Recently, I was given the pleasure of reviewing Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun by Mimimi Productions (Developer) and Daedalic Entertainment (Publisher). Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun sets you in the Edo period of Japan during a time of a conflict. The peace and calm that the current Shogunate instilled become broken as a new villainous and mysterious warlord named Kage-Sama begin to rise. The rise of the new warlord bonds together a special crew of five that each have distinct skills that the others lack, to help take down the warlord and bring back peace to the land.

 

Graphics

The graphics of Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun are beautiful and capture the time period you’re in. The levels have these amazingly hand-drawn styled graphics, brush strokes and eye-popping color palettes. Eachlevel you go through features different looks such as snow-covered streets of Imai town, the sunny village of Mount Tsuru, and even the sunset skies of Lord Yabu’s Estate. Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun really captures your eye as you play.

The graphics get an 8.

 

Gameplay

The gameplay of Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun forces you have to think before your next move, as this game is a true testament to strategy and planning. Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a real-time tactics game that’s inspired by Commandos and Desperados, where you control either one or more character on the screen at once. Each character has a particular set of skills to adjust to the other characters shortcomings. Mugen the samurai has strength and high-level combat abilities, Hayato the ninja can use a shuriken to kill enemies from long distances, Aiko the Shinobi can disguise herself to distract guards, Takuma can use a rifle from long distance to kill an enemy and also can distract enemies with a tanuki, and Yuki can set a trap and lure people in with her flute. You have to learn how to work all of these characters together at once, planning positions for each of them to be in and sometimes just preparing yourself for the next step. You will use that quicksave and load save button often as mistakes will be made.

However, playing through Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun isn’t completely controller friendly, as you’ll be consistently struggling with the camera options to zoom out and turn the map. The camera at some points later in the game will begin to work against you as you’ll have a few moments of struggle with the combination of how it’s programmed to move the camera with the trigger buttons. This issue is a great hindrance to many of the tougher missions later on and was unavoidable.

The gameplay gets an 8.5

Audio

The audio of Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is excellent. The voice acting is really good, from the cast of characters you play with to the villains of the game. Each character has their personality nailed down by their voice actor. Mugen is the caring father type, Hayato’s out to prove the world why he’s the best Shinobi, Aiko’s shrouded in her beauty and grace but can be as serious as possible, Yuki’s still young and hasn’t gotten the chance to experience the world for herself yet and Takuma’s lived out his years long enough as this is just playing around for him. The personalities are reinforced in their lines during the story, as this gets shown from each interaction we see from each person in the group.

Also, another key factor for the audio in Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is definitely the music. The usage of Edo period instruments such as the Koto, Taiko drum, Shamisen and other various instruments play into this as they reinforce the time period, hearing them craft quite beautiful music in the background. Some levels have these instruments going with a ferocity, some being played to show a quiet still from war going on as you sneak through. Mimimi Productions added the icing on the cake with these included, as they play just as big as a role as the voice acting.

The audio gets a 9.

 

Story

I saved the story portion of Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun¬†until last, as it blew me away. At first, I wasn’t expecting such a story to come from the game, I truly didn’t know what to expect from the story as I’ve never played a game of this caliber before. I dug in and began to learn about these five, first learning each character then learning to switch off one another and play to everyone strengths and weaknesses respectively.

As time progressed and my pacing on missions got better, the bond between these five began to grow. That is until the story throws a curveball at you and one of the characters that grow on you since the beginning gets killed; then betrayal begins to happen as the rise of the mysterious warlord hits closer to home and unexpectedly puts you in for a loop. As I progressed through the story of Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, I didn’t expect to be pulled in emotionally, nor care for any of these characters. But somehow this game manages to make them grow on you in a way to where you feel that you’re in the group with them.

The story gets a 9.5

Verdict

Honestly, I’ve never played a title like this before. So I didn’t know how to receive it as usually strategy games aren’t really my thing. But, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun has not only proved me wrong to where I can handle a strategy game, but has also proved me wrong, as the game is enticing enough to hold my attention over for quite some time. Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun comes with a gripping story, beautiful music and quality voice acting, intense gameplay where every step you take matters, and great graphics. However, the only issue that you have to suffer through whilst playing is the camera issue. They will work against you if you aren’t careful. Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun isn’t for everyone; I almost thought it wasn’t for myself at one point. But I guarantee for those who attempt the game after reading this review: you will agree that this game is the true sleeper gem of 2017. Don’t miss out on a quality title.