Discussion The Patient Gamer - Shadowrun: Hong Kong - Never Make A Deal With A Dragon

GodisanAtheist

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2006
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Recently completed the main campaign for the final Hare Brained Scheme Shadowrun game set in the eponymous Hong Kong.

For the uninitiated, Shadowrun is a universe where fantasy and cyberpunk have collided. It's the 6th world and modern humanity has been turned upside down with the awakening of meta humans and magic. Society as we know it has collapsed and been reborn, nations have fractured, power structures have toppled, and the world is an insane place run by massive multinational corporations with private armies and shadow wars.

Shadowrunners are folks that have fallen off the grid, freelancers who can conduct covert operations for the powers that be with plausible deniability.

Hong Kong is the third game in this series, in many ways the product of what HBS learned making the first two games. Returns/Dead Man'S Switch was pure noire, a gritty detective story. Dragonfall was peak cyberpunk, with the Flux State and German Punk aesthetic. Hong Kong is... well it's the Hong Kong Triad flick of the series.

The gameplay is solid and fundamentally unchanged from the prior two games. Some minor refinements have been made to some of the upgrade trees, weapons, etc to make them more useful. Lessons learned from prior games. Decking and cyberspace have the largest gameplay overhaul, with some stealth mechanics and minigames that feel like one step forward and one step back. These encounters virtually always devolved into combat for me, but even then the encounters were never terribly difficult.

The real change in SR:HK is the venue. As usual, HBS understated art style really lends itself to the gritty Hong Kong streets, and the story is wrapped in more traditional eastern mysticism.

Your character is summoned to Hong Kong by his foster father, to a place called the walled city: a horrific slum which oozes with negative Qi. You father goes missing, strange stories of a thing at the heart of the walled city circulate, and the nightmares begin...

I've never been a huge fan of asian videogames (JRPGs and such) and an even more strained relationship with games developed by western studios with east Asian settings and themes. It's a fine line to walk and it's tough to do the material justice while avoiding western stereotypes. SR:HK does a good job drawing on real east Asian mysticism to build it's special brand of cyberpunk fantasy, but some of the writing and triad themes do come off as cliche and a bit forced.

Speaking of writing, and for that matter reading, there is a lot of it. There was a lot of writing in Dragonfall too, but somehow Hong Kong's feels a bit more forced and less natural. Random street punks are barfing up their whole life stories at the slightest prompting, everything is explained in excruciating detail. It can get to be too much, and break up the flow of the game a bit too much between the combat. Nevertheless, the usual stat based dialogue checks are back in full force, with some nice choice and consequence payoff for your decisions.

Hong Kong's cast of characters is also great, giving Dragonfall's cast a solid run for their money. An Orc Shaman, a sentient Ghoul, a psychopathic drone opperator... It's a colorful bunch that are easy to love. Solid character quests all around as well.

If you liked Returns or Dragonfall, you'll like Hong Kong as well. It's a shame HBS is done with the series, but I do sincerely hope Shadowrun gets a proper AA game treatment at some point. It deserves more time in the sun, it simply has too much charm, wit, and character IMO to ever survive a transition to mass appeal.
 

WelshBloke

Lifer
Jan 12, 2005
28,894
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It's a shame HBS is done with the series, but I do sincerely hope Shadowrun gets a proper AA game treatment at some point. It deserves more time in the sun, it simply has too much charm, wit, and character IMO to ever survive a transition to mass appeal.
1st (or 3rd) person Shadowrun AAA game please!
 
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