Shadowrun is a sci-fi cyberpunk franchise that initially started out as a tabletop role-playing game back in 1989. Since its inception, it has become one of the most revered institutions within the role-playing genre and has spawned multiple video games, among other things.
In fact, there have been 8 Shadowrun video games in total. The first was released back in 1993 for the SNES, whereas the most recent (read about Shadowrun: Hong Kong here), was released in 2015 for the PC. But what is the best order to play the Shadowrun games? We discuss this in the article.
What is the first Shadowrun game?
The first Shadowrun game was released in 1993 for the SNES and was developed by the Australian game company Beam Software (now Krome Studios Melbourne).
It was based on the Shadowrun novel Never Deal with a Dragon and follows the story of Jake Armitage. Armitage tries to rediscover his identity after an assination attempt leaves him with amnesia.
The first game of the Harebrained Schemes era of Shadowrun (Shadowrun Returns) is loosely based on the stories of the 1993 entry for the SNES and the 1994 game for the Sega Genesis, also called Shadowrun.
What is the best order to play the Shadowrun games?
If you want to become completely immersed in the Shadowrun lore, you could play all of the games in chronological order and not run into any continuity problems. I wouldn’t recommend doing this, though, as the older games might prove to be a bit of a slog, despite being great games for their era.
I also wouldn’t start with the 2007 entry for the Xbox 360. The game was decent, but it didn’t really contribute as much as it could have to the series.
Personally, whether you are new to the series or not, I would play the games from Shadowrun Returns onwards in the order of release, skipping Boston Lockdown as it is multiplayer only. This would mean playing Returns, Dragonfall, and Hong Kong – all developed by Harebrained Schemes.
This order is not necessarily recommended because the stories are so intricately linked, but rather because the gameplay gets progressively better. The games do cross reference each other, but they can easily be played independently. However, once you’ve played Hong Kong, you may find it difficult to go back and play Returns – despite being a phenomenal game, it’s not as user friendly as either Dragonfall or Hong Kong.
Which is the best Shadowrun?
This nicely leads on to the final point, which of the Shadowrun games is the best? For this point I will only consider the three games outlined previously, released by Harebrained Schemes.
In terms of the story, each of them are a contender for the best game of the series. A lot of people would say that Dragonfall edges it as the best. Personally, I think that Hong Kong is the best game so far. The characters are well written, the visuals are better (in my opinion) than the previous games, and the story takes some interesting routes that will keep you gripped throughout.
That being said, I would highly recommend playing the tabletop and card game versions of Shadowrun. If you enjoyed the lore and the futuristic setting of the video games, there is so much to get immersed with in the other formats, too. You can check out the Shadowrun subreddit community for more information.
How long are the Shadowrun games?
You’ll certainly have a lot to be getting on with whichever game you choose to try first.
Shadowrun Returns will take you between 10 and 20 hours to complete, whereas both Shadowrun: Dragonfall and Shadowrun: Hong Kong usually take around 20 to 30 hours to complete.
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Check out the full Shadowrun SNES gameplay below.