Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun (PC) Review

By Eric Ace 13.01.2017

Review for Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun on PC

Mimimi Productions' Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun evokes a Metal Gear Solid stealth style, taking place during the Edo period of Japanese history, where there is much fighting and assassinations. A group of five different people is controlled, as they work in the shadows, trying to bring peace to the land.

A fair bit is done right with Shadow Tactics, but the reality is that the demographic that this type of game is marketed towards will likely find little enjoyment in it. It is styled as a real-time strategy title, and, quite frankly, it is nothing close to it. The closest parallel is Metal Gear Solid, since the characters have to go around sneaking through very long levels. "Stealth puzzle game" might be a better fit for its description.

Gameplay is viewed from a high third-person angle, as the player orders their units around the map. The goals are always very far away, consisting of things like opening a gate, stopping something, or killing someone. The game starts off pretty cool, as we are given a ninja guy that is climbing a cliff, taking a few guards out and sneaking by, leaving a positive first impression and excitement at what is to come.

Screenshot for Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun on PC

One of the better aspects comes in the form of the graphics. The characters are pretty forgettable in how they look on the screen, but the backgrounds are really well drawn through a type of cel-shading, with the Japanese houses and the bamboo forests looking surprisingly realistic.

At its root, this is a puzzle game through and through. Despite the huge maps, there is only one way to go, and that means encountering each and every puzzle that has been design. This realisation cramps down on the fun, where the ninja guy hops up on the houses, but can't actually go anywhere and has to get back down in the same hallway he started.

There is very little real-time strategy going on, other than that it does indeed play in real time. It really is essentially a puzzle title. Coming to the next room, canyon, hallway, and so on, the player has to sit back, watch for a minute or two and decide what to do when presented with enemies. Are they going to try to sneak past? Try to lure a guy away? Try to kill them all before the alarm?

Screenshot for Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun on PC

There are a few different characters to use, but really all they are are new ways to beat the puzzle at hand. It can be anything from the ranged ninja guy, to a loud samurai who can fight two or three people at once, to a sniper who can kill anyone, to a girl that sets traps.

Shadow Tactics is very hard, and as proof the game warns you to save after one minute of no saving. Considering a single level is going to be an hour or more, that is a lot of saving. It is needed, though, because, for the most part, the gameplay is trial and error. Try setting a trap; you get caught. Reload. Try fighting; different guy sees you. Reload. Try sneaking around; some guy you didn't see sees you. Reload.

Screenshot for Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun on PC

The solutions are very rarely obvious, and this is a negative. For players that want punishing puzzles, they will likely enjoy this, but for anyone else, the difficulty becomes trying. Furthermore, there is nothing really new after about the second mission. There are only so many ways you can lure guards, or sneak around. This, mixed with the endless reloads, is an exercise in frustration.

Contrasted this with a stealth game like Metal Gear Solid, where it never felt cheap or unfair, and the general flow was much better, with the world feeling alive, unlike in Shadow Tactics, where, once the room is clear, it is onto the next new "puzzle" and nothing behind you matters. It is best described like being in a dark room trying to find the door, and it can only be found running full speed into the wall and hoping it opens. It rarely is the right spot, so you have to try again. The first times aren't bad, but each time it gets more annoying, more painful, and eventually the player asks themselves, "What exactly am I doing this for again?"

Screenshot for Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a game hardcore puzzle types will enjoy, despite what any screenshot looks like, but any fan of RTS or even stealth games will be annoyed by the very narrow path of figuring out the current "stealth puzzle" facing them. If it is any indication of the slog that will be faced, a warning appears if you have not saved in over a minute. For the very narrow niche of puzzle gamers, they will enjoy figuring it out, but for everyone else, it is simply far too much guess-and-check, and the pure repetition grinds the player down.

Developer

Mimimi

Publisher

Daedalic

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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