Shadowrun Returns [$1.99 (HD)] isn't a simple rehash of the 16-Bit console games that founded the universe it lives in. It's the same brand new adventure that was scripted and coded from the ground up for PC and Mac and it is, quite simply, a masterpiece.

According to the developers, however, there are upcoming storylines which will link the game to the Sega and Nintendo siblings. This additional content will initially only be available to the game's Kickstarter backers, with a public release to follow after that.


In Shadowrun Returns, you play the part of a Shadowrunner named... well, you choose your own name, gender and race... and you embark on a journey to hunt down and bring to justice the Emerald City Ripper - murderer of your old friend Sam Watts.

As with most RPGs, there is a fair bit of text to battle through, however, in Shadowrun Returns, this is more of a plus point than a negative. The story is so wonderfully written and each and every character encounter is like reading a from a thoroughly enrapturing novel. The dialogue is beautifully tailored for each character's unique personality and often you'll uncover side missions which can bring in precious Nuyen (the game's currency), and/or increased character attributes such as karma, for helping out a damsel in distress.

The game is played from an overhead, isometric view, unlike the direct top-down Sega Genesis iteration. The backdrops are gorgeously painted, as are the character portraits that pop up upon engaging with the locals.


Movement couldn't be simpler. Simply tap to where you want to go and your character will walk or run to said position, comrades (if applicable) faithfully in tow.

The battle system is also fairly easy to get the hang of. You have a set amount of moves, or Action Points, each turn. These AP can be used for moving, attacking, casting spells and using items such as med-packs, should you or one of your team require a bit of patching up. It's a turn-based strategy affair that works brilliantly... no unwanted, random battles here!

What I really love about Shadowrun Returns is the mixture of real world (the game takes place in Seattle) and fantasy. The game combines technology and conventional weapons with magic and the traditional fantasy character races such as elves, dwarves and trolls.


As well as character races, there are six classes available; Mages, Street Samurai, Decker, Rigger, Shaman and Physical Adept.  Mages utilise magic, Street Samurai are the warriors of the bunch, Deckers are like futuristic super-hackers, Riggers control drones that aid in combat and/or healing, Shaman "see dead people" and can also talk them into lending a hand in battle and Physical Adepts are able to use magic spells to increase their performance and attributes, as well as unleash a few cans of the old whup ass.

If you're after a game that has an involving storyline, excellent control system, intriguing and engaging characters and is something that you can pick up and play, despite having no prior experience with the RPG genre, I highly recommend Shadowrun Returns. It's almost more of a character driven, point and click adventure with the added depth of an RPG thrown in for good measure.

Okay, so far this has been somewhat of a glowing review. There are bad bits'n pieces, however, namely glitches that affect play on certain devices and the lack of atmospheric sound/music. To be honest, I didn't even notice the lack of sound as I'd had nothing to compare it to and the footsteps/weapon sounds are working fine on my iPad 4. I was so engrossed in the game I hadn't even given it a thought until it was brought to my attention over in the forums.


There are also other small issues here and there, such as characters disappearing/reappearing when moving between areas and not being able to select your difficulty level (it wasn't saving when exiting the options screen), though nothing popped up that was a real showstopper and according to the developer, a patch has been submitted already which addresses these faults. Some iPad Mini users running iOS 7 have reported the game as being practically unplayable but as I mentioned, on my iPad 4 it's smooth as silk and in glorious Retina resolution.

My time with Shadowrun Returns has certainly turned me into a fan of this game, despite its current level of glitchiness. So much so, I'm even going to hit up eBay for a copy of the Genesis version. I'd look into the original tabletop game, too... but I have no friends to play it with. Just as well, as I'm about to play through Shadowrun Returns again and again with new characters. I may be quite some time...

TouchArcade Rating

  • Robert McGovern

    If I hadn't bought the PC version is snap the iPad version up, despite some of the compromises (like loss of rain effects). Surprised it didn't get a 4 based on the save system.

    • SoyGreen

      Some people don't hate the save system - myself included - it's an older style of save... but isn't an issue to many more people that you probably realize. 4 1/2 is right in my book.

      And I'm more than happy to give up the rain effect to be able to play it wherever I want! Plays REALLY nicely on the iPad.

      • dotKay

        I would imagine that the save system would be less of a problem on the iPad, knowing that you can just return to the home screen and leave the game running on the background. Is this the case or do you lose your progress if you do that?

      • regh

        this is what i do usaly, but sometimes it reboot instead of restarting at my current positon, maybe a problem of memory usage

    • Tommmy

      Also, the game is a bit laggish on iPad 3.

      • SoyGreen

        I have no issues on the iPad 2... running iOS 7.

      • Tommmy

        Might be due to smaller screen resolution.

      • Aaron Sullivan

        Yeah, iPad 3 is sort of a raw deal that way. :/ Hope that doesn't happen to the iPad Mini Retina though I'm not sure how they'd avoid it.

  • worldcitizen1919

    You hit the nail on the head with the word MASTERPIECE. I've been trying to describe just how brilliant this game is. Have never come across something so intriguing and immersive EVER. Even with no music I played this all day Sunday and into the night and again the next day. What made me decide to get it was the artwork -I just loved it. But the game behind this is awesome. I hope they add more content soon.

  • Endscrypt

    This game is amazing I see why you all have so much luv for it, but it's not practically unplayable on iPad mini! It is UNPLAYABLE(full stop) on iPad mini. Complete let down

    • Poo

      I restart my mini before I play and it doesn't crash for an hour+,I also have 2 gigs free which helps. Before I only had half a gig free it crashed every five mins.

    • matus

      It crashes VERY regularly in my ipad 2.

  • defunct32

    Is this game good? I see RPG and tactical, I like those two genres will I like this?

    • flashbackflip

      If the word 'cyberpunk' clicks with you - get it! Get it NOW

    • Aaron Sullivan

      I don't see how you could be confused about that if you have read the review. Is there something you aren't telling us?

      • defunct32

        The review was great, I love the visual but I'm not feeling the cyberpunk them although I'm willing to give it a try, I'm used to lore, magic like Disgsea, FFT, the only thing that's not magical RPG I've played wss Advance Wars on the GBA/DS.

      • Aaron Sullivan

        Oh, I don't consider RPG to mean medieval fantasy as you seem to (sci-fi and cyberpunk are very common themes for RPGs). The cool thing about this is that it overlays the classic fantasy races over modern combat. Should be plenty for you to like. 🙂

    • Eseres

      If you liked those games, i'd say: go get Shadowrun Returns!
      Okey, so it costs a little, but its worth it. No ads and a great game?
      It needs about 943 MB of space though. And enjoy! 🙂

      • Eseres

        943 MB when installed. You probably need twice that to download.

  • JP Falcon

    This is a great only quibble is that I wish there was a place you can go to hire yourself out on mini tasks so that you can gain some much needed nyuen. The early part of the game gives you some extra tasks but they seem to dry up by mid game.

  • Eseres

    I must say i really like this game. In a way it kind of reminds me of "Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel", with a bit of "Tactical Soldier: Undead Rising", wrapped in a cyperpunk-like world. And it also has a "X-Com: Enemy Unknown" -feel to it, i think. As it was pointed out in a earlier video about this game, the character building part maybe is a bit extensive, but i liked it. And that is probably one of the things with the game that made me like it so much to begin with. It plays like a point and click RPG -style game untill you reach a conflict, then it turns into a "Tactical Soldier/X-Com" gamestyle. I simply love it.

    Considering this is a mobile devise version, i can only imagine how the PC vetsion looks like. Great game!

  • flashbackflip

    It's not a '16-bit version that founded the universe' it was an old pen-n-paper game that 16-bit version has been put in

    • d4d

      I second that!!!

      That mistake in the 1st sentence of the test hurts my eyes.

  • flashbackflip

    The game in its state now is basically long and very interesting interactive narration - simply put - it's a novel, in which you must do combat sequences to be able to proceed

    Don't get me wrong - it is not bad - the story is very good and atmospheric to the max, so it is definitely worth buying/playing

    I checked official game forums and noticed that level constructor, provided with the PC version, is being actively used - so the game now is more of a demo of what can be done with it (and again - i don't mean the word 'demo' being perceived as a flaw - it is not like that)

    What makes me happy - are the games being constructed by fans already which have FREE ROAM world, bringing this title even closer to Fallout 1-2 style of game

    My only hope - we will see those (or other free roam) campaigns on iPad and not only on PC

  • flashbackflip

    As for the character creation - it is made absolutely as it was in pen-n-paper version of this game - with TONS of skills and perks - and this is the most in-depth char-table i've seen on ipad (and i played every decent rpg out there, including magnificent oldschoool Spider games such as 'Avadon')

  • TheRybka

    No iPhone version is a huge letdown. Rad Soldiers works wonderfully on my screen, so the genre IS doable. Additionally, there are plenty of PC/Console to iPhone ports that have sold well, so there's no excuse there, either.
    Oh well. There's plenty of other developers who would like my $10, so no skin off my nose.

    • themostunclean

      There are a number of people on the forums that have already hacked this onto their iphone- it's virtually unplayable. The text is unreadable, buttons too small, details of the gorgeous artwork are completely lost. Porting for iphone would require a massive amount of reworking to the fundamental layout of the game.

      Maybe if you're patient it will happen in a year or so, like Bastion (unlikely though).

      • SoyGreen


        Not everything can be fully adapted to the phone screen. I'm sorry the OP doesn't have an iPad it appears... but hey - without a LOT of major work on a full UI revamp... it just isn't going to play well on the phone.

    • themostunclean

      Plus I don't know how you can compare Rad Soldiers, a basic-looking freemium fest, to this game. Both are strategy based, that's about it.

  • tinkie277

    Ohhhhh..... But I don't get paid until Friday!!

    • tinkie277

      Oh, egg on my face, not avail. On iPhone.... That's gutting!

  • Rusothil

    This is a very well structured/worded/ and phrased review. This made me even more excited to purchase the game!!

  • MadWraith

    srsly im not kidding, this game is truly epic ...

  • Based Xatu

    Is the game to ui complex for them to have made an iPhone version? I was looking forward to this on an actual mobile device, not a half-laptop.

    • tinkie277

      Completely agreed, I can't play games on my break at work on an iPad, which is why my phone is perfect.... Hopefully it's coming.... I found this with TellTales Jurassic Park series too though.

    • SoyGreen

      In it's current form - yes. They would have to have a complete UI revamp for it to work on the phone... even then - the environments would likely be very small on the phone and movement and selecting targets would put the user on a constant zoom in move move move adjust click move screen cycle that would make it very unenjoyable to play.

    • Richard Abreu

      Are you saying a laptop isn't an "actual mobile device?" The ipad isn't an "actual mobile device?" If so, you're going to be heartbroken when the iWatch comes out and your iPhone is no longer an "actual mobile device."

  • Reignmaker

    Bugs aside, I absolutely love the lore and setting in this game. Hopefully the patch will be out soon. Heard it was supposed to come out by today. But was probably just a guesstimate.

  • Maniacfive

    Have played quite a few hours into it and believe I'm coming to the end of the adventure. However, I've only played one class and the replay value seems huge by playing the other classes. I've thoroughly enjoyed being John the Decker.

    Playing on an iPad 3 I haven't had any problems. Sometimes the sound drops out, but no crashes.

    I think this may be another XCOM situation where after iPad I buy the full Mac version. The user generated content sounds like a great thing!

  • Eddy

    I feel you Karl, most of my friends would never play board/table games. No matter how much they like a video game, board games are off limits.

  • Endscrypt

    Poor save system,but it is what it's always been so.. But been totally broken on ipad mini! Is almost unforgivable, but if ya patch it fast I will


    Crud. I'm using an iPad mini running on iOs 7. Guess Ill have to wait for a fix then...

  • Opinion

    "public market center"

    I love that

  • Deter Pinklage

    I'm refusing to buy this game until they fix the save system. Wasteland 2 can't come soon enough.

  • REkzkaRZ

    First -- ShadowRun rocks. I kickstarted this & have finished this on PC. It's not all I was hoping for, but it's pretty good -- I played the crap out of it. I love the SR universe, and I guess that'd be my biggest gripe -- it doesn't have enough. I also wished the character classes were more accurate to the RPG, but compromises must be made I guess.
    Save issue was nothing to me. I had *zero* problems, and if you somehow make a major fail, there is a REWIND in the 'load' option to go back a lot.
    Future expansions from Harebrained, plus the UGC (User Gen Content), all look like this game will keep on chugging along for the future. There is a pretty nice UGC for random missions already out -- I bet it makes its way to iPad soon enough.
    Multiplayer & real 'squad' development would also have been a bonus.

  • Gustav

    TA reviews keep getting worse. No offense, just saying. No reference to the SNES game? This app is its successor. The soundtracks includes some of its themes. Oh right, you didn't hear any music but you didn't notice it. 4.5 stars for a bugged app that has no music, not even Retina, and no user campaigns but vague promises one shouldn't rely on. I better keep my $9.99, and in the future won't attend too much significance to these overly enthusiatic reviews.

    • bigballer

      Retina is just a buzz word. The graphics aren't stretched out and blown up from some tiny resolution. It looks good.

  • Endscrypt

    I've been having the same crashing issues on ipad mini! Had gave up when I thought I'll try aeroplane mode and see if it runs,this has worked in the past. Just played this very cool game for the first time without any crashes for about 2 hrs. Way by the area it was crashing at before, hope this works for everyone with an ipad mini until we get a fix/update peace n' out

  • regh

    the patch fixing background music and ambients sounds is out

  • Chris1a

    I give this review zero point zero out of 8 bananas. On a bigger more complex game like this I do believe most people want to know about the game mechanics in more detail, and what it is you're actually gonna be doing. Had I not known before hand about this game I would still have no clue what kind of game this is after reading that review.

    • ptrostli

      You need to know 2 things

      - Quality game.
      - Crashes most of the time on iOS 7.

      So yeah, in addition they charged $9.99 for the original release on App Store, which was unplayable till November.

  • Zenfar

    Berlin Berlin Berlin can't wait for expansion

  • ptrostli

    TouchArcade should lower their review...

    Doesn't mention it's STILL broken,

Shadowrun Returns Reviewed by Karl Burnett on . Rating: 4.5