Share this project


Share this project

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.

Recent updates


88e382d9bbf41eeddbe4ab609cb740cd original.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
C168d9ef3b3bc057beeebf0de454ac24 original.png?ixlib=rb 1.1
3e01b47cac8aecd462b745244a3b1945 original.png?ixlib=rb 1.1
7a1f9a1cd25c257a4fb02837e4870c11 original.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Tablets Away!

Posted by Harebrained Schemes LLC (Creator)

Hey Everyone! 

When Jordan created the original world of Shadowrun, he didn’t predict that people would one day interact with that world on touch-screen computers more powerful than the one that took us to the moon. It is extremely gratifying that the enthusiasm for this game setting has stood the test of time and that we are now able to deliver it on mobile devices to a new generation of gamers. 

The iOS and Android tablet versions of Shadowrun Returns is being released in the Apple and Google Play stores for $9.99 on Thursday, September 26. The tablet versions doesn't include the editor and will not contain access to community created content but we do plan to bundle the best community content and release it on tablets at some point in the future. 

As we've said before, we know a most paid marketing efforts are kind of useless. Most of us rely on the opinions of people we trust to help us figure out what we want to play next. So please help get the word out that the iOS and Android versions are available by sharing the links below, along with some Shadowrun love. 


Google Play: 

 And here's the new Facebook cover photo for you. 

Welcome to the Sprawl, Touch-screener! 


Dev Diary – State of Berlin

Posted by Harebrained Schemes LLC (Creator)

Hi guys! Mike McCain here – I’m the art director for SRR, and I'm also heading up creative development of the Berlin campaign so I wanted to give everyone an update on where we’re at and where we’re going.

Story: We’ve completed a first draft of our story for the Berlin campaign. There’s still plenty to refine and iterate on but we’re all excited about where it’s heading and agree that the “bones” of it are solid. Without venturing into spoiler territory, it has a lot of fun Shadowrun elements and really plays to the strengths of the Berlin setting – the anarchist Flux state, the many varied factions and ideological viewpoints present in Berlin, and the sense of teeming opportunity for the savvy Shadowrunner. Berlin is a new standalone campaign, not a sequel to Dead Man’s Switch. As such, you’ll start the campaign with a new character. The player is cast as a more seasoned runner this time around, who’s recently relocated to Berlin. You’re running with a small crew which you’ll get to know well as the game progresses.

One thing we’re particularly excited about is developing the player’s home base neighborhood, which we’re currently calling the Haven. In 2054, Berlin exists as a fully neo-anarchist state – it’s not a crazy, lawless frontier, but rather a grand experiment in self-governance and emergent social order. Neighborhoods in Berlin become their own entities, with small communities banding together and often operating completely independently of the rest of the city. These neighborhoods organize their own protection and resources, sometimes even to the extent of walling off the entire block. Technology (and the electricity to use it) isn’t always available, and some parts of the city have fallen back to older patterns of living. We’re focusing on one such neighborhood for the player. Not only do you have a home base in this area, but you can explore and meet people in the surrounding neighborhood – meet a contact at the cafe down the street, or head to that back-alley street doc for some new meds or cyber. While developing this Haven area, I’ve been working with the Shadowrun pen-and-paper team in Germany to make sure we construct a slice of Berlin that’s accurate to the spirit of the campaign setting.

The main campaign of the game will allow you to complete certain missions in the order you choose, and will present you with some different ways to tackle those missions as well as some optional side objectives. To be clear though, Berlin is not a sandbox environment or an open-world experience. What we are working to create is a more flexible story structure and an engaging “hub area” that will give the player some choices and a sense of place and purpose.

Design: For the last few weeks, Trevor and Kevin (our designers who did the bulk of the level design for the Seattle campaign) have been prototyping a variety of gameplay ideas for missions. We want to create meaningful choices for the player within scenes. As an example, Kevin’s working on a run against a corporate facility with several possible ways for the player to gain entry depending on their party’s skillset. The choice of approach isn’t always clear cut, however – one path may allow the player to slip in undetected but at the expense of some innocents. We’re also working on some more unique non-combat elements – the other day Trevor created a dog character in the Haven area that you can interact with and get to follow you around.

Also, this week we welcome two new members to our design team, Simon and Andrew, who complete the team for Berlin. (Simon’s our new level designer and Andrew’s our new writer.) It was really fun recruiting for both of these positions, as Mitch and I got to play everyone’s audition levels which showed off a lot of fun, creative ideas. In fact, Andrew wrote a sample NPC character for his audition that we now plan to use in the game. When these guys showed up on Monday, we actually wound up re-arranging the office a bit so that now the design team has a dedicated space right next to the Berlin art team. This should allow for more fluid iteration on scenes between designers and environment artists.

Art: Berlin’s a really exciting environment to explore visually – the concept of the Flux State creates a ton of opportunities for unique visual elements. The environment team’s already put together a great European museum interior set and is now hard at work developing our Haven area. It’s fun to think about how a neighborhood would become self-sustaining – the residents of this place have to have their own shared arrangements for power, food, communications… this district is independent from the outside. This means, for example, rooftop gardens and a central growing area with hydroponics technology allowing a high yield of crops from a relatively small area; solar panels plastered across buildings; a cafe at the end of the block which has become the community’s informal gathering place; jury-rigged street lighting along the main strip of the area; and a ruined, fenced-off building which has since become an agreed-upon dump location for unwanted items.

(A sample of some visual development work for Berlin's Haven area. Larger here.)

Berlin will come with several new tilesets, which will also mix and match well with the core game’s tilesets to create a lot of variety and opportunities. Our top priorities for Berlin environments are: 1. fully realizing the Haven area as a vibrant, dynamic community, 2. Creating a great European corporate office tileset (for all of our classic office-incursion shadowrunning needs), and 3. building a satisfying final-mission environment (which I can’t say more about without spoilers…). In addition, we have a cool industrial factory environment set underway and a couple of our environment artists have put together a great new set of Berlin advertisements, signs and graffiti.

We’re also working on other types of enemies and creatures for the game. So far we have some cool new supernatural creatures (such as a Fire Drake) and some new private security forces for you to contend with – Knight Errant. Berlin will also include some new player portraits, outfits, and Germanic totem choices for shamans.

Systems: In between their work on the other big-ticket dev tasks, the engineering team’s been able to complete some fun new features for us to use in Berlin. We now have the ability to display important mission data directly in the game’s UI. This makes it easy for us to communicate custom mission objectives (For example, the number of rounds before reinforcements arrive, # power junctions remaining, etc.) Another cool new toy is… exploding barrels! Because… video games. (Actually, our engineers went above and beyond with this feature and now we can make any actor explode with any type of effect or damage, and even leave behind damage-over-time effects on the tiles in the area.)

Another thing we’re excited to add in this new campaign is some more weapon variety. So far we have a grenade launcher, sniper rifle, throwing weapons, and even a taser going in. There may be one or two other fun weapons that find their way in as well…

What’s Next: This week we’re shifting from pre-production to production. I’ll be finalizing our story with the design team, along with Jordan and Mitch, to make sure we’re constructing this campaign on a strong foundation. We’ve flowed out a schedule from now until the end of the year so that we can budget our production time appropriately. The environment team is moving from concept art to full tileset production on our Haven location. Our story is being broken out into discrete mission outlines, with each designer taking the lead on a set of missions. Kevin’s created a great “mission doc” template that we’ll use not only to document a clear set of goals for each mission, but also to track feedback and important hotspots for our test team to pay attention to. Our next milestone as a team is to construct a full first-playable of our Haven neighborhood, with the player able to explore the area, talk with the locals, buy equipment, and maybe complete a small side objective or two – then return to their base to get to know their team. This will establish a strong template for both the Haven location and the characters in it that we can build the rest of the experience on.

So that’s where we’re at! If you have any questions about Berlin, I’ll be stopping by the HBS Dev Q&A section of the forum as time allows – starting next week – so feel free to leave questions there for me (please put [Berlin] at the front of your thread title).

Until next time!

- Mike

And… some other quick updates:

Kickstarter Rewards: Many of you have already received your dogtags and t-shirts in the mail but those of you who backed at higher levels were still waiting. Not for much longer though! We have finally received the hardcover Anthologies from our printer and have already started to ship them out.

Tablet Releases: The iOS version of Shadowrun Returns is complete and has been submitted to Apple certification. It’s hard to predict certification times but we’ll keep you posted. The Android version of the game is nearly complete and should be ready for release at the same time as the iOS version.

The Next Patch: We’re looking to release the next patch for Shadowrun Returns sometime in early October, and it will include a number of the new code and editor features mentioned in the Berlin update above (like custom mission objectives) so you can start using them in your stories before Berlin is even released! It will also include the usual bug fixes and improvements.

Linux Release: The next patch (again due in early October) will also include the Linux Beta versions of both the game and the editor. If you’re a Linux user, we’d love to get your help testing when it comes out!

Improved Save Games: Our intrepid engineers are hacking away at improving our save game functionality in an experimental branch of the code. We still can’t commit to such a major architectural change or to how long it would take to complete but we are diligently working on it, so please stay tuned.

Localization: We’ve pulled all text from the game and sent it to our localization partners, who are currently translating the game into French, Italian, German and Spanish. We should receive translated text back at the end of the month, after which it will require some heavy integration work into the game. We anticipate this work being completed in late October / early November. We’re also working on Russian and Chinese translations of the game, though we don’t have a timeframe for those yet.

And finally…

The Golem Arcana team has launched their Kickstarter funding campaign and it’s off to a great start – check it out, and tell your friends about it!

Saves, Berlin, and a Let's Play with Jordan & Mitch

Posted by Harebrained Schemes LLC (Creator)

Hey Everyone!

Things are moving quickly here so we thought we’d quickly update you on what’s going on.

Beyond working on bug fixes, translations, Linux, and finishing the tablet versions of the game, the engineering team has been investigating improvements to our save game functionality. We are aware that there are a number of people who would like the ability to save in the middle of scenes. However, we also know that adding this feature would involve major changes to the core infrastructure of the game. It’s still too early to say whether this is going to be possible, but we wanted to let you know that we’re actively investigating it and will let you know more in the coming weeks. 

We've heard a lot of questions from you wondering what to expect from Berlin. Well, our original plan called for a modest-sized campaign that we could ship by the end of October. However, after listening to your forum discussions and feedback, it became clear that you would like to see something bigger (and so would we). So, we've decided to spend more time on Berlin to create an experience closer to the size of Dead Man’s Switch. A story of that scope will take longer, so we’re targeting January for its release. While we're still in the early stages of development and many things could change, we’d like to share what we’re planning so far. For example - we know that we want our next story to feel more like the player is part of a shadowrunning crew and contain more corporate intrigue.

Here are the key ideas driving Berlin pre-production right now: 

  • A more flexible main story arc - choose which runs to complete first, and which factions to complete objectives for 
  • More depth to the NPC runner characters 
  • New weapons, outfits, portraits, music, and enemies - including more magical creatures 
  • Improved Physical Adept gameplay - along with additions for some of the other existing archetypes 
  • A European city with a very different look, “vibe”, and cast of characters 
  • A story that highlights the compelling themes of the Shadowrun: Germany sourcebook 

In addition, for the GMs out there, all of the environments and characters that we add in Berlin will also be available in the Shadowrun Returns Editor for anyone who has the Berlin campaign installed.

One last thing - as we’ve highlighted before, there’s some really cool stuff happening in the world of Shadowrun Returns Community Created Content. We love playing the stuff you guys come up with - so much so that we made a “Let’s Play” video of Mitch and Jordan playing "Jacked Up" by Taloswind. They had a blast, and they'll certainly be doing more of these. Subscribe to the Harebrained Schemes YouTube channel if you don’t want to miss ‘em! 

That’s it for now! If you’re at Gen Con, please stop by and see us! In addition to all the seminars we’re running, you can find us in Hall F near the front door, running playtests of Golem Arcana all weekend long. 

Take care! HBS

What’s Happening and What’s Next?

Posted by Harebrained Schemes LLC (Creator)

Hi Everyone!

Now that the game is out, there's a ton of cool stuff happening in the world of Shadowrun Returns - both here at our office and in the fantastic community that's developed around the game. Read on for a full report on what's been happening and what's next.

The First Patch is Away!

Our dev team has been squashing bugs left and right, and we released a game update yesterday. On Steam, this update is applied automatically and you can see our release notes in the Announcement section of our Steam page. The updated DRM-free version is available on our HBS Account Site. Just login and download the game again. The release notes are also available on and we’re looking to find a way for you to be able subscribe to that page so you can get automatic updates in your inbox.

And thanks to everyone who reported issues! We really appreciate the support. If you see something wrong be sure to follow the link below and tell us about it.

What We’re Working on Now

After taking a deep breath, the team is back at work supporting the game and making sure we meet our commitments. Here’s where we are:

Ongoing Bugfixing, Balancing & Support

As you’ll see below, the team is busting on several fronts simultaneously, but we’re watching the forums and reviewing bug reports for important issues to fix. When we have a critical mass of fixes ready to go or we find something important that needs to be addressed ASAP, we’ll do an update and provide documentation as noted above.

Linux Release

We have started working on the Linux version of Shadowrun Returns this week. We have our build machine up and running and have started making test builds. It’s still unclear just how much more work is necessary, because the builds are pretty rough in spots. For example, we can create characters, but there are errors when loading into the first apartment scene. The editor is now compiling in Linux, but unfortunately crashes when trying to load scenes. We’re confident we can work through the various Linux-related issues, but it is going to take some time to wrangle them into submission.


We’re also actively pursuing localizations of the game so Shadowrun fans around the world can enjoy Shadowrun Returns. We’re extracting all the text in the game and sending it to our translators. Based on their estimates, and budgeting for unexpected issues (always plan for the unknown), we believe we’ll have Spanish, Italian, German, and French versions ready to play by early October.


Development of Berlin art is already underway, and our design team is also starting to prototype gameplay and mission ideas for the Berlin campaign. We’re targeting late October for the release of Berlin. Here’s a peek at one of the locations we’re working on:

iOS and Android Tablets

While we wanted to get tablet versions of SRR out at the same time as the PC and Mac versions, our main priority was creating the best game possible on all platforms. To that end, we delayed the tablet release for a few weeks to make sure they meet our quality bar. We expect the remaining work on the tablet versions should only take a couple of weeks, but we don’t know how long it will take for the game to go through Apple certification so we can’t give you a specific release date yet. As a reminder, the tablet versions will not include the editor and will not contain access to community created content. We do plan to bundle the best community content and release it on tablets some time in the future.

Spotlight on Community Created Content

We’ve got to give a shout out to Opifer and his team of over 80 dedicated GMs (!) from around the globe over at You may recognize Opifer from the forums or you may have seen his mission, “Life on a Limb”, up on the Steam workshop. Opifer and the rest of the SR Identity crew are hard at work creating a 100+ hour community created campaign based on published Shadowrun source material (novels, sourcebooks, etc.). Now, THAT’S some serious ambition! If you’re an aspiring writer or editor whiz, be sure to check out the site and contact Opifer if you’d like to get involved.

We’re committed to helping people learn to use our tools by providing tutorials, examples, and even sharing HBS best-practices for creating content in the Shadowrun Returns Editor. Here are some of the things we have to offer:

Shadowrun Returns Wiki

To start, we have created the Shadowrun Returns Wiki that can be found at It’s a great resource for anyone playing the game but especially for GMs. Check out the Tutorials page where HBS and the Community are putting up new tutorials and helpful hints all the time.

This week, we added tutorials about: 

  • How you build a Matrix run
  • How to create custom NPCs (Video)
  • How to set up NPC teams and have characters change teams mid-scene
  • How to string multiple scenes together (Video)
  • How to set up your own props and best practices for using them

We've also posted several pieces of our internal Environment Art Guide to help you in creating your own environments. These wiki pages will help you paint your own props in Photoshop, setup new props in the Editor, and add lighting and visual effects to your levels.

Shadowrun Returns Editor Online Web Conference 

Additionally, Producer Brian will be holding two public web conferences on September 7th at 9 AM and 9 PM PST for GMs who want to ask their burning questions about the editor. Space will be limited and registration is required so be sure to RSVP by clicking the link below. Fill out your information and we’ll contact you with more details. Shadowrun Returns Editor Web Conference Registration Form

Gencon Workshops

Finally, we were able to schedule two additional SR Game Mastering: Editor 101 workshops at Gencon on Thursday and Sunday. Mike Mulvihill and Producer Brian will be running all the workshops and Jordan and Mitch may stop by, as well. 

Here are the workshop numbers to sign up for those: WKS 50790 and WKS 50791

Update on Backer Rewards

We’re also doing our very best to get our Backers’ physical rewards out the door ASAP!

If your order does not include a physical copy of the Shadowrun Returns Anthology, your rewards will begin shipping next week. (Huzzah!) If it does contain the printed version, however, we have some bad news. Our book publisher has, much to our dismay, pushed back our printing date (for the second time). So rewards that include the hardcover anthology won’t ship until the books are done. If you’re itching to read the Anthology, be sure to download the PDF available from the HBS account website. We'll notify you as soon as the book is hot off the presses. 

Now for the good news. If you remember, we wanted to put some extra goodies on our Dog Tags but due to timing concerns, we weren’t able to in time for manufacture and shipping. We did put them on the HBS Account Site for you, though!

The extra goodies come from our friends at Catalyst Game Labs, publishers of Shadowrun tabletop RPG:

  • A copy of the Shadowrun Fifth Edition Quick-Start Rules
  • An excerpt from the Sixth World Almanac
  • An excerpt from the Shadowrun Novella: "Neat" - in epub and mobi formats

IMPORTANT: We’re going to do ONE FINAL download from the HBS Account website for people’s shipping addresses. Please go to this link and follow the directions to make any necessary changes to your information in your HBS Account by Sunday August 4th PST.

Whew - that was a lot of information! As always, if you have specific questions, the best way to get an answer is to email us at We work hard to respond as fast as possible!

Have a great weekend!


Shadowrun Returns is Live!

Posted by Harebrained Schemes LLC (Creator)

For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.