’ve accepted a job from a reliable Fixer (who’s totally fronting for Aztechnology) to locate a rival corporate test lab and terminate the test (with extreme prejudice). 

Remember as you watch the video that all the environments, conversations, and tactical situations you see were created using the Shadowrun Returns Editor - the same editor that will ship with the game on OSX and Windows. For us, re-energizing Shadowrun doesn’t just mean making a game for you to play and enjoy (although that sounds GREAT). It means creating a set of tools for YOU to experiment with, express yourself with, and share. 

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(Click for Fullsize)

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We imagine that you’ll have plenty of questions and comments about what you see and we encourage you to go to and join the community here . We’re on regularly, answering questions and clarifying stuff. It’s a friendly place. Try it! 

And one more thing - If you like what you see, please share the video and screenshots and ask your friends to share them too! 



(Click for Fullsize)

For those interested in additional details, here are some specific notes on the video. Hopefully, they’ll provide more insight and answer some of your questions in advance.

00:20 - Lady Z prefers to dress-for-effect (dig that gas-mask - so punk) but there will be a variety of outfits for you to choose from so you can make your character look the way you want. We plan to release more outfits after the game launches.

00:39 - For those of you who know Seattle, this is Pike Place Public Market in 2054. The neighborhood may have taken a downturn. 

03:30 options: Burst Fire, Full Auto etc. We also have character combat abilities like Aim. We also use the tabletop "stages" of damage with from Weak (1/2) to Crit (x2). All of this is based on the math from the SR tabletop game. You can see your chance to hit with every character but you need to invest Karma in weapon specializations to see your chance to crit with each weapon type. As your weapon specialization skill increases, so does your chance to crit. 

05:00 - Note that Lady Z’s corp security etiquette skill is missing from her character sheet. The screen underwent a recent revision and it was left off of this version temporarily. Also, Scooter the Rigger’s drone skills are currently higher than his Intelligence and the Shaman’s spirit control and conjuring skills are higher than his Charisma. Not to worry. These bugs are already addressed.

06:00 - Obviously, Lady Z could just whip out an Ares Predator and drill this guard but guns make a lot of noise and Jordan doesn’t want to attract too much attention - our AI NPCs will react to gunfire and investigate. So instead, he whips out Lady Z’s katana for a (relatively) silent kill. One other note - you’ll see that the guard asks Lady Z for her SIN. Just want to make it clear that there’s no “SIN system” in the game and runners are SINless. But fake credentials are very useful in getting past guards, etc. 

06:10 - You’ll notice the rigger is automatically being followed by his drone. If you check the rigger UI at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see that you can set the drone to remain stationary. That’s handy if you want to leave the drone behind to provide line-of-sight on a location after you leave (so there are no surprises when you get back). 

08:08 - Inside the shaman’s backpack are magical fetishes that he uses for summoning elementals: air, fire, water, and earth. Fetishes are consumable to keep the shaman from being overpowered. They can be replenished by purchasing more at the local talismonger. 

08:22 - Every turn, summoned spirits have a chance to break free and that chance increases every time you commit APs for them to use. However, increasing your Spirit Control skill reduces the risk. It’s a good investment because when a spirit breaks free, they’ll attack anybody.

09:37 - Yup, the AI loves it when you clump up your characters. If they have an equipped grenade or area-of-effect spell, this will happen to you too. 

10:14 - Some spells have cool-down times associated with them and you SHOULD wait for that time to expire before using the spell again. However, you CAN use the spell again but you’ll take Drain HP damage from pushing yourself. 

15:18 - Ley lines are the intersections of magical energy flowing through the world. Only Mages can see them. When they stand on a ley line, Mages cast spells far more easily and with greater effect: cool down times are reduced, and chances to hit are increased, as is damage. 

16:17 - Shaman don’t always need to expend fetishes for summoning spirits. Intense concentrations of emotions or natural elements can be used as gateways for summoning as well. Only shaman can see them. Once a concentration has been used as a gateway, it can’t be used again (until the shaman raises his summoning skill high enough), so best to keep a magical fetish in your pocket. 

17:27 - The AI re-evaluates their threat list every turn. The basilisk decided that the abomination spirit is the biggest threat in the room.


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    1. Rafael Lopes Vivian on

      Oh fuck, this is looking extremely sharp and awesome. Artwork, combat, interaction and music is top quality.

    2. Missing avatar

      Tobias Loehr on

      So I finally had some free time to sit down and watch the demo.
      There really is only one appropriate response for this:

    3. Zigballistic on

      You know, the first thing I thought after watching this is that this is exactly what I have been waiting for in a Dungeon and Dragons game for like 20 years. Turn based combat, text multi path dialogue, and a CRPG where a variety in skills matter in a top down isometric format. Can you guys seriously like do a seminar for WOTC and show them how it's done, please?

    4. Robert J Uccello Jr

      Late to the comment party, but you guys have really made me proud to have helped make this happen. The graphical presentation is great, the backgrounds are beautiful and the characters looks really detailed. The conversation boxes seemed a little content-light, but that is expected in an Alpha look. Amazing work so far, I can't wait for the full game!

    5. Missing avatar

      Joseph Gorndt on

      It looks like "alpha" doesn't mean what I thought it did. This looks great! I really hope that you stick with the idea that there should be options for how to get through each challenge.

      Also, I'm sure you read that article about the guy who was unhappy with how a Kickstarter he invested in worked out. I really, really hope you ignore pretty much everything he said. Keep the updates coming!

    6. Willem on

      Well what can I say, looks amazing! Loved what I saw (especially the diverse array of options available, i.e. a true RPG). Loved the look and UI seems very functional and minimalistic. I see some concerns over no inventory management, yet I noticed that inventory management, stats, etc. are all part of the same UI frame (inventory I would assume is under the "Items" tab); I personally like that (assuming my impression is correct of course). Overall incredibly impressed HB Schemes, keep up the good work.

    7. Doug K

      Very excited about this game right now. Can't wait to see an actual challenge though. :3

      To anyone that thinks this run was easy: I'm pretty sure that was the idea. Show off combat, not get slaughtered.

      @Igor Muller
      Wasteland 2 received $1 million more than Shadowrun: Returns. I 'unno about you, but I'm pretty sure that $1mil goes a long, long way.

    8. Nevermind on

      Nice work so far.

      May I beg® you again for a scaleable text size, so those near-blinds with high resolution may still be able to read the dialogs smoothly without bending over the table? That would be awesome.

      (another) Sebastian

    9. RC on

      Hoi Sebastian!

      Bwahaha "DREK!! And I would have gotten away with It too, if it hadn't been for those meddling Shadowrunners, and their drone!" (LOVED the Shadowrun atmosphere in the video!) ^_^

      Ja Mata!

      -RC (...or what's left of me...)

    10. Missing avatar

      Sebastian on

      Kickin ass.

    11. Michaeljack on

      @Igor Muller

      I really dont think its fair to compare Shadowrun with Wasteland 2, W2 has a large budget, both initially and at the end of the Kickstarter. Sure i have an issue with the lack of Inventory but i wouldnt call that demo in any way Dull, it got me pumped for sure.

    12. Patricia on

      Wow! I think this is looking great!
      Super excited HBS!!! Well done!

    13. Igor Muller on

      I would say, comparing this to Wasteland 2 gameplay trailer, the game that was funded almost at the same time and almost with the same amount of money, this looks a bit... dull. And mind you i didnt support Wasteland and did support this.

    14. Strobo on

      Otherwise looks awesome!

    15. Strobo on

      I hope you'll fix the character postures while they are speaking to each other or just hanging around alone. It looks like they are in combat mode all the time and It looks abnormal.

    16. Michaeljack on

      I agree with your points and additionally all loot on the ground could be handled with a single graphic: a small loot pile, a bag, even a plain grey dome. Considering this game beat its funding goals quite convincingly, pleasing poverty as am excuse for no loot seems a mite suspicious to me

    17. Michaeljack on

      Sad to say but if I can't buy new equipment, get better weapons/armor etc then I feel a lot of fun will be lost. A large part of the enjoyment of tactical games is different. Loadouts for different situations. I just hope the other customization options are sufficiently robust

    18. Valeriy on

      @Dean Mathison
      There are different inventory systems. Not all of them are requiring all that stuff you listed. There can be list-based system (like how it is done in almost every console game), Graphics can be absent (not shown on the model and in the inventory list). Databases are cheap, really. This never stopped any game developer from implementing inventory. In some cases it can be just plain text array with pointers.
      As for item placement... :-)))) Do me a favor. It's a job for a location designer (and not harder then placement of additional piece of decoration).
      So... I can not see any "disproportion" in effort/result you are refering to.

    19. Dean Mathison on

      SEBO & Sergio: Off the top of my head, as someone in IT with only a passing understanding of coding, but with some understanding of relational databases, an inventory system involves:

      * Icons and graphic art for every item you can pick up. And art for the inventory itself.

      * A database containing every item in the game that could be picked up, along with details of things like how many inventory slots each item takes up, size (4x4, 2x6, etc).

      * Adding programming to a whole bunch of items in the editor to give them the ability to be attached to an 'inventory' so items can be placed there for characters.

      * Additional programming so details of the character's full current inventory can be added to character saves.

      * Either every item in every inventory for every adventure would need to be custom-placed, or a random-generation script would need to be written to place items into every inventory. And that script would then need to take into account things like character level, and a whole bunch of other factors.

      Now, none of that is insurmountable, given time, staff and a big enough budget. And I presume a simplified version will be present to track things like armor, weapons, etc. But for a game like this, with a relatively small budget, a set release date, and produced by a limited number of people? Every additional item they put into the world that can be collected is a disproportionate adding of time and effort.

      To be honest, for what I saw i'm seriously impressed by how much they have been able to deliver in the time and for the money. Go and get everyone you know to buy the game when it comes out so it does really well and Harebrained will have the money to put in to make it better..

    20. Valeriy on

      There will definetely be equipment (weapons, armour, maybe clips/magazines - ammo is limited as you can see in the video). And stores. (See for details). There are fetishes (which, I suppose, a part of inventory), who knows, maybe there will be med kits (Biotech skill is present). Other than that I don't know what do you mean under "NO INVENTORY".

    21. Missing avatar

      SEBO on

      No...invenory??? What is happening here? Is this a turn based shooter???

    22. Missing avatar

      Sergio on

      People.. it's not 'corpse looting' what they're not implementing. It's looting, full stop. Because there's NO INVENTORY.

      I'm trying right now to come up with a single other decent CRPG where you can't find useful items or weapons or cash or ANYTHING anywhere in the gameworld.


    23. Jeff Haskell on

      Your up to your neck in drek. Basilisks, mages, corporate security are all gunning for you. But oh yeah, I am gonna take 5 minutes to loot this guard, and stuff his AR and extra pistol in my pants. Looting is great in a fantasy setting, but really come on. Your not going to stop and loot corpses when people are shooting at you. Not to mention, there is very little cash in the game (all credsticks) and odds are the guns are going to have bio-metric security, and gps tracking in them. Your money comes from doing the job, not from looting random security guards in a hot zone.

    24. Jenocyber on

      Looks great so far, hope characters have speech in the final game.

    25. Torment- The Enduring Exile on

      @ MichaelJack No it's real:

      They're not implementing corpse looting... big mistake in my opinion. When you drop an enemy you should be able to loot their body.

    26. Missing avatar

      SEBO on

      @ Michaeljack:

      "Corpse looting involves a loot system and associated systems that interact with it. As much as we wanted one and designed one, we don't have the funding to implement it in this version of the game"

    27. Valeriy on

      @HunterZ: You are right. Corpses dropped somewhere between 10 and 100¥ and even in a run against Renraku you was able to find ~ 4 such occasions (maybe less, if you were skilled and lucky enough to not trigger alarm). Their pistols selled for ~ 290¥ and med kits for 190¥ (considering you had max negotiation). And of course there were safes with grenades and money. Your party was 3 runners, each had ~ (3 - 4) vacant slots. Here is the math: 350 (money drop) + 250 * 12 (item loot) = 3350¥ for a (un)lucky run against Renraku (mission award ~ 4200¥). And that is considering you did a mass slaughter in the building or emptied every safe you could find risking to fail your mission (I personally didn't bother).
      If we are talking about money harvesting in Mega Drive Shadowrun, Data Stores in the Matrix come to mind first. But that is another story. And I prefer not to remember about money grinding in SNES Shadowrun.

    28. Ryan

      Hey next time you guys do this can you livestream?

    29. Missing avatar

      HunterZ on

      @Valery: I don't know what you're talking about in regards to looting on the Genesis / Mega Drive Shadowrun game. Corpses frequently dropped nuyen, guns or first aid kits.

    30. Michaeljack on

      Is this "no looting due to insufficient funds" a joke or is it really on the forums? Because I can't find it.

    31. Andrew Smith on

      I love what I see here and am glad I backed it. Though there's a couple things that came to mind while watching. I would like to see the models move a bit faster, they seem to take their time. Shadowrunners are fast agile BAMFs and should really be hauling ass from point to point, also maybe have a bit of Parkour over tables. Another thing I noticed was the models didn't look they were taking cover, more just crouched behind it. I know it's an alpha, but I still like what I see, keep it up guys!

      In addition, persistent bodies and some environmental/residual damage (such as blood splatter) would be amazing polish. That way when you're headed back out of the level, you can remember all the people you had to wade through to get to. Though that's polish, tasty tasty polish.

    32. Jeremiah Daniels on

      You guys are amazing, I love everything I see! I am so excited!

    33. Valeriy on

      Regarding 1): Well, I suppose one or two secret (unmarked) stashes on the location (bonus points if they require stat check) won't hurt. And occasional weapon or armour drop from an enemy (like how if was made in Mega Drive game) will be nice if PC will not be able to harvest ALL what is not nailed down to the floor (again, Mega Drive game comes to mind). But it must remain only a side bonus and not a main source of money. In the Mega Drive game you had to slay 12 grunts to gain 1 karma point and whole loot from a corporate building was worth approximately 1000¥ max (I wonder who invented this idea that Japan will take over the world??? Blade Runner, maybe?) while mission karma was 3-4 and mission payment was more than twice as large.
      Regarding 2): Sorry, I misunderstood. My bad :-). I just didn't see neither map nor *quest* markers in the video. There were only white thingies indicating interactive objects. And I believe, that one marker indicating entrance to the lab appeared only after PC asked Homeless Man about the lab (after fight). So exploration is still mandatory. I personally not against a map (if you can buy a tourist map from a street vendor), but I agree - flashing and spinning markers on the map accompanied with a compass and a shining route thread on the ground are over the top.

    34. Dennis Gutknecht on

      lol, "super" pumped even. Wish we could edit comments! :P

    35. Dennis Gutknecht on

      @Valery, I gotta disagree about the looting a little. I'd rather see a restrictive inventory system with persistent corpses and realistic loot than vanishing corpses and no loot. I agree with you on your points 2-4, however. Tho I wouldn't be shocked if some sort of map system ended up in the game eventually. And I'm also glad to see I wasn't the only one that was bugged a little by so many NPC's being in a default combat stance, even the folks waiting for a bus.

      But with all of that said, I was still supper pumped by this video, and I so can't wait for this game to release! I really think they did a great job of capturing the feel of the world and of the old PnP game! Just loving it!

    36. Missing avatar

      Sergio on

      1)I couldn't care less about looting corpses. But no looting means there are no objects, weapons, accessories or 'treasures' of any kind to be found anywhere within the gameworld. What's the point of exploration, straying off the beaten path? Provided that will be possible at all, it is not clear.

      2) You misunderstand. My problem is precisely that there ARE quest markers (confirmed by Mitch on the forums), and, as you say, there shouldn't be. It's a decision meant to accommodate people who can't be bothered to do even a little thinking in a game. One of the worst things to come from modern game design and I didn't expect to see it here. Nothing kills immersion and the fun of exploration like magically being told where everything is, even things your PC couldn't possibly know.

      3 & 4) I'm judging from what has been shown so far or said by the devs. I hope you're right in that some of these things could be different in the completed game, but.. it doesn't seem very likely.

    37. Valeriy on

      I don't understand your disappointment.
      1) Looting... well, it seems to be the norm our days but back then in the times of Mega Drive Shadowrun there was little to no looting. And I like it. It encourages player to "grind" through doing missions ("runs"), not via slaughtering mobs left and right all day long. The lack of in-mission loot can be easily compensated whith after-mission rewards. IMO no loot = better.
      2) Map markers and quest compass... Why there should be any? There are citizens around. Try asking them, may be they know the place you are searching for. Back in the days of SNES Shadowrun there was no compass.
      3) No interactive elements... Why do you think so? Maybe there are security cameras, elevators, force fields. Just not in this (deserted) lab. Or you hoped to find containers with loot? :-)
      4) Difficulty level that's so low... Of course it is low! Did you see that? Almost all enemies (except mage) had only 2 AP, no armour and health below 48 HP, while every runner had 60 HP, some armour and 3 AP for action. These enemies just were no match for runners. And that's it. There is no evidence that every enemy in the game will be that weak. In one of the previous updates we were shown a screenshot of NPC editor. I think it allows developers to set enemy difficulty as high as they want.

      Overall this was just a combat and conversation demonstration. We still didn't see intermission actions. I believe developers said it will be a bunch of unconnected separate missions without the ability to freely walk between locations (which IMO is sad). But I can be wrong.

      What bugs me right now is that every NPC and PC is using battle stance even when not in combat. They need a neutral relaxed stance.

    38. Laker Doktor on

      OMFG it looks glorious and amazing and stuff!
      Kinda disappointed that you can't loot corpses though:(

    39. Missing avatar

      Nurot on

      I backed this project mostly because so many others did and because I liked the idea of elves and other fantasy creatures in a futuristic world. I had never even heard of the previous Shadowgate games. Despite this, Shadowgate Returns has become one of the Kickstarter games I look forward to the most, especially after this great gameplay video. I never figured that when I backed the game way back, but this look way more interesting than a lot of the stuff I backed out of nostalgia.

      I think everything in the video looked graet. I like that the requirements for dialogue options are visible and persisting corpses just clutter up the screen, so I don't miss them. No loot actually makes me happy, since I rather play the game than running around picking stuff up, but I wouldn't really mind if it was added to the game. I think one of my favorite things in the video was that the thin elf was the combat oriented one and the big troll was a Shaman. I guess that means that I will be able to create just any type of character.

    40. Missing avatar

      Sergio on

      So, really nice graphics and music.

      Also the combat system looks deep enough to accommodate diverse tactical approaches.

      But seriously, no looting? both map markers and quest compass? no interactive elements to the scenery except doors and consoles that open doors? a difficulty level that's so low you couldn't mess up even if you tried? byte sized missions that take all of 20-60 minutes to complete?

      You can say all you want this wasn't dumbed down to better appeal to the iOS crowd but it is in plain sight.

      Very disappointed :(

    41. Missing avatar

      yelllowsub on


      1) Will there be a difficulty slider for combat?

      2) Is the GUI adjustable, I think I would prefer to have the conversations on the left screen side

    42. Missing avatar

      SEBO on

      So, in the forums, it says: No looting will be implemented because of insufficent funds???

      I can't imagine an RPG without looting. Looting is the number one reason for me to get into a fight.

      The disappearing bodies and the lack of blood are also bad, but had I known that there would be no loot, I would not have backed the project :( I'm very disappointed about this aspect.

    43. Missing avatar

      Crowley on

      Ok I like what you do so far. Two little things to improove:

      1) Please don't fade out the corpses and maybe more blood? This way it looks/feels so clean. Not if just a fight happened.

      2) If it is technical possible, please add more people to the streets. They don't have to react to the runners, except from run away then the gunfight started. (You don't have to compare to assassins creed, youst a few more people on screen).

    44. Dean Mathison on

      Very impressed by the gameplay, can't wait to get my hands on the game.

      I do have one gripe, though: Surely I can't be the only person to notice that Jake Armitage is now a mage, even though he was a Shaman in the SNES game? What's up with that?

    45. Missing avatar

      BAHON on

      Great job ! Seriously this is amazing !!! Continue your good work , and i'll be the happiest men in the world ;)

    46. Joshua Graves on

      I would totally up my pledge if it meant I could play through this 20 minute side quest. Just saying :-p

    47. Lost-brain -Obsidian Order Dark Goddess on

      So, I truly like this video, this game look really promissing, but from what you footages you give to us, I think there is at least two things to improve from this alpha version :

      1 : I truly like the dialog system, but when there is lines who depends on PC stats, there few things to change : first, I think I will be more immersive If you hide the level of stat needed for succeed when you choose this line. And, for this kind of line, it must have two minimum possible results : success or fail (depending on stat level). I think it will be improve the roleplay of the dialog system.

      2 : the characters in the world are really too static, it will be more immersive if they can move in the shadowrun's universe.

      That's all I have to say, the rest of the gameplay looks really promissing. Good job, guys !

    48. Missing avatar

      Keyser on

      Love it, very good job guys!
      The music is perfect, I like the combat and the writing makes me a happy backer as well.

      I'm not up to speed on SR rules, so if it's part of them just ignore this, but I think I'd prefer player and NPC characters to not be able to walk through each other. Maybe that's already in the code as far as distance calculation goes, but showing the characters take a detour around another character would make the whole thing look better, I think.
      Also, corpses have to stay, at least until you exit the area (possibly with some "remains" to be placed there if you should return to the same area later). As for loot, all I can say is that I always immensely enjoy looting the slain enemies, vanquished by my hand :D I hope that's something you will implement in the future.

      And finally, a question: Even though you are in hostile territory, is it possible to go out of combat mode into exploration mode until an enemy NPC initiates combat? It seemed a little tedious to walk your characters around the builing individually in turns when there was nothing else going on.

      Once again though: Great job, you have my full confidence!

    49. Missing avatar

      Thiefsie on

      Looks good - all I think negatively is that the world is very static with very little animation and a lack of interactivity. Also gore would be good too. The character animations are a bit average too (and also very slow) but I think in general just the world (tiles?) need more animation work on them to stop the game actually looking like a boardgame so to speak. Otherwise this looks intriguingly good. Well done.

    50. Wayne F Newton on

      Awesome guys looking forward to this big time.