Another day, another Shadowrun game has fallen into my lap, and this time it is the second in the Shadowrun Trilogy, Dragonfall. This is not just your bog standard issue either, coming in the form of the Director’s Cut, which first released back in 2014 on PC, which is a re-release of an earlier game. Coming again from Harebrained Schemes, it is interesting to note that the original Dragonfall campaign was originally an add-on for Shadowrun Returns, only making the leap to a standalone release when the Director’s Cut came about. So, with all the history sorted out, let’s look at the game today.

shadowrun dragonfall directors cut review 1

Now, the first thing to check out with games of this type, and of this vintage, is the narrative content. I think it’s fair to say that in the past,when whizz bang graphics weren’t a thing, a lot more attention was paid to the story arc of a game, and Shadowrun: Dragonfall is no exception. The story revolves around a dragon known as Firewing, who unlike the other Great Dragons, who prefer to exert power behind the scenes, got it into her head to go into conflict with the world in Germany. Long story short, she learned the error of her ways, the Luftwaffe shot her down, and everyone lived happily ever after. Except, it appears that celebrations of Firewing’s death may have been a little premature.

As we enter the game, we are joining a team for a nice easy job, when suddenly everything goes wrong, people end up dead, and we begin to see the edges of a very dangerous looking conspiracy. I’m not going to say any more about the story as it genuinely is a cracker, but play along and you too will be breathless not only at the pace it moves at, but at the sheer amount of twists and turns that the narrative takes. It’s a little more involved than Battlefield 2042, let’s put it that way.

Presentation wise, Dragonfall is again exactly as you’d expect, especially if you played the game back in the day, or even if you played the first in the trilogy – Returns – when it was released. That is to be expected as it is in essence an expansion of that game, but I digress. What this means is we are left with a little retro looking affair, with the action viewed again from a top three quarters perspective, and with a similar amount of hard work going into the design of the characters and the environments. The scene is a lot different from the first game, being set in a neighbourhood in Germany, and again the same disparity in setting between corporate and every day places being very marked.

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The sound is again very good, with suitable gunshots and magic spell noises ringing out. It’s all helped along by the fact that the music is suitably futuristic, but kind of retro electronica, much like before. All in all, Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut looks as it did when it was first released, and the work in the text heavy conversation screens (no voice overs here) is all top notch.

Now, I could almost copy and paste the rest of the review from what I put together for Dragonfall Returns, but that would be lazy and somebody might notice. So, here we go, I’ll try and come up with an exciting way of explaining the same gameplay. 

What you’re getting is a game that is very much one of two halves, as anyone who has ever played a tactical RPG before will be aware. In the combat phase, your team of characters has a certain amount of AP available to them; two to begin with, and three as you progress further in the story. Moving costs one AP, if you keep it within a certain radius of your position, or if you spend more AP you can move further. AP is also required to attack, or interact with doors, or do anything really. With the three AP as an example, you could move into cover, get off an attack and also use a med kit, or attack three times, or run away, whatever the situation demands.

The same goes for your teammates, they have the same choices, and with each class of character having different skill sets, they can use their special skills as well. Blitz, your Decker, for instance, can hack into the Matrix, a kind of cyber world, and assuming he stays alive, he can use his hacking skills to take control of turrets, for instance. Meanwhile Glory is an all-round medic and will happily patch other team members up. So on and so forth.

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The rest of Dragonfall is largely about making decisions that are best for your team. A new mechanic this time around allows the team members that you use a lot (I tended to leave Glory at home, largely because in a fight she makes a good hat stand), as they can have individual skills that can be built up to make them stronger. There are also missions tied to your team members, brought in through the Director’s Cut, like an early precursor of the missions in Mass Effect 2. I’m not sure they raise the stakes in any way, but they do provide more back story, which is never a bad thing.

Spending your Karma points in your own skill tree also returns, and pouring the points into the disciplines you prefer can help make you a leaner, meaner unit. It is actually true what I read in one of the loading screen hints: Being a Jack of all trades does make you a master of none, and having a mage who is good with weapons is a bit of a waste. Spending the points in the willpower tree to unlock better spells would be more profitable in the long run, for example.

The usual niggles are present in Dragonfall, much like they were in the first game in the Trilogy: the camera can annoy, as it can’t be rotated and sometimes enemies hide in the blinf spots, and running about the place is a as big a challenge as ever – getting hung on furniture is apparently the biggest danger a Shadowrunner faces on a daily basis. Other than these niggles, the gameplay in Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut is solid, the story is excellent, and this is an improvement over Shadowrun Returns.  

Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut is available from the Xbox Store

Another day, another Shadowrun game has fallen into my lap, and this time it is the second in the Shadowrun Trilogy, Dragonfall. This is not just your bog standard issue either, coming in the form of the Director’s Cut, which first released back in 2014 on PC, which is a re-release of an earlier game. Coming again from Harebrained Schemes, it is interesting to note that the original Dragonfall campaign was originally an add-on for Shadowrun Returns, only making the leap to a standalone release when the Director’s Cut came about. So, with all the history sorted out, let's look…

Pros:

  • Brilliant story
  • Great action sequences, including timed missions that really test you

Cons:

  • Hang ups on scenery
  • Dim witted camera

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Paradox Interactive
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 21 June 2022
  • Launch price from - £16.74
TXH Score

4/5

Pros:

  • Brilliant story
  • Great action sequences, including timed missions that really test you

Cons:

  • Hang ups on scenery
  • Dim witted camera

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Paradox Interactive
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 21 June 2022
  • Launch price from - £16.74

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