Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Developer: Mimimi Productions
Release Date: Aug. 1, 2017 (US), July 27, 2017 (EU)

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PS4 Review - 'Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun'

by Michael Keener on Sept. 7, 2017 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a real-time tactics game with stealth elements set during the Edo period of ancient Japan, time of the Shogun, Ninjas and Samurai.

Buy Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun

Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a real-time, stealth-based tactical game that takes place during Japan's Edo period. Although it has some fictitious characters, plot points and settings, everything about the title feels authentic. The game was released on the PC in 2016 but has finally made its way to consoles. The controls have been more than well translated from the mouse and keyboard to gamepads, and everything that had previously made it such a highly acclaimed title has been carried over as well.

Shadow Tactics plays in an isometric view that can be panned, rotated and zoomed, thanks to a very well-implemented camera system. Characters are quick and responsive, and so are their actions. Characters can perform whatever players want: attacking, climbing, crouching, and jumping across gaps and between structures. Since this is a real-time strategy title, players need to make plenty of quick decisions and timely considerations. Finding the perfect balance is tough but extremely rewarding when everything is executed smoothly.

Learning to control the camera is the top priority, so observing the enemy actions, patrols and positions can be done efficiently. When players are prepared to move across a courtyard or across the top of the buildings, committing completely to the original plan occasionally means failure. You'll need to make last-second adjustments when the enemy patrol shifts slightly in an unexpected way or a civilian works on the boxes that were going to serve as a hiding spot. Civilians wont attack, but they'll be swift to notify a nearby guard of the presence of an intruder.

There are three different difficulty levels, but generally, Shadow Tactics is a challenge regardless of which one you pick. The gameplay can get extremely difficult, and no time is wasted before throwing the player into action. You learn everything you need during the first mission, which is more or less a tutorial level. A few tricks that are taught are throwing rocks to distract guards, whistling, setting traps, and using the environment to evade or kill guards.

The whole system works but allows players to be creative. There is never one sole solution to a predicament but several of them. This ultimately leads to high replay value, since you may not remember how you made it across the huge maps the first time. There are over a dozen missions to play, and each one takes players to a place different enough from the one before and after it, although they're all in the same theme.

The main thing that jumps out after loading a mission is the beauty of the game world. Isometric views usually take me out of immersion, and I was initially concerned that the same thing would occur in Shadow Tactics, but once I learned how to use the camera, I fell in love with the 3-D environments. There's a lot of variety and intricacy in the game world, and everything within has a life of its own, from the Japanese gardens to the snowy towns and oceanside cliffs.

The musical choice is just as fitting and exactly what's expected given the setting. The impressive part is with the voice acting, which the game has in more than a few languages, and they are extremely well done. I used English, and I was more than happy to hear how convincing the speech was. The characters have interesting dialogue choices that distinguished them while also helping the player feel connected to them.

Shadow Tactics shows hints of Hitman gameplay mixed with 2016's Aragami, all in an isometric and slightly more difficult way. It's not necessarily unforgiving, but bump up the difficulty level to hardcore, and you'll abuse the quick save function. It comes with a hefty price tag, but once you master the camera controls, the gameplay is addictive, and the worlds are extremely polished and beautiful to watch for extended periods of time.

I can't recommend Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun enough to fans of strategy and stealth titles. There is a high level of replay value, and there's a sandbox feel to the levels, so players can determine how to beat them in a variety of ways. The only thing holding it back is the lack of co-op, which makes every game better since I can play it with my younger brother. I have no doubt that there will be a sequel in the future, and if it is anything like this one, I'm already saving my pennies to get it on day one.

Score: 9.0/10

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