All right, chummers. Listen up. I’ve got some news for you from the Shadowlands BBS. It’s about a new group of ‘runners being supported by the triads out of Heoi. Some crazy stuff is going down out there and it’s my job to give you the deets. The Walled City, as it’s called, has been a miserable slum for decades and there are rumors that something nasty is moving in. But, that’s just what I heard through the grapevine. I didn’t personally live it.
Okay, flowery introduction aside, this review is about the latest in the ever growing stable of Shadowrun games being developed by Harebrained Schemes. Let me introduce you to Shadowrun: Hong Kong, a game that’s most certainly worth playing if you’re into the whole Cyberpunk scene. You and your childhood friend Duncan Wu have heard from your “adoptive father” Raymond to go see him in Hong Kong where you’re promptly ambushed by an unseen assailant and the survivors are forced to literally go underground and meet up with the local Yellow Lotus triad leader who promises to erase your entire identities if you’re willing to work for her as a Shadowrunner. And so the game begins.
Shadowrun: Hong Kong plays pretty much like Shadowrun Returns and Dragonfall, so if you’ve played either of those you’ll know what to expect. The Matrix, though, has been revamped and I have to say that it was a much needed improvement and I enjoyed jacking into the Matrix. The added minigame of breaking through barriers was a great touch, although I wasn’t particularly suited to the “Simon Says” approach. I ended up brute forcing my way through a lot of my hacking attempts.
So, what can you do in Shadowrun: Hong Kong? The question should be what can’t you do? You can play pretty much any class from the pen and paper RPG and mix and match skills. You do get a pretty good amount of points to spend by the end game so almost anything is feasible. Especially when you can take up to three other ‘runners with you. Just like the other games I reimagined my roleplaying character in digital format. She was a decker/rigger combo, and for the most part it worked. Thankfully I had the foresight to bring along the big guns as backup just in case I needed it.
I also really love that you can play the game however you want to. Want to go in guns blazing and just killing everything you see? Go right ahead. Dump points into Body and your combat skill of choice. Want a more social approach and try to talk your way out of a situation? Do what I did and focus on Charisma with whatever you need to supplement it. Combat is sometimes unavaoidable so do try to get some levels that help out. Such as going in with a couple drones following you like I did.
The story for Shadowrun: Hong Kong isn’t bad. It does delve deep into the area’s subculture and focuses a little too much on supernatural forces, but with it being the Sixth World and that we’re surrounded by previously mythical beings it does fit in well. While not quite as epic as Dragonfall it does play out much more fluid than Shadowrun Returns. Even so, it’s worth playing if you’re a fan of the lore.