In the end, Dragonfall is a more complete and sophisticated version of last year’s Shadowrun Returns. The new campaign setting is utterly compelling, the writing is some of the industry’s finest with astounding prose and character development and the added content simply equates to an experience that is only rivaled by the genre’s best. The fundamental gameplay is still the same, though that should be viewed as a glowing endorsement of the already refined mechanics presented in the game’s predecessor. Having said that, this isn’t a flawless experience; the various bugs and glitches, in addition to limited graphics engine, means there are some hiccups along the way. In truth, though, these hitches are somewhat marginal when juxtaposed with everything else that the game does right. Harebrained Schemes has proven here that they are far more than a one-hit wonder, clearly demonstrating that the success of Returns was anything but mere happenstance. This is a developer that understands and loves their source material, which very evidently comes out in their work. Consequently, Shadowrun: Dragonfall is another home run for the up-and-coming studio.
Shadowun: Dragonfall might offer players another fix of its cool cyberpunk-meets-magic RPG formula but it doesn’t try to offer them anything deeper than that. Despite it improving upon the level design and storytelling of its predecessor, Dragonfall fails to improve upon the gameplay surrounding those elements. It pushes the boundaries of the game’s engine yet fails to produce anything truly substantial and unless your love of Shadowrun’s rich universe can overlook these shortcomings, there’s nothing special here.
If you do not already own the base game, Shadowrun Returns, Shadowrun: Dragonfall will set you back $35 ($20 for the base game and $15 for the DLC). The DLC is basically a whole second game, though, with a campaign that took a comparable amount of time to the original. It's not a first-person game with great cinematic views and cut scenes like Mass Effect, but it also isn't $60. For $15, Shadowrun Returns is more than enough game. Minor technical difficulties aside, this DLC will serve to be a memorable playthrough for RPG fans.
Jacking back into Shadowrun Returns for the new Dragonfall campaign, I thought I was ready for anything. In a post-magipocalypse future where trenchcoated, wizardly elves cast shield spells on hacker allies while orcs with machine guns shower them with lead, it pays to be prepared. Dragonfall managed to get the drop on me, though. I wasn’t expecting one of the most memorable and complex RPG stories of the decade.
If you have no interest in Shadowrun returns or the nerdy wares of cyberpunk storystelling, this expansion isn't going to change your mind. However, if you enjoy old-school point-and-click RPGs from the yesteryears of gaming, with an ample helping of textual cyber-talk and futuristic fantasy elements, Dragonfall definitely starts off on a better track (and in a better way) than the original Dead Man's Switch.