Last week the husband and I were looking for something to play together a bit different from our usual MMORPG stable. I happened to have Shadowrun Returns on my Steam account and had barely touched the game in the past so we setup my laptop connected to the TV and sat on the sofa to play it together in a “taking turns” manner.
It feels like a very old-school way of gaming, memories of taking turns to play single player RPGs or platformers on consoles and 16 bit computers (like the Atari ST) back in the 1980s springs to mind. Patience was definitely a virtue back then as multiplayer was rarer, especially if you wanted to play with more than one other person. This was especially true of computer RPGs, cooperative multiplayer support for that genre only really came into popularity with the many Baldur’s Gate style games in the 1990s. Even then some of the classic RPGs remained stalwart single player (e.g. Planescape: Torment) and personal computers were so eye-wateringly expensive that owning multiple computers for coop multiplayer wasn’t always possible.
So we’ve been delving into the first game in the series “Dead Man’s Switch”, playing as a Mage archetype. It’s a fun game for sure with an interesting story and good characterisation of various Seattle residents trying to survive the grim and dangerous future depicted in the Shadowrun RPG. This post is more about the style of gaming than the game itself – I’ll do a review at a later date if we play enough to get through the campaign.
Playing like this feels more relaxing in one sense since you’re not required to be always responding to real-time events. MMORPGs, even the non-action ones, do require a lot of activity if you’re doing something other than idle in a city. A turn-based game like this is a very different pace altogether since we often pause mid-conversation or even mid-fight to discuss what options or tactics are best. That level of thinking and discussion can be missing from MMORPGs – you may talk tactics before a boss fight or triggered event but during it’s not so easy to do anything other than react to the situation as it unfolds.
Although I’ve enjoyed playing this way for a change, I do have some mixed feelings about taking turns to control the game. At times I feel like I would prefer to have direct control over some of the ‘runners in the team so I can be more actively involved in the gameplay. But then it is very nice to be sat on a sofa and to spend more time thinking and talking about the game instead of mostly reacting to it.
Do you play ‘taking turns’ games with your significant other or friends? How would you compare it to MMORPG gaming?