After a conversation with Wayne, I am now playing Shadowrun: Dragonfall after nearly a year of owning it on Steam but never playing it. I bought the original Shadowrun Returns on Steam nearly three years ago now, and I loved the hell out of it. It was a cool blend of gritty futurism, sci-fi and fantasy that instantly drew me in, and I finished it quickly.
I’ve written before how I don’t really play games anymore, but Dragonfall has drawn me in for a couple of reasons. When I view any text, I have a descending order of the things that are important to me: Narrative ➡ Characters ➡ Action. Dragonfall excels at the first two more than the original did1, while still maintaining the tight, fun turn-based RPG combat system, but another thing it also does well is little details in the environment.
In the original Returns2 your in between missions haunt was a bar that doubled as a Shadowrunner base. It was fun and interesting, but at the end of the day, that’s all there was to it. There was no exploring or anything that made the world outside the bar, aside from the missions, seem real.
Meanwhile, in Dragonfall you can move around outside your main base, a renovated shop into a small part of Berlin, now known as the Flux State. And this is what I love mostly about Dragonfall as opposed to the original, this little corner of Berlin makes the game feel much more alive and real that Returns did. In between missions you can talk to the people in your team, and regular people on the street. Slowly you learn more about these people and their background, their desires and their goals.
Or, you can go to the coffee shop and order coffee.
It has no purpose. You lose 5 Nuyen (The currency) for buying some Soykaf, and then that’s it. There is no stat advantage on the next missions, you don’t get a caffeine hit or anything useful, you can just buy coffee.
On the bottom left corner of the map, you can tip a dancer who is always there. There is no reason to tip this dancer, but I do every damn time I’m in Berlin. Just because.
And you get a dog. Why do you get a dog? Because dog. If you talk to this dog it will follow it around. For the post part, it is simply following you around because dog.
Of course, useless additions? You could argue that. But also in maps, on missions there are useless little rooms, like this one:
This mission takes place in an orphanage, but of course being Shadowrun this is not a nice place, however soothing the music may be. There is a bathroom, and there is nothing in this bathroom, except it builds the world. The area is not to fight in. It is simply an area to add to the overall detail of the game.
And I love it for it.