Top Critic Average
Just as in the previous story, Dragonfall consumed my imagination for the whole time I was playing it. When it was done, I missed the characters and wanted it to continue. That is perhaps the ultimate sign of a well-told story. As a game, it's pretty good – balanced, challenging combat that calls for a variety of tactics to respond to different situations; viable paths for combat fans, mages and even charisma-junkies; plenty of relevant activities to keep the player engaged during non-combat 'downtime'. But as a story – a piece of interactive fiction that takes a substantial corpus of existing source material and spins an engrossing yarn about power, betrayal, revenge, duty, family and loyalty – it is a supreme work.
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.
Shadowrun: Dragonfall doesn't drastically change the mechanics or systems that were introduced in the main game, which is slightly disappointing as there could have been improvements made but the addition of the new save system is a big relief. The writing and story remains the same high quality from the main game and feels a bit more cohesive from Dead Man's Switch; that story took a lot of twists and turns but Dragonfall feels more focused by giving you a personal connection right from the start. If you enjoyed your first taste of Shadowrun, then Dragonfall should be an immediate purchase.
If you're new to Shadowrun Returns, skip the initial release and start with Dragonfall Director's Cut. Nearly every aspect of the Dragonfall campaign is superior to Dead Man's Switch, and there's far more to be excited about than afraid of. When backers were so eager to offer their support for Harebrained Schemes' Kickstarter campaign, Dragonfall Director's Cut is the game that made the investments pay off.
For players who may never had heard of Shadowrun, Dragonfall is a firm introduction to what the world is all about. In many ways, it finally fulfills the promise of a real sequel. It won't brutalize players who are new to tactical gaming, and it won't stop veterans cold, but Dragonfall does an awesome job of translating Shadowrun's world into a digital battlefield fraught with shady choices.
Unfortunately, as DLC, if you didn't buy Shadowrun Returns originally you have to do so now to play Dragonfall - effectively doubling the price. It would be much easier to recommend as a standalone expansion - both as a marked improvement on the original campaign and a refreshing break from the genre's usual fantasy worlds. It still stands as those things if you're willing to take the plunge, though, as well as being an excellent reason to give Shadowrun Returns and its community a second look.
An expansion that improves on almost every aspect of the original, fixing obvious flaws and adding a much greater sense of variety to what is now one of the best retro role-players around.
Dragonfall is limited by the mediocre game it was an expansion of, but still manages to build a more interesting narrative with better characters. The overarching missions structure has improved, the way you complete these missions has become more varied. Dragonfall may wear the skin of Shadowrun Returns, but underneath it's a far superior game.