Fans of real-time tactics game like Commandos and Desperados haven’t had a new game like them to satisfy their niche in nearly a decade. Well now they’re in luck, because Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun sneaked by under everyone’s radar with a free demo and a release in just over a week.
Shadow Tactics takes up the mantle of the real-time tactics genre and places it in Edo-period Japan. Based on the website, the game has five playable characters: a ninja, a samurai, a marksman, a street child, and a geisha. And each of them have their own set of skills that the player needs to use to complete missions.
The game has a demo available for download that contains two missions from the game and four of the five characters. I gave this short trial a shot and here’s my take on it.
Shadow Tactics is a Game Made in 2016
Booting up the demo, the first thing you’ll notice is that this is a game made in 2016.
That may be an odd statement, but the last Commandos style game that I played came out over a decade ago and, by today’s standards, had some very primitive mechanics.
Shadow Tactics took this in mind and implemented systems that make the game feel more modern and smooth. From simple things like having the ability to rotate the camera as well as a quick save function to more complex things like “accidents” and “shadow mode.”
To elaborate on those last two, Shadow Tactics implemented a Hitman like accident system. Should an enemy be killed by something that seems like an accident (say a falling object or a wild animal) then they’ll think of it as just that — an accident. No alarms, no fuss.
The Shadow Mode is a system that allows the player to essentially queue up one action per character. With the press of a button, all orders will be executed at the same time. This is something I haven’t seen in previous real-time tactics game and it really adds a new layer of depth and strategy to the genre.
The Cast of Characters
Anyway, as previously mentioned the demo of the game contains two missions. And in the span of those two missions, you’ll get a chance to play as four of the five main characters.
Hayato, a ninja that can take out single opponents silently from a distance. Mugen, a samurai that can take down several enemies at once. Takuma, a marksman that can take out single enemies from nearly across the map. And finally, Yuki, a street child that can lay down traps for the enemy to walk into.
In addition to them, there’s a fifth character revealed on the game’s site and trailer: Aiko, who seems to be a geisha. How exactly she’ll play we’ll have to wait and see. But based on the trailer she seems to have a distraction ability like the Spy from Commandos.
All in all, they all felt different enough in their abilities that they all stood one from one another. In addition to that, the four available in the trailer all had entertaining and amusing personalities and dialogue with one another that just adds more to the game.
Based on the demo, I have to say that the game is good. Very good, very enjoyable, and very much a throwback to the older titles.
However, there are some concerns that I already noticed. For one thing, the quick save system does make the game a bit easier than its predecessors. Sure you could restrict yourself from using it and there are rewards for not using it, but it’s still something in play that can make high risks movements, well, not a risk.
Next is that, based on the two missions I played, the level design was kind of simple and plain. I’m certain the game will get more difficult down the line, and it feels like the two levels available are both tutorial levels of some kind. So this isn’t too much of a problem as it is a concern that I’m hoping later levels will remedy.
All in all the game is fun and, coming from a fan of Commandos and Desperados, feels like a worthy successor. For those interested in giving it a shot, GOG and Steam both have a free demo for the game.
If you like the demo enough, the game comes out on December 6 on both GOG and Steam for PC. With a PS4 and Xbox One release also coming soon.