If it's crap ... We'll tell you
With under a day left on their kickstarter drive, http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1613260297/shadowrun-returns , I am really excited about the Shadowrun Returns game. I would like to discuss how the Sega game changed me and my view of games forever.
Before renting, and then eventually buying the game 3 times from it being lost and stolen, I had played and watched people play RPGs and enjoyed them. Watching friends play Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, playing Phantasy Star and some of the NES Final Fantasy games myself, I liked the idea of being a weak orphan and through quests and adventures becoming the savior of the world just as all the prophecies had foretold. Starting as a runt that has trouble beating up 3 weak slimes to a slayer of demons as old as time itself was neat, but somethings never felt right. Why was it always up to me to save the world? If I was destined to be the savior as the prophecies proclaimed, why was I not trained up from a much younger age? Why was I not given the greatest equipment the world knows of before I get going? Why was I not accompanied by the greatest and bravest of soldiers, magicians, and healers of the world? Why did the King beg me to go on this quest and not send reinforcements or other people after me? In Fallout 2, they make fun of this calling you the Chosen One at the start of the game, and when you go through the beginning temple, you see former Chosen Ones that did not survive the tests. Surely, the survival of the world was more important than trusting an ancient prophecy and any ruler of any kind would do all they could to ensure the survival of their people. Also, every house, every box, every NPC was there in the world to cater to the PC, sure take everything I have in this house, sleep in my bed, too. They did not know you were the hero of the whole world, but treated you like it anyway. Help my kitchen is on fire, don't do anything and come back 5 days later, Help my kitchen is on fire! Everything in the world is content for the PC to do and is stagnate until the PC shows up and does it. In a very Truman Show way, the world revolves around you and stops when you aren't there. Once noticing this, the facade was always visible, I could never go back to believing in these worlds, they just broke to many rules to feel alive.
Then, Shadowrun happened. The game opens up and gives you the story that is set up for you. You are not destined to save the world. You are flying into Seattle to find out why and how your brother died. He was a runner, and a pretty good one. For him to die on a run while still in his prime, something did not seem right, he was always prepared, over-prepared even. Something went wrong and so very wrong that he could not have imagined the trouble he was getting into on this run. Without you, the reasons of his death would never be known, but the world would go on just as it did before. You come to Seattle not looking to save the world or even change it, you just want answers and to bring the guilty party to justice.
The world of Shadowrun is alive. Stuff happened before you got there and keeps on happening, the world doesn't stop for you. You can go on as many little runs to earn money and this games version of XP as you want. You can carve out a new life for you as a hacker selling info you steal off of the matrix, or as runner specializing in escorting corp wage slaves out of their current employer's grasp and into another corp, break into a high security R&D Lab to steal the prototype of something that someone is willing to pay very well to get. That is why I keep coming back to play this game and have sunk so many hours into it. It lives and breathes, you can run into crazy people on the street, undercover Lone Star trying to sell illegal goods, pimps becoming too heavy handed with their bitches, gangs engaged in a street fight, armed gunmen mistaking you for someone else, or are they actually hunting for you, and so much more. They created a world and you are but one of many people in it and the world goes on with or without you.
Instead of creating an interactive book where you just go along for the ride, they gave you a world to go and do and explore and choose for yourself what you wanted to accomplish. It was sandbox before there was a term for it and it forever changed my view on what games can do and provide a gamer. That is why I cherish Shadowrun and am supporting Shadowrun Returns.