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Shadowrun: Hong Kong

Shadowrun: Hong Kong - Extended Edition is the definitive version of Shadowrun: Hong Kong, the third standalone game in Harebrained Schemes’ critically-acclaimed Shadowrun cRPG series. This Extended Edition adds the all-new, 6+ hr Shadows of Hong Kong Bonus Campaign to the game as a free upgrade - delivering on a funding goal achieved by fans in Harebrained Schemes’ wildly successful Shadowrun: Hong Kong Kickstarter. The Extended Edition also adds audio commentary to the game, and a long list of improvements since the game’s initial launch - including new visual effects, updated dialogue, and new editor features (for User-Generated Content). HONG KONG. A stable and prosperous port of call in a sea of chaos, warfare, and political turmoil. The Hong Kong Free Enterprise Zone is a land of contradictions - it is one of the most successful centers of business in the Sixth World, and home to one of the world’s most dangerous sprawl sites.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

Love the Shadowrun series and the tabletop RPG. The trilogy that this game is a part of is amazing as a whole. Gameplay and character creation are intuitive and well-explained. Everything in this game works great. I just do not understand the hacking mechanic whatsoever! I'm just not a puzzle/math guy, I guess. I'm more of a magic/fighter/monk kind of player, myself but I love rogues and deckers are great equivalent to that class, but again the hacking mini-puzzle game just confuses the heck out of me! This game and the whole series is worth owning.

Review from Steam

Playing status: 100% achievement
Grindy Achievement(s): Yes.
Optional Achievement(s): Yes (54 achievements).
Difficult Achievement(s): No.
Intro
Shadowrun: Hong Kong - Extended Edition is the third installment of the Shadowrun trilogy, telling the story of a shadowrunner team in Hong Kong. It tries to combine the element between the first two titles while still trying to implement new additions on its own.
Pros:
- 3 difficulties
- 4 endings
- Freedom to clear the mission however you want, quiet or loud
- Build your character however you want
Cons:
- Sometimes the game has delays whenever you are hacking the matrix
- No subtitle for cinematic cutscenes
- Limited money
Specs
Intel Core i5-9300H 2.40GHz, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
Should you buy this game?
Yes.
If you like the Shadowrun games or simply looking for a turn-based strategy that has a heavy emphasis on the dialogue, buy this game.
In-Depth Review
Visuals
The game still has the same-looking visuals as its earlier predecessors: buildings full of neon lights, characters in a top-down view, and good-looking portraits will be what you will expect from the game. It also tries to incorporate people from different countries, which are portrayed differently by their facial features. Unlike the first two games, you won't always see big company buildings in your missions - slums and even ships will also be one of your destinations, making you see the other side of the spectrum.
Story
The game has a lot of dialogues at the beginning. You'll have to deal with a lot of unnecessary facts, whether it's news coverage, philosophy, or even history. To be honest, I got overwhelmed by all of them. I'm not someone who can stand reading heavy topics for a long time, and if you have played other Shadowrun games, you'll notice that their dialogue tends to be wordy without leaving any detail out. While I appreciate the approach, I feel that the dialogue can be chunked into tiny bits, especially with how it becomes later on.
There isn't much dialogue nearing the end of the game. Just like Dragonfall (my review), Hong Kong tries to let you bond with your neighbors, whether it's teammates or shop owners. Talking to them between missions will be required to know more about their story. However, the length of their story is kinda weird. There are a lot of topics to talk about at the first two visits, to the point that you have to spend 30+ minutes after a single run. You can even get more dialogues if you talk to a character several times. On the contrary, there aren't new dialogues near the end of the game.
The Game
Gameplay
If you have played other Shadowrun games, the game is basically the same. It's a turn-based strategy with a heavy emphasis on dialogue. You need to take on missions with 2-3 other people and finish the job that was given by your client. The game is more generous on the number of your teammates this time. Instead of having 3+1 teammates like in Dragonfall, you'll have 3+2 teammates, giving you more variations to your team.
You are free to build your character however you want. Just like other Shadowrun games, there are different types of professions in the game. Each character has their pros and cons, and since this game is generous with skill points, you can build your character to be specialized in 2-3 types. One noticeable change from the first two games lies in how rigger, drone user, works. The accuracy for their drone seems to be improved and more drone variations are being sold to the shop. I even wanted to play as a rigger because of it.
The game also gives you freedom in how to finish the missions. There are several ways to reach your objective, whether it's to use your charisma to smooth talk everyone, upgrade your security clearance in the matrix, or even use guns to kill everyone in your way. The latter one is always the easiest, but exploring everything without getting loud will usually give more rewards from the additional exploration. This also adds replayability if you want to play the mission with a different approach.
Money is limited. Unlike the first two games, you don't have a lot of money this time. I even had to save money to buy the best weapon because I know that I won't be able to afford it otherwise. At the end of the day, I still managed to get everything that I need with a little money to spare, but I'm not sure if I could afford the best gear if I play with other builds, especially shaman that requires disposable tokens to play.
Matrix
The other change that the game has lies in the matrix. If you are new to Shadowrun, the matrix is similar to the internet where you can explore and interact with a system, except that your mind will also be transported in the process. Decking, the term that is associated with going into the matrix, is divided into two types: exploration and hacking.
The exploration part requires you to be stealthy, exploring the area without being spotted by Watcher ICs. Being spotted will lead to battle which will increase your trace level, spawning Black ICs that can damage your body in real life after you reach a certain amount. To be honest, I don't like to play a stealth game with a mouse. It's hard to move my character with precision, making it easy to get spotted in a more difficult area. Luckily, the game gives a lot of leeways before your character is spotted by Black ICs. I only experienced it once at the beginning, and it's not even hard to defeat them in the first place.
The hacking part is a simple minigame that again, is divided into two parts. The first part is a memorization section where you need to memorize a series of number that is being shown. The second part, on the other hand, is way harder. There will be a series of symbols given at the top screen and you need to find the matching pattern at the bottom. This is my favorite part since it feels like I'm doing something to hack the system.
Length and Difficulty
The game is longer than the first two games. I finished the main game in 41.2h, spending an additional 1.2h to explore all 4 endings. There is also a bonus campaign that gives a little insight into one mystery and a conclusion to you and your team. I finished the bonus campaign in 9.5h, although I had to replay it to get one achievement.
As for the difficulty, the game offers 3 difficulties. I played in easy, and as someone who is bad at strategy games, I find it to be harder than the first two games. Some battles will require you to fight three-way battles while others require you to fight heavy-hitting enemies. Although I never used any items in the first two games, I had to use some revives in the difficult battles to get through.
Conclusion
Shadowrun: Hong Kong tries to blend some elements from the first two games. It has everything that you want from them, whether it's the turn-based strategy or the dialogue branching. I always like to explore my options whenever I played the game, trying to find how others react if I answer differently. Those who aren't familiar with the series might have difficulties understanding the in-game slang, but that can always be fixed with a bit of Googling.
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Review from Steam

Play Shadowrun Hong Kong! We've got the best party members:
- Socially Anxious Hacktivist
- Psychopathic Robot Dad
- "Actual Cannibal" Corporate Samurai
- Gay Ex-Cop Who Just Wants to Go Home
- Utterly Charming Health Code Violation
In all seriousness, out of all the CRPGs I've played, SR:HK may have the most likable main cast, with the exception of perhaps Planescape: Torment. Even if this game didn't have an excellent setting and great writing (it has both in spades), the way the characters banter and help each other grow is more than worth the price. They're a weird, broken, and incredibly messy cast of antiheroes, and that's what makes them so fun to root for.
P.S. I would die for Gobbet and Gaichu.

Review from Steam

great old school game. I wish there was more content, even though there is a LOT of content available.

Review from Steam

The writing in this game is impeccable. The conversations between characters add so much to the game and make this world and the people in it seem flawed and so, so, real. One of my favourite moments in this game is a random conversation between two characters. It’s entirely optional to partake in the conversation, but my god I’m glad I didn’t miss it. Incredible stuff.

Review from Steam

Pick Up On Sale
Aesthetically it's on par with the cyber punk atmosphere that Cyberpunk 2077 promised to offer. In fact, there are quite a few gameplay and narrative concepts that seem to be almost ripped straight from Shadowrun for CDPR's first person action adventure. Using a Body stat to build up cyber weapon effectiveness like monofilament whips, using hacking to cast spell-like support abilities on enemies, narrative backgrounds that a player can build into for unique dialogue options, having a neural implant give players a class of smart weapons, an overall emphasis on a cyber-enhanced street samurai, making the player character a mercenary in a future tech near dystopian urban environment for a criminal enterprise. Having this be my first experience with Shadowrun after having played Cyberpunk 2077 makes me think someone just played through a Shadowrun game and said "let's do this in third person and execute terribly."
So if you like that cyberpunk aesthetic, then definitely do yourself a favor and play Shadowrun, it'll scratch that itch.
Solid Mission Design
It's pretty easy to tell what you need to be doing and infer the intent of the game designers for pursuing different resolution options. It's pretty refreshing to be able to play the game on near auto-pilot because of how clearly conveyed all your mission objectives are. There were very few times I felt truly dumb founded or blind-sided by the mission scripting.
Characters Are Well-Crafted
The character designers have built sane, reasonable, relate-able characters. There are times when games write such jarring, disorienting, out of touch responses and dialogue flow that it takes the player out of the game experience. That kind of sloppy, what did I just read conversations aren't present here. Each character has a unique background, personality, set of goals, temperance, and changes dynamically to the scope of the situation. I skipped whole chunks of dialogue because it got to be a bit much for me at the end, but when I did slow down to digest the story it unfolded with as much precision and elegance of a well-thought-out novel.
Decking Sucks
I don't know what it is about game devs who put in so much time and effort making a core gameplay loop filled with robust primary and secondary systems that all work together... and then just deciding to throw a half-baked, minimally fleshed out mini-game in the middle of the game and forcing players to engage with it but it needs to stop. Apparently, based on various complaint threads around the internet, this game has a worse version of the Matrix than other Shadowrun iterations. I can't speak to those versions, but I can say I opened the cheat console and command killed everything in the forced decking session because it's such a weird departure from the fun otherwise found in the game. I don't want to spend 20+ hours building a finely crafted squad of Shadowrunners that work well as a unit, only to abandon that experience and skate around with a completely different kit of abilities in a game mode with a completely separate set of goals and rules. It just feels weird.
On that note, I despise being forced to take certain NPCs with me on missions. The devs should have given a required NPC a fifth slot to fill so my 4 person squad can be fielded at my discretion. There's a mission that requires you to field a decker and if you didn't build a decker, then you have to carry an otherwise worthless NPC with you just to fill that role.
Passive Skill Benefits Are Completely Random
There're a plethora of skill checks presented to the player whereby if you have the requisite skill / attribute level you can select certain dialogue options and achieve different outcomes. Unfortunately, it's impossible to tell what exactly a player will need to invest in to gain that kind of advantage. It's not as if every skill / attribute resolution is presented alongside each other with expected outcomes given to the character. You might need Charisma 3 on one mission and then Intelligence 5 the next mission with no seeming ability to anticipate where to invest your karma to actually leverage these checks. You might get lucky, you might get woefully unlucky and there are some missions where the consequences for failing to happen upon a character build that thread these attribute check needles are drastic. They really need to come up with a better way of conveying to players the risk / reward for trying to hit these skill / attribute checks because the amount of chance involved is too high.
Offensive Playstyle Balancing Is Complete Garbage
Just for the sake of experiencing the best of what the game had to offer on the final mission I cheated and gave myself all the karma and money I could want. I maxed out a character's stats completely, utilized a melee weapon, pistol, rifle, the minigun, a drone, and the best implants. I didn't do any of the conjuring, qi casting, unarmed, decking spells, or sorcery spells but I did use about half of the offensive options in the game on my main character with throwing weapons on an NPC.
There was no comparison between the melee, cyber, and ranged weapons. Rifles were by far and away the best option. Anytime I chose to use AP for options not involving the high-damage sniper rifles or full-auto rifle options, then I was failing. Drones were pretty good, but not nearly as versatile as rifle options. Shotguns and pistols did abysmally poor damage. The times I used SMGs on an NPC they performed similarly to pistols.
When I fought qi casters and unarmed enemies they did terribly.
The times I fought mages I nearly got wiped from their burst damage and then they were only useful as support characters while their burst damage spells were on cooldown.
I'm pretty sad that the devs failed to balance the offensive options because it just seems like laziness. The're only like 4-5 skills per attribute tree and most of them feel the same. You'll get an aimed shot, an AP damage, armor damage, and AoE damage ability. It would have been nice to see more variety that gave each of the weapon trees their own identity. It really seems like the best option is just to run rifles and spam full auto as often as possible.
Why not make all shotgun abilities deal AP damage from the sheer force of a buckshot hit? Pistols could have had no AP cost for moving + attacking in the same round, which is how melee works. Rifles being the go to source for single-target full-auto dumps work. Other than a lack of unique identities to the offensive options they simply don't do as much damage as a full-auto burst of a rifle.
I think upping the overall AP and making rifles take more AP per attack to convey the idea of smaller arms being more agile and lighter in the battlefield would have helped.
Surprisingly Short
Right about the time I started enjoying the game and working through runs it seemed to be over. I think there are 12 or so missions once you get out of the tutorial and they go by extremely quickly. There are a couple of optional runs if you go through the protracted dialogue trees of your companions. I don't understand why they spent so little on the missions. Each mission can be summed up by a couple of brief fights, a series of point and clicks, and some careful dialogue reading to determine what dialogue options you need to select to change your outcomes.
Aside from the annoying decking experience that I accepted I had to do to get through the rest of the game and aside from the huge power imbalances of offensive options, the overall brevity of the game seemed to be the most disappointing.
I don't think I'll pay full price for another Shadowrun game after how short this one was. I'd get more value out of an older Fire Emblem playthrough.

Review from Steam

Fantastic game, extremely well written! I loved the characters and their stories were comeplling while also fitting it very nicely with the overall plotline. Even characters one might not expect to have depth at all; such as store NPCs were very developed and oftentimes helpful in ways one might not expect. I've loved every one of the new Shadowrun games and I can only hope Hairbrained chooses to make more in the future; I'll have my nuyen waiting if they do.