Why I’m not going to play Shadowrun Returns (yet)

Why I’m not going to play Shadowrun Returns (yet)

The release of Shadowrun Returns snuck up on me, and I found myself in the neat position of getting to read reviews for a brand new game I had yet to play. I used to enjoy some light pen and paper Shadowrun games in high school, as well as the SNES title, and the idea of returning to that world was incredibly attractive.

And the reviews were mostly positive, but then I read one section of the Polygon review that stayed my hand as I reached for the “buy” button. I’ll quote at length:

The lack of healing options shines a particularly unforgiving light on Shadowrun Returns' save system. During combat sequences — which can often stretch for as long as 15-20 minutes of turn-based life or death — it's game over if your character goes down, which throws you back to the last autosave. There's no manual saving in Shadowrun Returns anywhere in the game, whether you're in combat or back home. More than once I spent twenty or thirty minutes between missions tweaking my character, talking to NPCs gathering information and generally preparing myself for the next step only to realize that I couldn't save. It's a weird “screw you” to the idea of experimentation in almost every area of the game, because experimenting could cost you half an hour or more of time as you try to roll back the changes you made. It's a bizarre, borderline-unacceptable omission in 2013.

And… I’m out. I’m like many adult gamers in that it’s not too difficult to find the money for games, but finding the time to play them is an ongoing challenge, and this stuff is my job!

The idea that I could lose large chunks of progression due to an anachronistic save system is simply intolerable to me, and it’s enough to keep me from buying and playing the game. There is nothing I like less than replaying a section of a game due to an issue with the save system, especially when it comes to role-playing games.

Maybe I'm being unreasonable, but games aren't like other forms of entertainment. I can suffer through a two hour movie just to get some background information on the director or an actor, but a bad save system will stick in your craw during the entirety of what could be a massive, multi-day experience.

It's possible this is the sort of thing that's fixed with a patch, and I hope it is. I love this world, and would love to spend some time there. Knowing that the save system is busted, though? I'd rather not even open the door.