Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a tactical stealth game set in the Edo period in Japan, which by the way is the best time in history in almost any time for any country/region because of NINJAS! You’ll take control of five assassins all with unique abilities to complete the various missions throughout the region looking to bring peace for the new Shogun.
You get immediately thrown into the fray but they don’t leave you stranded, there are scrolls spread out through the first few levels that have tutorial information in them – a nice way to combine the game with the how-to-play. You could totally ignore them if you knew what you were doing, but they were nice for me who has never played this type of game (or it’s been YEARS anyways). Throughout the first few levels you start to unlock your new friends who work with you to enact stealth kills in completely different ways from a Hyato – standard ninja, sneaking in the shadows to a kid, Yuki who sets traps, a Shogun warrior, Mugen, who among other things can carry two bodies at a time (which is handy!). There’s also Takuma, an old man with a sniper rifle and Aiko who can disguise herself as a priestess or Geisha to distract and kill the enemies.
The graphics are great with a sort-of Boderlands feel from far away. The hard-line edges of the landscape give it a slightly cartoony feel with it still being a serious strategy game. I’ve been a fan of these type of graphics for a long time and Shadow Tactics does it very well. The camera controls are just about the only bump in the road which I could easily have seen cause issues with the graphics but it doesn’t. You move the characters with the left joystick, and move the camera with the right. It can take some time getting used to moving the camera or finding the best angle for what you’re looking to do.
All the camera moving, spinning and bouncing off the edges of the level and I’ve not seen any clipping or stuttering or anything. It’s an amazingly smooth running game for everything that’s happening throughout it. Camera control is incredibly important as I’ve come to learn because I’ve been in a situation where I thought I was safe and all of a sudden there was an enemy behind a wall that I didn’t see. One of the best skills in the game is the “Shadow Mode” where you can use each member of your group to do a specified attack to a different enemy. So if there are three enemies that you need to kill without being seen you can set up a coordinated attack to kill them all at the same time.
Mimimi Productions has done a great job with their hardcore tactical stealth game and while they say there is “25 hours” of gameplay, I think that they’ve vastly underrated the time it’ll take the average gamer to get through the missions. The first few missions have taken me an hour each to complete and that doesn’t count going back for all the challenges. Seeing the speed-run challenges are set to 10-15 minutes, I’m not sure how I’ll get those but I’ll be trying! One hold-back may be the price, It’s not priced at a franchise price at $59.99 but at $49.99 they may be reaching a bit high. That being said it’s more than worth that price – market-wise though, a little lower may have been more appealing to people unfamiliar with the genre.