I’m never really sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but most of you will probably gather that I love any video game with excessive violence, so when it comes to things like Assassin’s Creed and (in this case) Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, I’m already pretty interested in what will happen. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what the games are like, as long as I can mutilate my enemies in the most sadistic way possible. Fortunately, the friendly people at Invision Community don’t disown me for my problems, in fact they encourage me to shine through the wonderful world of light and happiness as the dark demonic monster that I truly am!
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is currently within it’s beta period at the moment, but that’s not to say that the game doesn’t already have a fantastic head start. The game is due to be released on 6th December on PC, Mac and Linux operating systems and is scheduled to hit PS4 and Xbox One consoles in 2017. The game is a stealth based, tactical RPG assassination game which is designed by Mimimi Productions and published by Daedalic Entertainment. It’s set in the feudal Japan era, so expect to see lots of samurai swords, gunpowder barrels and ninja blades (How baddass is that?!)
As soon as you start the game, the music, the graphics and the atmosphere screams out that this is a stealth game. The opening screen music sets the tone of the game within seconds, soft chimes, sneaky type music, so I’m already pretty excited right away.
Upon “actually” starting the game you’ll be introduced to Hayato, who is planning to infiltrate Osaka Castle. Hayato shows you around the location so you can get a good view and understanding of where to be sneaky and where you can skip around like a schoolgirl. He’s taken the liberty of slaughtering the first guard and hiding him for you, but now it’s your turn.
Before long you’ll have Hayato scaling the mountainous areas of Osaka Castle and making his way through the walls. The game does a really good job of explain what buttons do what, but I’d suggest you probably change them around a little bit as they can be a tad confusing. After a brief swap and a bit of sweet ninja mountain scaling, you’ll be ready to knock out some guards (awesome!)
After a bit of sneaking around, slaughtering guards and throwing ninja death stars, you’ll meet Mugen, a Japanese samurai, capable of slicing sushi faster than you can say “You want how much for rice?!”. After a conversation, it turns out your both on the same team, and Hayato’s mission is to open the Yagura Mon (the main gate) so as to let all hell break loose.
Shortly after, the game will introduce shadow mode, which is a fantastic way of killing two guards with one slash. It allows you to perform an action on one character, whilst doing something else on another. For instance if two guards are staring at each other, you can have Hayato ninja shuriken the first, and Mugen sneak up behind the second at the same time! How cool is that?! This adds even more emphasis on the sneaky, sneaky approach!
A little bit after this you’ll get to meet Takum, who is by far my favorite character in the game. He’s one crazy old coot who never misses a shot! I’m talking old man sniper, which just makes things so much cooler. He’s only limited to a certain amount of shots (because if not you’d just destroy everything using him) so use him well and make sure that you don’t go using all those bullets shooting chickens!
All in all, you’ll have quite a few characters to choose from Hayato, the sneaky ninja with a bag full of rocks and death starts. Mugen, the lovable alcoholic samurai who is always up for a bit of slicing and dicing. Takum, an amazingly accurate old man, but still hits the seat from time to time… (man joke). There’s a couple more, and good ones at that, each with a different repertoire of weapons and abilities to smoothly sail you through missions!
The missions are long as hell, so be prepared with a fresh pot of coffee and some oreos. In all honesty though, once you get into them, you pretty much lose all track of time and space and everything just blends into one. It seems like minutes ago I restarted the game up after a very short first playthrough, and now it’s 5 hours later and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what the game has to offer. This is definitely a plus in my book!
When you do manage to complete a mission though, make sure after you’ve de-fossilized your arms, to take a look at the nifty summary screen that will behold you. There you’ll see all the amazing statistics that you’ve racked up like how many times you’ve alerted guides, killed, time it’s taken you, etc. You’ll also earn some badges if you managed to hit some of the super amazing criteria (go you!).
Each of these characters will come with their own unique skills and luckily for you, you’ll get to control them all! This just adds even more strategy and tactical thinking into a game which is absolutely riddled with it. You’ll have to think on your feet sometimes, especially if the guards catch you because there’s no way that you’ll be able to take all of them on (so be prepared to flee and quick!). Further more, you’ll have to use certain characters in different situations. Mugen is a bit on the chunky side, so he can’t quite use a grappling hook the same way that Hayato can (and yeah something about ninjas and samurais too) so you’ll have to plan who is doing what carefully.
Now if you thought this was going to be a walk in the park, then you’d be pretty wrong. Believe me when I say that even on normal mode, the game isn’t exactly easy and I died more times than I care to admit. This is great, because quite honestly I’m sick of games having the difficulty of ‘Babies first ABC’ so having a game where I just can’t quite figure it out is a breath of fresh air… For the first 5 or 6 times anyway. The game does implement a quick save and a quickload feature, so it’s not all bad if you die, but still, it can be frustrating when that guard just won’t go down!
Let’s talk a little bit about your ninja arse…nal. As you can imagine you’re pretty much ready for destruction with your sharpy, pointy, stabby, samurai blade and you also get all the regular stealthy ninja abilities like throwing rocks, crouching, being able climb, jump etc. etc. but what about a god damn shuriken to throw at guards faces?! yeah! I knew you’d like that ( 😉 ).
Mimimi production have done a fantastic job creating an environment that encourages the gamer to not only make use of but also to explore. There’s so many different ways to get to your objectives that you’re really spoilt for choice, and I actually found myself going backwards rather than forward sometimes to see if I could find a different route and most of the time I had. There’s so many different assets within the game to help you get to your destination, you’d be crazy to just try and stick to the shadows.
Not only that, but as a 3D base, point and click stealth game, they’ve done a great job in allowing you to use different levels of the map to hideaway. As you’re walking around, you can use the camera buttons to move your view of the area and see different surroundings. There will be areas you never even thought of hiding away in nooks and crannies, so don’t expect to blitz through without checking the beautiful scenery that the game has to offer.
The graphics are not quite what I expected if I’m honest, but that’s definitely not to say they’re bad. The game has a hand drawn, sketchy and cartoony look to it, which really does it justice. In all honesty, what with this being in beta stages, I really wasn’t expecting the graphics to be as good as they were, and things can only really get better. The character movements, whilst can be a little jolty from time to time, are otherwise smooth and seamless and the added bonus of special effects on certain actions and items just makes this a visually incredible experience.
Sound wise, well I can’t really complain. The sound gives you a great atmosphere of stealthy gameplay. The music is a bit overly repetitive but it does compliment the game really well and I think It’d be a bit petty to give the game any kind of negative review because the music is repetitive. Sound effects are bang on and generally I found nothing wrong with the sound at all, in fact if anything it was great.
Don’t get me wrong, the game isn’t perfect, and there’s the odd bug now and again, such as being able to knock a guard out, try to place him against an object and make him stand up, but all in all it’s a pretty great game to play, and whilst you’re going to expect a few issues within beta testing, it’s not even close to some of the games I’ve played which are actually released.
Overall, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a fantastic game, and it’s not even released yet. It’s really enjoyable to play, gets you thinking about different tactics and strategies, is aesthetically pleasing to every sense (lick your monitor now) and is full of violence. Who wouldn’t love it?!
Weather this is your kind of game or not, it’s definitely worth a try and frankly considering it’s only in beta at the moment, I’m very excited to see how this game develops, after all, I’m already looking forward to the full version!
Quote: “Feudal Japan just got a lot more bloody in this stealthy and strategy assassin RPG game”