shadowrun: dragonfall

while i'm on nontechnical media stuff.....

we can agree perhaps that certain games marketed as "cyberpunk" are not actually very cyberpunk -- what is cyberpunk, however, is the way the developers were overworked and probably underpaid as is the usual to rush out a broken release of yet another corporate AAA title1

so where to go if you are craving a game that delivers being actually both cyber and punk? imo, half life alyx counts as cyberpunk, and it is also my literal best game of all time but that's, y'know, half life
on the other hand, there is this tabletop RPG (disclaimer: i have never played actual tabletop RPGs lol) called shadowrun, and while many people complain about the 5th and sometimes 4th editions of this game there is also a series of digital singleplayer versions of the game, the most recent of which was produced by harebrained schemes called shadowrun: dragonfall2

to make a long story short i absolutely adore dragonfall. if you're unfamiliar with shadowrun, the basic premise is that in the future the world has developed magic while also being a typical cyberpunk dystopian hellscape with dark cities and megacorporations ruling the planet, and shadowrunners doing crimes and staying hidden in the shadows, but also magic and races of people besides humans (elves, orks, trolls, and dwarfs, collectively called metahumanity), and dragons. like typical RPGs, your character has attributes that determine skills in various areas like, strength, quickness, skills with various guns, magic, and of course decking (breaking into computer systems in the matrix) and rigging (controlling drones), among others

dragonfall puts the turn-based RPG system into a video game pretty effectively. you control a team of yourself (a fully customizable character) and your team, consisting of semi-NPCs which you can acquire limited upgrades for and control in combat, but who also have their own dialogue that they will say when you talk to them outside of missions. dragonfall is very much like a visual novel -- there are rich conversations to be had with pretty much every character, even side characters in your home base, and your decisions affect the progression of the story (there is, i don't think this is really a spoiler, a "bad end" which you can get yourself into only if you are egregiously morally bankrupt, which i should hope you aren't lol). but a lot of the decisions you have to make play on subtler moral decisions, and you're left at the end questioning whether you really made the right choices (or whether you really had a choice to begin with). the main part of the game is the missions, which have you break into various corporations and strongholds to advance the plot, with some fairly complex strategy needed in order to defeat the enemies in turn-based combat as you plan actions for your whole team at once. in between missions, you can interact with your safehouse, the kreuzbasar, which is an anarchist autonomous zone (with a pretty sick flag imo, it's a bear with a rifle) somewhere in the middle of berlin where you're able to accept new jobs and side quests and interact with all the NPCs, as well as purchase new equipment and upgrades

the really compelling thing about this game besides being a pretty chill way to experience what is kind of a fighting/action game at its core in a turn-based isometric 2.5D format (rather than, say, 3D FPS, which while i love to play FPS games too can definitely be more stressful and require more energy to play) is the really excellent music and artwork that goes into each environment. there are several mainline missions and several more side quests you can go on each with very detailed cyberpunk environments overlaid with a banger soundtrack that really makes this game a whole cyberpunk experience, the kind of plot-driven RPG where you can really immerse yourself in its universe like you're the protagonist in a film or a novel, with the sound and visuals to make it truly immersive (although, it is not VR!). that is really why i highly recommend this game, especially if recent developments in the cyberpunk media genre have left you a lot to be desired


it's called an AAA game because when you learn how it was made it makes you go AAA


there is more by harebrained schemes that came before, particularly shadowrun: hong kong so i will kind of be playing these in reverse order. hong kong is reportedly "not as good" as dragonfall but we'll see after i play it~