The Isometric Age: Shadowrun Returns Screens

By Adam Smith on February 4th, 2013 at 3:00 pm.

Edit: Harebrained have been in touch to let us know that the shots are not screenshots but rather “concept pieces assembled in Photoshop using real in-game assets and character models in arranged poses”. Still, they’re very stylish concept pieces and that’s a much more specific description than we normally receive for things that purport to be ‘gameplay footage’ trailers.

French website Fondation Draco has written lots of words that I don’t fully understand, but VG24/7 reckon the images at the bottom of the article are shots from Shadowrun Returns, procured from a Game Informer article. There are three screens showing environments and one showing the editing tools. I particularly like the one above, and you click that and the three below to make ‘em bigger. Now, let’s all play Crusader: No Remorse, or Regret, whichever one was better. I can’t remember.

This is the first I’ve seen of the game since the release date delay and shift to an isometric engine. I wasn’t too sure about the look at first sight, but I have decided to approve for now. There’s an obvious line of descent from the SNES Shadowrun to this incarnation and I really enjoy that boat in the first image.

Shadowrun Returns is available for pre-order now.

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108 Comments »

  1. NecroKnight says:

    Looks too cartoony for my taste, I’m a bit disappointed.

    • ulix says:

      Shadowrun IS cartoony. Have you ever looked at the P&P illustrations?

      • wodin says:

        Exactly..

      • Drake Sigar says:

        I’m getting flashbacks of the same initial impressions of X-Com Enemy Unknown screenshots dismissing it as ‘cartoony’. That didn’t make much sense to me either considering it’s predecessor.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      It looks gorgeous and I couldn’t be happier about this.

      How come cartoonish is ok in Bioshock Infinite (I don’t like that one bit, it’s a bit like playing first person SIMS) and not here ?

      It looks absolutely great.

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        El_MUERkO says:

        I love the SNES styling, I’m just hoping they add lots of cartoon gore to it, big blood splatters when people get cut in half by katanas or razor wire and chared skeletons of people fireballed etc…

        • Wreckdum says:

          I HAVE A HUGE BONER THINKING OF HOW AWESOME THIS GAME IS GOING TO BE! Sometimes I play Shadowrun on an SNES emulator because I loved it so much.

          • Reefpirate says:

            SNES Shadowrun had the sweet visuals, but the Genesis Shadowrun had the sweet sweet gameplay.

      • zeroskill says:

        Couldn’t agree more. Really looking forward to this.

    • Zelius says:

      I take it you haven’t played the SNES version of Shadowrun? It looks exactly like an upgraded version of that, which I’m very happy about.

    • zeekthegeek says:

      Gotta love people who have no idea about the previous games whining about the look!

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        Not really fair. And technically, even arguable.

        Shadowrun world predates the SNES version. The pen & paper game (which I have had the pleasure of playing for quite a few years) and that gave birth to the Shadowrun world shows in fact a world that has very little in common with the SNES version.

        The SNES version was indeed a cartoonish look into Shadowrun that, which is perfectly aceptable considering the limitations of the platform. It’s perfectly acceptable to not appreciate the game looks. Especially if you are a die-hard fan of Shadowrun. I personally don’t mind it. I believe it sits well with what will be the game genre. But I’m still waiting for a true depiction of Shadowrun, if you know what I mean. (Microsoft version doesn’t count. I don’t want to even speak of that piece of crap).

        • Hulk Handsome says:

          Shadowrun the FPS was actually a really well designed game! Sure, it wasn’t a good Shadowrun game (but I would have loved to see the mechanics used in a Deus Ex style adventure), but as a team-based FPS, it was one of the best I’ve played.

          It’s just a shame there were so few maps. It helped kill the game off earlier than it deserved.

        • The Random One says:

          I admit I don’t know much about Shadowrun (the setting) but the impression that I get is that it’s not that gritty compared to other cyberpunk settings. I mean, it is gritty because cyberpunk is always gritty, but if there was a “you must be this gritty to be cyberpunk” sign Shadowrun would just barely make it.

  2. BobbyDylan says:

    I like.

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    RedViv says:

    Experiencing that warm fuzzy S.P.E.C.I.A.L. feeling. Nice.

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      Morlock says:

      Yes. If they stick to this there will be a very positive fallout from the base. The game looks lilke a long vault from the god awful Shadowrun FPS released some years ago.

      • apocraphyn says:

        I honestly believe that this game could be the Chosen One to bring about a new era of CRPGs. (SNES) Shadowrun was one of my FEVourite games, as a child.

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        darkChozo says:

        You know, aside from some serious teething (ie. lag and matchmaking) issues and the fact that it was Shadowrun in name only, the FPS really wasn’t that bad, certainly not godawful. It was kind of like Counterstrike, except instead of having good gunplay, you could be a spirit-summoning minigun dwarf or a teleporting ninja Batman elf. A good bit of fun if you’re not looking for something serious.

  4. wodin says:

    Like too. Has a Fallout 12 look about it…will buy on release.

    • Teovald says:

      Indeed. I would be interested even without that resemblance. It looks great and Isometric 3D does not need a lot of assets, meaning that the team can focus on making great content (low intelligence dialogues, race, genre deeply taken into account, … ). I am a bit tired of modern rpgs where your starting choices only give you one special stat and one quest.

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    Smashbox says:

    That screenshot exploded a nostalgiabomb in my brain.

    Drooling.

    • Alien426 says:

      Agreed. If their Kickstarter had featured those images, I’d have backed.

      Apropos nostalgia for isometric games: are you aware of Underrail (http://www.underrail.com)? Made by one guy.

  6. Squirly says:

    That first screenshot already grabbed me by the nads. Looks awesome so I guess I have to now start digging for actual info on this.

  7. Jack-Dandy says:

    I’ve read in the GI article that these screenies aren’t 100% authentic. The 3D models were hand-placed by the devs since they aren’t finished with the animation system yet.

    Still, looks neat and a half.

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      elderman says:

      Good to know, thanks for posting that. As a mixture of screenshots and in-progress game assets, these still look promising. They’re getting the world right: grimy and high tech.

      I like that it looks like they’re making a modestly ambitious genre game set in the Shadowrun universe. That’s what I’m looking for.

      The character design detail is part of what makes these screenshots pop, however, so it’d be great if they do some detailed animation work. It would be very cool to have characters putting their backs to walls and reacting to in-game sounds.

  8. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    no regret was the better of the two, although I can’t remember why. I played through each of them in a single sitting when they were released, and have been meaning to replay no remorse since I got it on gog. hmm.

    • Skabooga says:

      I never played ‘No Remorse’, but after playing ‘No Regret’, I feel like I don’t need to. But that being said, I really love ‘No Regret’, despite its flaws.

  9. buzzmong says:

    Oh my. I quite like the look of that.

  10. Bhazor says:

    Godamn that’s pretty.

    That said if this is based on the Snes RPG I’ll be very upset. That game played like absolute arse.
    Any word on if it’s party based and whether it’s real time or not?

    • InternetBatman says:

      Turn-based. It says so in the description on the kickstarter. The images up above show a party too (and the backer stories have been about gathering a group, etc.)

    • Skhalt says:

      I’ll be doing my RPS community service for you British chaps and translate the highlights of that article on the French site:

      - The game takes place in Seattle, in 2054; a second scenario based in Berlin will be released at some point later.
      - As a reference to the SNES game, you’ll start in a morgue; the story, at its beginning, will turn around a sordid affair of organ trafficking.
      - Combat will be turn-based and heavily influenced by XCOM (both the old and the new).
      - You’ll be creating only your main character, you’ll have to recruit NPCs to fill up your party. In combat, you’ll be managing all the characters.
      - The dialog system is based on keywords.
      - The investigation part of the game will be heavily developed.
      - Jake Armitage (which is apparently your main character in the SNES game?) will come back as a NPC.

      • Tomhai says:

        - Combat will be turn-based and heavily influenced by XCOM (both the old and the new)

        Oh hell no, not the new XCom. What on earth could one possible take from it? The most shallow tactical TBS I ever played… OK I might be exaggerating just a little bit, but still, please dont take anything from it.

        • mouton says:

          Fluid movement of troops across terrain? More usable weapon types than “heavy plasma and blaster launcher”? Much more varied maps, despite being pre-made? Aliens actually walking in squads instead moving randomly all over the place? Cover system? Grappling hooks? Stealth suits? Awesome unit designs? Good music?

        • Emeraude says:

          The overwatch may be an inspiration as far as I understood.

  11. razzafazza says:

    these graphics look fantastic – cant wait for the game. only thing i dont like is that an android version is comming – this means i ll most likely get fired because i ll be getting caught playing shadowrun on my note 2 at work ….

    but thats good – more time to play the pc version at home and make scenarios!

  12. Grey Poupon says:

    No Remorse was better, but that might be because I only owned No Regret. Good games both though.

    • tobecooper says:

      I only owned No Remorse and I think it’s better too. But not by much, they’re both quite similar.

      • yonsito says:

        I think so, too.
        But it’s difficult to go back from No Regret to No Remorse because of the forward roll.

        • floogles says:

          I know! Ctrl+forward arrow. Wat! Ah shit, I’m playing no remorse. Dammit.

          But who cares, both those games have the tightest worlds, full of lore, and so damn playable.

          I love them.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      I finished one but dismissed the other as being too similar. Forget which was which though

    • RichardFairbrass says:

      I agree, No Remorse was better. It might be that No Regret just suffered from being second and almost identical to the first. I reckon whichever one you play first will seem best to you.

    • Michael Fogg says:

      But why even bring up Crusader, which is a shooter, in discussion of a sequential strategy.

  13. Unruly says:

    Looks a lot like the SNES version got beefed up. Here’s hoping for Genesis-version gameplay, but with SNES-style story. Seriously. I LOVED the Genesis version of Shadowrun because it was so open and free. I wish I still had a working Genesis and my copy of it, but I was stupid in middle school and sold all my old stuff. But I’ll still go back and fire up a ROM of it every once in a while just to go decking again. Simple and repetitive, yet for some reason it’s extremely satisfying. Especially when you do it from the terminal in the bottom left of the map on Downtown Seattle, and then you can just jack out and sell any data you stole to the guy whose door is only 2 steps away. Rinse, Repeat, Riches!

    Now I’m gonna go get me an Ares Predator, a smartlink, and some cybereyes. Then it’s off to see Mr. Johnson about a run up in the Salish-Shidhe.

    • InternetBatman says:

      It’s not going play like it because it’s turn-based.

      • Unruly says:

        I can deal with that. In fact, I think that will probably be a lot better than the Genesis version, so long as the turn-based bit is combat only. Then there’s less chance of getting instantly overwhelmed because you can’t react to everything. I always hated getting bum-rushed by the random groups of Halloweeners/ in the Genesis Shadowrun. It wasn’t such a problem once you got established, but early on when you’ve got no money and crap gear it meant that you were probably getting scooped by a Doc Wagon more than anything else. They just moved faster than you, and came in groups of 3-4, so it was hard to outrun them unless you were close to a door alreay.

    • Inigo says:

      Jake Armitage is confirmed to be a major NPC in Returns.
      You may start squealing now.

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        Harlander says:

        *clears throat*

        Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  14. Treymoney says:

    No Regret is the better one.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I prefer No Regret too. Loved No Remorse. But while No Regret was pretty much like No Remorse, it made me feel better.

      In all seriousness, No Regret changes were minute but made the game a whole lot more enjoyable. Moar guns! Unlimited inventory space.

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    DrAmateurScience says:

    This is looking absolutely lovely.

  16. Eclipse says:

    “Now, let’s all play Crusader: No Remorse, or Regret, whichever one was better. I can’t remember.”

    Both of them sucked, I know it’s hard but it’s the truth, the control system was such a mess…

  17. InternetBatman says:

    I’m happy I backed this right now. They send out interesting updates (short stories / artwork / hour-long interviews) and the game looks like it’s shaping up, while still leaving a ton of room to expand. If nothing else, modders could do amazing things will all those art assets.

    Wish Wasteland 2 would show the same amount of progress.

    • Emeraude says:

      Same. Some things are going to take a LOT of convincing (I’m really not a fan, to say the least, of the content upgrade model they seem to be going for), but overall I’m really glad I backed this up.

      The devs really seems to be enjoying the crazy ride too.

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      Lars Westergren says:

      According to a backer mail sent out, this is still concept art assembled from game assets. Wasteland 2 on the other hand is going to post a 20 minute long video of someone (Avellone?) playing the game within a week. Not that this is a competition.
      ;)

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    BathroomCitizen says:

    Oh my god, this actually looks good!

  19. eightbitrobot says:

    Gotta love the recent resurgence of classic style isometric RPGs and strategy games.. Wasteland 2, Project Eternity, Xenonauts, Underrail and this.

  20. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Second screenshot. Search the area!
    The guy next to him: “you gotta be kidding…”

  21. DaftPunk says:

    I like how it looks,jeej.

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    Hanban says:

    Yes please!

  23. Snakejuice says:

    OMG I was already listening to the soundtrack when I saw this post. Damn you RPS, now I have to change underwear!

  24. caddyB says:

    Looking good! I even forgot I had backed this!

    also: I liked No Regret better.

  25. derella says:

    In all honesty, the fixed isometric camera is a negative for me, but one I am willing to overlook. I say this as someone who grew up loving all of the old isometric RPGs(Ultima 7/7.5, Fallout 1/2, etc…), but that viewpoint always felt like a technological constraint of the time… Using it nowadays feels like nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake.

    • wodin says:

      I disagree…the game is designed around one camera so that mean no messing around with camera angles etc etc..works for me..sometimes the old ways where the best

      • Emeraude says:

        sometimes the old ways where the best

        I’m always amazed at all the things we did right *because of technical constraints* we have to re-learn because we’re not forced to do them anymore.

        • InternetBatman says:

          You think Bioware would have looked at a prototype of NWN, looked at Baldur’s Gate II, and gone back to prerendering games.

          • Emeraude says:

            Don’t be silly, if it’s more modern, it’s necessarily better.

      • apocraphyn says:

        I heartily agree, Wodin. The dodgy camera angles (I’m well aware there were several options) were the primary reason NWN2 was so difficult and aggravating for me to play through.

        Although, saying all that, Dragon Age: Origins managed to pull it off decently enough. (Still prefer my fixed iso perspective).

  26. deadly.by.design says:

    Crusader: No Recuerdo

  27. D3xter says:

    If anyone is interested, you can find the full Game Informer Preview Scans (6 pages) here: http://zonaforo.meristation.com/foros/viewtopic.php?p=36783861

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      We can always trust you to come up with the coolest links! Seriously, that’s just gold.

      When will RPS start covering porno?

    • rawrty says:

      heck yeah, this link is great. I was already sold from the screenshots, but after reading those scans, the game is starting to sound incredible!

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    Makariel says:

    I sometimes regret not playing no remorse.

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    Llewyn says:

    The golden age of iso RPGs passed me by completely – I was convinced I “didn’t like RPGs”, possibly on no basis whatsoever – and I’ve not really been too excited by the recent nostalgia phase, but every time I see something about this game it makes me think it could be an interesting new gaming direction (or four) for me.

    • InternetBatman says:

      If you want to play old games I would suggest starting at Dragon Age and working backwards by how polished/ close to modern games the game is. DA was by far the most polished one, and they get a little rougher each step back you take. A good progression might be:

      Fallout NV – Kotor – DA – NWN 2 – Baldur’s Gate 2 – one of the major (easier) SNES games on emu (Chronotrigger, Mario RPG, Shadowrun is a bit rough) – Arcanum – Planescape (only if you like reading, seriously) – Baldur’s Gate – Fallout (turn-based) – Fallout 2 (way more expansive, but the opening hour turns about half of people off the game) – Exeunt (ultima 7 made technically easy to play on PC) – and then backwards from there (I’m not really that comfortable).

      You might not like the old RPGs though; they’re dialog heavy with complex skill systems. A good test would be whether you liked Fallout NV or Fallout 3 better. Fallout 3 is a bit more of the fun dungeon runner type, NV is more of the complex, mechanics driven world that mirrors old RPGs.

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        Llewyn says:

        Thanks Batman :-) I wasn’t particularly clear before – I was converted somewhat by some friends when Morrowind came out, and racked up silly amounts of time in that and both Fallout 3 and New Vegas, but of course they’re very different games. At some point I know I should go back and educate myself better, and your suggested list will come in handy.

        I must confess to something like this, with all that being a new game entails (especially modern screen resolutions), appeals to the 2013 me far more than attacking Fallout does. Can’t help thinking that Fallout was probably exactly the game 1997 me wanted but I didn’t even give it a second look at the time.

        Edit: Also enjoyed both KOTORs at the time, but DA did nothing for me unfortunately.

  30. b0rsuk says:

    I don’t like the setting, but I think this looks absolutely amazing. The prettiest isometric game.

  31. Wonderboy2402 says:

    It actually looks better. I was concerned about it being way to cartoony but ths style looks like a good balance. Looks like my money did land in t he right pockets after all.

    • iucounu says:

      Though Shadowrun was always ridiculous. It’s gritty cyberpunk except with generic fantasy races like elves and dwarves and orcs in it, throwing fireballs around. Also, it didn’t ever seem to have its tongue in its cheek, unlike Warhammer 40K.

      • Wonderboy2402 says:

        Concept art for the characters was what had me concerned. THe Orc in particular, but these environments are very nice isometric maps.

      • Emeraude says:

        It hat it’s cake and ate it too: it was tongue-in-cheek (Stuffer Shack anyone ?) while taking some of itself seriously.

        The thing that always surprised me with Shadowrun is how well it worked. I always found it sounded silly and ridiculous. But once engaged with the material, there was no denying that what sounded ridiculous on paper worked beautifully (on paper also).
        I think the care and enthusiasm the writing team took in creating it really shows, and it’s infectious. One tiny detail at a time.

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    Foosnark says:

    I have mixed feelings. Not really what I picture for Shadowrun (neither was the SNES game to be honest), but it does look nice. Hmmm.

    Gameplay will tell, really.

  33. Beybars says:

    I love the hand painted backgrounds. This, Project Eternity and Wasteland 2 are going to be the highlight of cRPG’s next year.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Unless I’m wrong, neither Project Eternity nor this will be hand-painted. PE is using pre-rendered maps, but I belief this is mostly constructed with a bunch of objects. They even had plans to let players DM their own custom maps at one time.

      • stiffkittin says:

        Project Eternity environments will be constructed in 3D for mapping collision, alpha, lighting etc. They will also use some pre-made tilesets, like various dungeons, wilderness and interiors. Then each map will be given to the concept artists to do a 2D paint-over for the final render.

        Animated assets and characters will be in 3D as far as I’m aware.

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    Lars Westergren says:

    Translations of the article say that investigations are going to be an important part of the gameplay, so it’s not just combat, it is going to be heavy on role play and adventure elements. Me like.

    • Emeraude says:

      Notes on the key-based conversation system thus far (coupled with the editor) are probably what makes me the most hopeful for the project. Well, that and the AI.

      Could make for very interesting modules.

  35. pack.wolf says:

    I like it.
    Also a 2D isometric engine probably means it can be easily ported to tablets. I’d love to get another decent game besides Waking Mars for my Nexus 10.

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      Lars Westergren says:

      Tried Call of Cthulhu: Wasted Lands, or Rayman:Jungle Run? Those two are my favourites.

  36. Beelzebud says:

    This is why Bethesda annoyed me so much when hyping Fallout 3. They acted like turn based isometric style games were dead, buried, and laughed at.

    Had they had some vision, and some guts, they could have made something truly amazing out of Fallout.

    • Lawful Evil says:

      And they’ve made something truly amazing – albeit only for a part of the gaming population. Same thing with every game there ever was.

    • MSJ says:

      They made a game they have expertise in making. In fact, they made the Fallout 3 I imagined when I was playing Fallout 2 for the several hundredth time.

    • Emeraude says:

      My main problem with it was always: why choose the Fallout license in the first place, why not make a brand new post apocalyptic game ?

      What’s the point of a *gaming* franchise, when you can’t use it to assess the kind of *game* you’ll be playing in it ?

  37. Totally heterosexual says:

    Well gee, that sure is pretty.

  38. apa says:

    Well this is something. Cyberpunk 2020 (or 2077) and Shadowrun in the headlines. As a P&P guy It’s like 90′s again, in a good way.

  39. Navagon says:

    Oh hell, yes! This is absolutely spot on for what I want to see from this game. I knew I was doing the right thing backing this one and now that seems very close to being confirmed. Let’s hope it plays as good as it looks.

  40. bigjig says:

    Looks great! Good to have the isometric view. Really glad I backed this one

  41. BattleXer says:

    These cut-away shots of building interiors remind me a lot of the optional “DMC” – Downtown Militarized Zone – boardgame, which could be used instead of the standard P&P Shadowrun rules for fire fights and such.
    It came with a bunch of colourfully printed location cards for things like backalleys, car parks, shopping mall plazas, office floors, etc. Perfect for placing your miniature figures. And it expanded the rules with Line of sight stats and a whole bunch of other goodies. Ahhh – those were the days…

    Looking forward to this!!!

  42. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    EMBIGGENMENT

  43. Hoaxfish says:

    official newspost has arts, as well as some extra character ones: http://harebrained-schemes.com/post/new-art/

  44. gruia says:

    lovin it. Hope commandos will get some love

    all heil isometric p !

  45. vodka and cookies says:

    Looks fantastic and the way RPG’s should be (or at least used to be) I despise the use of FPS view points in RPG games.