Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun – Game Review
Updated: Feb 1
94/100 – A real-time tactics masterpiece
A long time ago, real-time tactics games like Commandos and Desperados were being developed and enjoyed. The isometric nature of these games offered a great combination of challenge and graphics for their time.
But as time went on, the gaming industry shifted its focus from these games in favor of more action-packed, streamlined, and easy to play games. Games of this genre were indeed considered frustrating to the average player making them less accessible to everyone. With players having to quicksave or reload multiple times to achieve their goals made it feel clunky. Step ten years into the future...
Suddenly, as if out of the shadows, we were presented with Shadow Tactics in 2016. And everyone who longed for this long-forgotten genre has had only positive things to say about it. It sits at a whopping 96% user review score on Steam and has been at this level for most of its existence. Truth be told, it lives up to it, as this has to be the purest and most seamless real-time tactics game I have ever played.
As the name implies, stealth is the main objective of the game. Alerting enemies will draw multiple guards that only spawn if the alarm is sounded. Keeping out of sight and staying silent when eliminating enemies will help prevent this from happening.
Hiding bodies is a lot easier with bushes, buildings, and other interactable environments that can also be used to hide your characters. Keeping defeated enemies out of sight is as important as keeping your team well-hidden.
There are five unique characters, all of which have their own set of gear and playstyle. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses, such as - - who can carry two bodies at once and has the most health but cannot climb walls or jump from heights.
The enemy consists of regular guards who will attack and sound the alarm if they spot you. Straw hats, which cannot be distracted for long or lured by any of your character's tricks. And samurai, who require a coordinated attack from two members or having Mugen fighting them head-on.
If you are worried about the game being difficult to pick up, it can be played in three difficulties. There are challenges for you to complete in each mission, but they are optional and not required for finishing the game.
Shadow mode, a feature not seen in other real-time tactics games, allows you to set up coordinated attacks with your team. Once you have given the orders to each member, they will perform their tasks once the execute button is pressed. This makes dealing with multiple enemies a bit easier.
The challenge of a real-time tactics game is, of course, figuring out how to achieve your goal without losing any of your teammates in the process. It is up to you to figure out how you will go about it.
The story has you playing as the Shogun's blades in the early Edo period in Japan. He will send you on important missions to uncover the true identity of the elusive and mysterious Kage-sama, leader of a rebel group that sought to overthrow the Shogun. You will need to use cunning and deception to cut your way through his resistance and find out his plans.
Each of the five characters in your team has their own backstory lightly touched on during the missions. But you will often have a different team composition in each mission, forcing you to use new tactics and learn their weaknesses.
The game is very well-made, with all the characters being voiced, cutscenes between missions, and seamless gameplay. You can experiment with strategies much more in this than in previous games in this genre. Hell, you can even brute force it, but you'll have a much harder time doing so. The same studio has since gone on to make a new Desperados, which has taken the same formula and improved it.
If you enjoy real-time tactics games and want a game to challenge you, this one is highly recommended. You can often find this game going on sale for up to 70% off on Steam if you're looking for a bargain.