Shadowrun Trilogy brings three excellent turn-based tactical RPGs to the Nintendo Switch, with the blend of cyberpunk and fantasy giving the series a unique presence that certainly helped it stand out on PC. It has a fanbase far and wide and rightfully so, with each title’s deep narrative, intriguing world, and solid combat ticking all of the right boxes for fans of the genre.

It’s a shame then that the Nintendo Switch ports have a few issues. Whilst I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have fun playing the games on the console, some technical issues did sour the experience when compared to other platforms.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Shadowrun Trilogy packages three games together: Shadowrun Returns, Shadowrun Dragonfall (Director’s Cut), and Shadowrun Hong Kong (Extended Edition). For the most part, players will find a sense of familiarity between the three – whilst Shadownrun Dragonfall and Shadowrun Hong Kong do introduce some new ideas and innovations, core mechanics such as exploration, combat, and story progression remain the same. If you enjoy one of the games, you’re very likely to enjoy the other releases too.

And believe me, there really is plenty to enjoy about each game. Taking place in the universe of the table-top RPG Shadowrun, each game delivers a gripping story that sees players taking on the role of a Shadowrunner (think someone who can get *any* sketchy job done without their presence being known) as they make ends meet in a world that blends together cyberpunk and magic in an enthralling fashion. You’ll complete quests, battles enemies in frantic but strategic showdowns, and makes choices that shape how the story plays out, with plenty of twists-and-turns to be found throughout your adventure.

It is worth noting that there’s a LOT of reading to be done though, with Shadowrun Trilogy a text-heavy experience. There’s no voice acting either, so you’ll have no choice but to get those reading glasses on if you want to get stuck into the story. Luckily, some brilliant writing that captures the tone of the world perfectly and the intriguing plot of each game offer more than enough to keep players invested, whilst the text is also clear when playing on the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode. It’s always nice not to have to squint to make words out on the console, right?

“One of my favourite things about combat is the way that it blends together sci-fi and fantasy elements.”

Combat will feel familiar to anyone who has played a turn-based tactical RPG before, with the best point of comparison being the X-COM series. Working on a tiled-grid, players will move their party members around the battlefield, try to keep them in cover, and then perform actions to attack enemies, set traps, or buff up their allies. With multiple classes on offer that bring with them a variety of strengths, weaknesses, and specialist abilities, there’s a lot to play around with to ensure each showdown has plenty of strategic nuance. It’s very streamlined and the game doesn’t try to overcomplicate its combat mechanics, but it still offers plenty of depth to ensure that battles are compelling and bring with them multiple routes to victory.

One of my favourite things about combat is the way that it blends together sci-fi and fantasy elements. Whilst you’re in a cyberpunk world, magic is very prominent and plays a big role in the actions you have at your disposal – whether that’s when harnessing the elements to damage foes or instead strengthen your allies’ stats. That’s not to say that the game’s futuristic elements aren’t just as significant, with players able to jack into the Matrix (a cyberspace environment) to battle enemies or interfere with the real world. This changes things up completely by introducing new combat mechanics built around utilising Programs and ESPs to attack, whilst Shadowrun Hong Kong also introduces stealth-like elements and a hacking mini-game within the cyberspace environment. Utilising both elements is really cool in-game, and whilst I’ll admit that some aspects of the Matrix can get a little tiresome when battling across the real and cyber world at the same time, it’s super satisfying when you’re able to use both effectively to gain the upper hand over your foes.

With your own protagonist that you’re able to customise from the start with varying races and classes (including the Street Samurai which acts as a warrior of sorts, a Mage which focuses on magic, and a Decker that’s especially effective in the Matrix), a wide array of party members to join you on your journey, an upgrade system that lets you fine-tune every aspect of your character’s playstyle, and three sizable adventures to embark on (Shadownrun Dragonfall and Shadowrun Hong Kong are substantially larger than Shadowrun Returns), there’s PLENTY to get stuck into in Shadownrun Trilogy. It ticks all of the right boxes for this sort of RPG really, with the storytelling, world design, and quest variety proving engaging throughout. It’s the sort of world that’s great to be a part of and that you’ll want to learn more about, with each beat of the narrative absorbing players more and more into the story.

Check out some screenshots down below:

If I haven’t made it clear, I’ve got a lot of love for Shadowrun Trilogy. I’m happy to report that the controls feel slick on a controller too, with menus easy to navigate and commands simple to issue. There was never a big emphasis placed on perusing menus in the PC release anyway, so Nintendo Switch players won’t feel overwhelmed by the lack of keyboard and mouse.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always fare quite so well on the technical side of things. I noticed a fair bit of frame stuttering (some of which occurs when simply issuing commands to your characters in battle), and whilst there was nothing drastic, it did occur on a regular enough basis to be noticeable. I also suffered from a few crashes, though there was no real consistency to what made them occur… they just happened. I also had the audio cut out on me on a few occasions, whilst the lengthy load times felt rough when compared to playing the game on other consoles.

Shadowrun Trilogy is certainly playable on the Nintendo Switch and a lot of the issues aren’t game-breaking by any means, but it did run significantly better on other consoles. Normally, I wouldn’t be so hard on it, but these games are pretty old now and there’s no reason that they shouldn’t be able to run flawlessly. It’s more underwhelming than disappointing, but it did deter from what is otherwise a sublime selection of games.

Shadowrun Trilogy Review

Shadowrun Trilogy offers a trio of brilliant tactical RPGs to play, but their performance on the Nintendo Switch was a little bit underwhelming. Whilst it’s definitely possible to enjoy the games on Nintendo’s console, I didn’t expect to see the likes of stuttering frame rates or random crashes – two things that don’t occur on other platforms.

Despite this, I still enjoyed playing the games on the Nintendo Switch, whilst the robust controls and smooth visuals ensured it was ideal to play handheld too. Let’s just hope an effort is made to fix some of the game’s issues in the coming weeks.

Developer: Paradox Interactive, Harebrained Schemes, Codeglue
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC