Shadow tactics: blades of the shogun

     

Stick the knee, stab the neck

Thinking about stealth, a common image the mind conjures is that of a lone wolf slinking through the shadows and taking out threats one by one. Solid Snake & Sam Fisher generally work alone. Players control one man using skill & cunning lớn take on an army.

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Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun zooms out a bit. It follows a group of five warriors, each with his or her own strengths và weaknesses. Instead of stealth by way of kích hoạt or a shooter, Shadow Tactics approaches it through a more real-time strategy lens. More accurately, it’s real-time tactics. I mean, it’s right there in the title.

Oh, và it’s excellent. There’s that too.

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Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun(Linux, Mac, PC )Developer: Mimimi ProductionsPublisher: Daedalic EntertainmentReleased: December 6, 2016MSRP: $39.99Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555
3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700,Windows 7 64-bit

Blades of the Shogun‘s opening mission introduces three of the five main characters, each with his own archetype. Hayato is a shinobi; he plays lượt thích a typical stealth game hero. He can hookshot onto buildings, distract guards with thrown rocks, và assassinate targets from behind. Mugen is a samurai; with his armor he can take more damage và execute an area-of-effect attack khổng lồ neutralize multiple enemies at once. Takuma is a sniper, slower than most and unable lớn quietly assassinate in close range, but deadly when perched in a far off tower.

The two additional characters are more like Hayato in terms of movement và combat capability, but they distinguish themselves by their special abilities. Yuki can lure enemies khổng lồ her location with a whistle và can set up a trap to lớn take them out when they step on it. Aiko can manipulate vision cones and change outfits to lớn walk among foes undetected.

It’s the combination of abilities (and often the consideration of drawbacks) that makes Shadow Tacticsinteresting. There are often multiple solutions to lớn a given problem, and by constantly mixing up which combination of the five team members are available from mission to lớn mission, ideas that have worked in the past may not be as viable in the future.

For instance, a patrol of three guards moving closely together obviously calls for Mugen’s area attack or Takuma’s bomb. In a mission with only Hayato, Yuki, and Aiko, the three have to work together in order khổng lồ take out the targets undetected.

Toward that end, Shadow Tactics has a feature called Shadow Mode, which allows players lớn queue up one action for each character, then either execute them individually or simultaneously with a single keystroke. One of the coolest feelings was marking each of the three patrolling guards with a different character & pounce-assassinating them all at once from a bridge overhead.

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Shadow Mode can be crucial for team actions that need to lớn be precisely timed. I can recall another instance in which I had Mugen drop his bottle of sake to act as a lure, had Hayato throw a shuriken when the enemy was in an exact spot, then sent Yuki in to lớn drag the toàn thân away to lớn remain out of sight, all within a few seconds. If anything, I wish it were possible khổng lồ have more than one kích hoạt per character in the queue.

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Another aspect that keeps Shadow Tactics interesting is the steady introduction of new mechanics to tackle. Once the basics of stealth và each character’s abilities are out of the way, the maps themselves add new wrinkles. Snow on the ground causes characters khổng lồ leave footprints, which are often a hazard to avoid but can also be a boon when used cleverly in order khổng lồ lure guards from their posts. In night levels, the entire line of sight system is reworked lớn take into tài khoản distance from a light source. One mission brings the group lớn a rice paddy where cover is plentiful but sloshing through the water makes a lot of noise. Blades of the Shogun doesn’t dwell too long on any one idea before trying something new.

Further, each mission has a phối of optional objectives, usually focused on completing the given task with style. It not only encourages replaying levels, but also pushes players toward trying out new ideas or taking different paths. You had Takuma snipe this high-level target from afar? Cool, next time try poisoning his tea with Yuki. Did that? See if you can infiltrate his heavily guarded compound và kill him with just your bare hands.

For somebody who is generally more inclined lớn turn-based strategy, Shadow Tactics can be difficult, but it’s still doable. (Were it not for the generous quick save system, I’d almost certainly be sunk.) Aside from the sections where simultaneous actions via Shadow Mode is a must, it’s generally possible to compartmentalize và control each character one at a time. However, that’s pretty slow; I’ve taken three hours to lớn finish a single mission. It’s only a little discouraging khổng lồ see from the optional objectives afterward that it could be speedrun in 21 minutes.

Aesthetically, Blades of the Shogun works well, even if it’s nothing khổng lồ write home about. It has a sharp cel-shaded look that makes clear which parts of the environment can be interacted with và where enemies are posted. As a minor gripe, some of the voice acting is puzzling. While most of the main cast vày a decent job with Japanese accents, a few supporting characters sound almost British. It’s as if they were told khổng lồ sound foreign and 16th Century English aristocracy was what came out.

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The minor issues don’t really detract from the enjoyment in Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun. The base gameplay is a solid stealth foundation, the different characters allow for lateral thinking lớn solve challenges, the changing mechanics from the environments require readjustments in strategy, và the overall difficulty keeps it from ever becoming a trivial puzzle game.

I’ve spent a few work nights staying up way too late playing, just to see what it would throw at me next. With the replayability built into each mission, I can imagine a few more of those nights on the horizon.