Shadowrun: Hong Kong is a story rich RPG that includes turn based combat, some slight stealth when hacking computers, and some puzzles.
The first order of business in the game is to create your character. Gender doesn’t affect anything gameplay wise except for dialogue at times, race determines your starting stats and the limits of growing those stats, and assigning karma points to your skills. A starting class can be chosen, but this just allocates your stats at first instead of locking you into only one role. As you play through the game, additional karma can be acquired through completing missions and completing optional tasks while on those missions.
Most of the game will be spent in a hub, where there are many characters to talk to, shops to buy and sell items and equipment at, and your base of operations where you can manage everything.
Embarking on a mission lets you select which party members you want to take with you, as you can’t bring everyone, and choosing which equipment and items to bring. The way that you complete missions depends on your play style and where you have allocated karma points, but most missions will usually have you exploring the level, talking to people, and either engaging in combat or finding ways to prevent combat from happening.
Most missions will have a datajack that allows a party member with the decker skill to enter the matrix. While inside of a matrix, you will be stealthily sneaking around sensors and hacking into blockades that hold important information. Being spotted or failing hacks will cause the alarm level of the network to increase and if it gets too high, lots of enemies will start attacking you. Hacking a blockade just requires you to choose the correct sequence of shapes before time runs out, while an optional memory game can be played to increase the amount of time you have to choose the right sequence.
Combat is turn based and it takes place in the game world instead of another screen. There isn’t much complexity to it, as allies and enemies take turns moving in and out of cover, taking shots at each other, and using abilities or items when the situation calls for it.
No mechanical skill is required to play the game, as combat is turn based and the dialogue doesn’t have difficulty of any kind. How you spend karma on your character can make the game easier or harder, but the difficulty options setting can easily balance out a poorly designed character. Except for a few areas of the game, you can save at any time so you can easily enjoy the game if you can’t play for long periods. Turning the game difficulty up and designing your character certain ways can make the game more of a challenge for you, but there isn’t really anything hardcore about the game.
Doing as much content possible in one playthrough and reading most of the text will take you around 20 hours to complete the game, but a single playthrough can be done much faster if you do less optional stuff and skip all the text. There is a good amount of replayability as you can design future characters much differently and make different choices throughout the game, such as killing a character you didn’t before.
The options menu is simple and has all of the basics such as graphical options, volume, and a few gameplay settings such as difficulty and text speed. The graphics are very colorful and run well for the most part, but many times there are stutters and the frame rate can drop for a period of time. There are very few sound effects and almost no voice acting except for the scarce cut scenes, but there is a good selection of music that plays depending on where you are and whether or not you’re in combat.
Even in the third installment of the Shadowrun games, the controls for moving around still could be improved some. Moving around normally is no problem, but clicking on interactable objects and people can be a pain sometimes, and during combat it always feels like you’re going to issue the wrong command to a character.
Shadowrun: Hong Kong is the third modern game in the series that I have played, and the best way to compare them to each other is that Hong Kong and Dragonfall are essentially the same except for different stories and slight differences in gameplay mechanics, and both are much better than Shadowrun Returns. RPGs are always fun games to play and the Shadowrun games are good, but there is one thing about them all that prevents them from being completely enjoyable. The story part of these games are a bigger focus than the gameplay aspect of the game, meaning that you will be spending the majority of the time talking to people and reading lots of text, instead of running around exploring and engaging in combat. It is possible to just skip through text and fighting everyone that you can, but this will cut down on the length of the game by a ton. Having a large story and lots of text isn’t bad game design, it just isn’t for everyone.
Shadowrun: Hong Kong costs 20 dollars for just the game, 30 dollars for the deluxe edition, and a 10 dollar upgrade to the deluxe edition if you previously only bought the standard edition. The deluxe edition includes the game along with the full soundtrack and a PDF filled with concept and production art that was used to make the game. If you were a fan of the previous Shadowrun entries in the series or prefer games that involve a lot of story and reading more so than actual gameplay, the Hong Kong installment is worth buying. The only reason that you might not enjoy the game is if you are looking for a lot of gameplay and combat, as reading what other characters have to say is what you will be spending most of your time doing.