After the Awakening, magic has been re-discovered, and human beings have accepted the existence of those they thought to be fantasy creatures. Mega-corporations and cyberworlds had to give space to elves and Native American shamans. Jake Armitage was a seemingly ordinary data courier, assassinated by a hit squad in the year 2050 in Seattle, Washington. Miraculously, his true story began after his death. A mysterious figure approached Jake and cast a spell on him; after that, he woke up in the morgue.
Jake doesn’t know what happened to him, he doesn’t even remember his own name. He is contacted by a shamanistic Dog totem with a cryptic message about his mission. Wandering through the large city where monorails, computers, and street gangs armed with automatic weapons co-exist with orcs, dwarves, and vampires, he begins to unravel the mystery, gradually learning about dangers awaiting him around every corner, and his own past.
Shadowrun is based on the pen-and-paper role-playing game of the same name, more specifically on the novel Never Deal with a Dragon by Robert Charrette. It is entirely different from the Genesis adaptation of the same license. The game is a skill-based RPG with action-oriented combat. Most of the time Jake uses firearms; he can also learn magic spells, primarily with defensive and support capabilities. The player can hire “deckers”, temporary party members who can aid Jake in battles, and to whom the player can assign basic commands or let them be controlled by the AI.
Karma points are awarded to the player for successfully eliminating enemies. These act like experience points in other RPGs and can be manually distributed by the player. The player can increase the character’s basic parameters (such as hit points or charisma), as well as have him master various skills. These include firearms, computers, negotiation, leadership, and others.
Jake can also use his cyberdeck to access cyberspace known as the Matrix, for plot-related purposes or in order to obtain money. Represented by an icon, Jake moves through the cyberspace, fighting programs that protect data from intruders. Jake’s success in these endeavours largely depends on his computer skill.
Dialogue with non-playable characters plays an important role. Most quests involve Jake exploring various locations in Seattle and gathering information from people. Conversations are topic-based; often it is necessary to learn about a particular topic from a specific character and then choose it in a conversation with another one to obtain the necessary information.