Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a game that has been available on PC for a while. This is the first time the game has made its way to consoles and it is all thanks to the developers carefully trying to implement some of the more complex UI changes when transitioning to the consoles that the game still retains its charm.
On first look, the game looks like a standard tactics game where the camera is shown from top-down view. However the game offers the user full freedom in controlling the camera at any point fully utilizing its 3D visuals to craft and design a wide variety of levels where stealth takes priority. You will be able to play through the game with multiple characters, each of which offer their own unique ability to combat enemies or progress through the level.
Once I started the game, what immediately stood out for me was the art style for it. The visuals are bright and colorful and are animated gorgeously despite the fact that the camera features a top-down view, the game will provide you full control to zoom in and out with the camera, as well as rotate it 360 degrees. This actually has a rather great effect on how the game plays as you will be able to discover some hidden spots using this trick, or discover ways to sneak around enemies.
You might remember Commandos, a tactical game with stealth elements that played with a top-down view and was able exclusively on PC. In some ways, Shadow Tactics feels like a spiritual successor to Commandos which should please the fans of the long dormant franchise. However Commandos had one advantage over Shadow Tactics that it still retains to this day, and it is the tightly crafted level and gameplay mechanics which unfortunately are an issue in Shadow Tactics.
One aspect of the game that deserves to be admired is how the developers have managed to bring the controls and UI to the consoles. It is honestly a pretty impressive job because it is pretty difficult to transition such precise controls that are commonplace on PC to a console, but they seem to be well implemented here. Even if we talk about the quick save that is a characteristic of gaming on PC and comes real handy for a tactical stealth focused game, the developers have managed to implement it without any major hitches resulting in a experience that seems on par with what could be achieve on PC.
Shadow Tactics might feel like a difficult game at first once we begin as we slowly start to learn the controls and the mechanics but the game actually does a fairly good job at explaining some of the more complex systems. You will learn how to sneak around enemies, distract them and make your way to the next mission objective. Since it is hard to ignore stealth because you can be killed by enemies once discovered, you will have to plan you path carefully around each level while controlling multiple characters which will have their own unique abilities to help you through the stealth segments.
As mentioned earlier, the quick save and load mechanic makes it easier to go through some of the more difficult encounters in each level. They also act as checkpoints that are triggered manually by the player so if you successfully infiltrate a location and kill every guard, it is best to save the game in case you screw up your upcoming encounter. Speaking of the enemies, the AI is not exactly revolutionary here following a fairly basic gameplay premise. You can see the viewing distance of the AI and then determine through path to avoid being seen, however there is no added element of surprise here. The AI can react to the dead bodies and go on alert or start shooting at you if discovered, but thankfully you have a set amount of health that lets you escape once discovered so that you can strike back again from the shadows.
The story goes through a variety of different missions that gives you control of different assassins. These will have their own unique abilities which helps in differentiating the gameplay so it doesn’t feel repetitive. Despite the great efforts by the developers to implement the controls for a controller, there are moments where it is easy to get confused over the controls. The camera controls in particular can be tricky even if you get familiar with the game. Some missions will also result in luck over skill as you attempt to assassinate enemies so the auto save can come real handy here with the trial and error gameplay. Overall it is a fun experience and if you are itching for a console RTS game, Shadow Tactics definitely belongs at the top of the list.
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a stealth-oriented real-time tactics video game, with a gameplay similar to the Commandos and Desperados series.
There is a certain charm in attempting stealth in Shadow Tactics and with its focus on tactical aspects of combat, the story unforuately takes a backseat to the gameplay.