Stealth and tactics are some of the more challenging gameplay focuses to master, but well executed games that revolve around these principles are almost always addicting affairs despite their typically steep learning curves. Games like XCOM 2, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Metal Gear Solid are just a small sampling of the wide variety of game types that heavily feature stealth and tactics, and often RPG and tabletop game fans find themselves drawn to their experiences. Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a tactical stealth game set in Japan around the Edo period. The game was released last year on PC and received three German Developer Awards and is now coming to the PS4 and Xbox One on August 1st.
Developed by: Mimimi Productions
Published by: : Daedalic Entertainment
Release date: August 1st 2017
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun Features
- Play as five completely different characters with their unique skill set
- Conquer seemingly impossible challenges where you are outnumbered ten to one
- Find dozens of ways to take out your opponents the way you want
- Jump from roof to roof and climb large buildings to attack the enemy from above
- Explore beautiful environments of ancient Japan in the Edo era
- Choose from three difficulty levels to match your skill
Story & Setting
In the year 1615, a new Shogun seizes power over Japan and enforces nationwide peace. In his battle against conspiracy and rebellion, he recruits five specialists in assassination, sabotage and espionage. The team must fight against the mysterious Kage-sama, who plans to overthrow the Shogun in a quest for power. Your team will infiltrate castles, gather intel through spying, fight off rebellions and take the battle directly to Kage-sama. The set design takes players through beautiful environments, all set in the Edo period of Japanese history.
The group of individuals assembled are comprised of distinctly different personalities and initially working as a team seems doomed to failure. Over the course of the game’s missions, they will all learn to trust each other as they all deal with their own personal drama.
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun merges stealth gameplay with tactical strategy in a top-down view. For those who have played the Commandos series of games, the gameplay will be familiar as you will be mixing and matching stealth, strategy and the various skills your characters have at their disposal as they progress.
Your team of specialists will infiltrate castles, snowy mountain monasteries and hidden forest camps. To emerge victorious you will be setting traps, engaging in sneaky poison or completely avoiding enemy contact. The gameplay unfolds over the vertical landscape, allowing you to jump from roof to roof and drop down on foes to gain the upperhand.
The characters you will be commandeering through this journey are Hayato, an agile ninja who makes his way with stealth and wields a sword and shuriken. Samurai Mugen is a much more power forward combatant and can take on several enemies at once, but this comes at the expense of flexibility. Aiko is a camouflage specialist and can distract enemies disguised as a Geisha. Yuki is a stree child who can place traps and decoys to trick unsuspecting enemies. Takuma is a mysterious marksman who relies on his sniper rifle and can take out enemies from range.
When deciding how to tackle missions as effectively as possible you will have to decide how the characters function as a unit. Each has their specialty and matching that up to the tactic you want to employ is crucial. Given that you won’t be able to always make the best choice you will have to be flexible and imaginative to come up with clever ways to defeat the enemies in a map. Something that seems unconventional could make all the difference.
Each of the characters has a set of skills that you can use to both distract and kill enemies. These skills range from the basic to the more specialized and run the gamut depending on the character you’re using. Aiko has several geisha disguises at her disposal, Hayato can toss stones, Yuki can play a flute to lure, Mugen can make some powerful sword attacks, and Takuma can tame a Tanuki for use in distraction.
You can also plan group tactics that your team can all execute at once. In the game’s Shadow Mode, you can assign a tactic to each character and then activate them all at once. If you carefully plan each character’s action, you can do some considerable damage on the battlefield and clear a path to victory. Any time a game lets you queue up actions and then marvel at how they play out, addicting gameplay is sure to follow.
Every enemy encounter in a location is its own bit of a puzzle to solve and every enemy has a pattern and path that you will have to study and memorize in order to plan your attack. At your disposal are your specialized characters and their assortment of abilities which you will use to screw with the enemy patterns. A lot of determining what will work will be trial and error as you mix and match tactics and skills to achieve success.
The game accommodates a variety of approaches. You can hide and sneak beyond an enemy’s field of view. Once you get the drop on a foe and take them out you can hide their bodies to cover your tracks. Your options also change depending on the environment. If it’s a snowy setting for example, enemies will notice your footprints. This can be a detriment to staying in cover, however can be used to your advantage if you want to lay some traps.
The game lets you quick save as you play at any point, which allows you to really execute your plans to perfection. You can save, and then experiment with a few different strategies to see what works. While you do so, a timer will indicate when a length of time has passed since your last save. This helpful reminder is a great tool and something that any game without or with limited auto-save should consider adding. Looking at you Elder Scrolls and Fallout.
There are about 13 missions to take on, for a grand total of about 25 hours of play time. Additionally the missions have high replay value as each contains unique objectives and the number of characters you control changes. This keeps things fresh for you since you can’t just coast on a tactic you’ve devised as you may enter into situations without your preferred lineup. The missions also feature futher unlockable twists like speed runs where you can challenge your ability to clear the board. The missions span a variety of locations and situations in Edo Japan such as prisons, assassinations, robberies and more.
Stealth and tactics need not be the exclusive domain of PC, and with the success of games like XCOM on console, it’s good to games like Shadow Tactics making its way to the couch warriors. Deep gameplay with a variety of skills and possible solutions gives the game instant appeal for those who like to put a little bit of brain power into their gaming sessions.