Shadowrun Returns was released on the PC over the summer, and we gave it a positive review. Since most of my days are spent on my iPad, I wanted to see if the game's futuristic Seattle landscape held up. Set in 2054, the turn based combat style RPG is essentially a sci-fi fantasy enigma wrapped within another enigma, but does the mystery hold up for a tablet experience?

The first detail to leap out to me is, unfortunately, the app's $9.99 price tag. Since much of my conversion to iPad gaming stems for the desire to save a bit of money, shelling out nearly ten bucks for a touch and tap title wasn't my idea of a great first impression.

But first impressions aren't the whole story, and if you passionately crave a first rate narrative that, in its truest sense, exists as a hard boiled murder mystery, then gather up your dollars and download this app. Other titles on the iPad may visually dazzle you with retina-eye display driven graphics, and even other apps will thrill you with the visceral feel of its combat mechanic. Although Shadowrun Returns isn't a frontrunner in either category, its sheer goal is to immerse you into its universe.

My obsession with Shadowrun Returns began immediately within the first few minutes, as you're given a chance to choose from an array of different races (dwarves, orcs, trolls, humans, and elves). After the selection, you are introduced to your character who is living in a squalid apartment with no prospects whatsoever. That is, until a former friend sends a video call asking you to find his killer.

Sam was a complete hedonist and his own worst enemy, but years ago you and him had each other's back in a pretty intense firefight. The first battle of Shadowrun Returns is a flashback to that incident, and it's a film noir-esque aesthetic that runs throughout the game. Much of Shadowrun Returns has your anti-hero exploring all the deep and dark corners of the Seattle streets. Whether it's talking to derelicts who are too hopped up on drugs to care, or bribing cops at a crime scene to get more information, every action pretty much reeks of compromise. RPG enthusiasts who love a healthy amount of dialogue mixed in with their action won't be disappointed. I love talking away during Shadowrun Returns, especially if all that chatting gets me a handful of nuyen to spend on some kick ass wares.

One of the game's best aspects lies in customization. If you want to purchase grenades, learn a few spells, or even snap up a top of the line machine gun, the level of weaponry and combat styles in Shadowrun Returns goes pretty deep. Since it's a turn based fighting style, the actual fighting isn't entirely sophisticated, but fans who grew up or have grown to love this type of exchange should be completely fine with the game's battles.

Shadowrun Returns may offer hours of game play but don't expect an open world journey, as the objectives are set forth in a linear fashion. Since the storyline, which has players attempting to find a serial killer who vivisects his victims for their organs, still has me in its grip, I'm more than fine with letting the narrative lead my actions. Plus, within each section of Seattle you traverse, there are tons of areas to explore and find clues. So in this case, a straight ahead RPG tale doesn't feel constricting.

I do wish there were save points within each level, since you can play a ton of minutes on a certain stage and realize your decisions are leading you past the point of no return. Instead of establishing a save point to before you made that erroneous move, the only choice is to actually restart the level. Again, it's a minor complaint in an otherwise first rate RPG, and this flaw won't keep me off my iPad anytime soon.

Shadowrun Returns is an inspired blend of science fiction, fantasy, and film noir, giving gamers an intricate mystery to investigate. It may cost a pretty penny, but if you need hours of alone time with your iPad, this app should definitely do the trick, especially if you're in a Seattle state of mind.


App Store Link: Shadowrun Returns for iPad | By Harebrained Schemes LLC | Price: $9.99 | Version: 1.0.5 | 351 MB | Rating: 17+

8.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating