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Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun - a Stealth Action Game Worthy of Your Steam Library

What happens when you mix stealth action, tactical decisions, and beautiful art? You get Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun.

In my teenage years, I had an obsession with games that challenged me to think outside of the box. Because of this, I found myself playing a fair bit of Metal Gear: Solid and the Tenchu series of games. I loved the stealth aspect of both games and I mean, come on, who doesn't want to be a ninja?

From time to time, I still enjoy some Metal Gear, mostly in the form of playing The Phantom Pain, but there wasn't ever really a game to quench my thirst for ninja stealth action. This all changed earlier this week with Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun

a shadowy ninja

The Skinny on Shadow Tactics

Before I got a chance to play the game there was an issue that kept me from getting access to the game. Normally, I wouldn't bring that up except, in this case, I want to make known just how passionate the game developer is.

Mimimi Productions, the developers of Shadow Tactics, were incredibly communicative with me throughout the process and did everything in their power to try to help me -- all so that I could review their game, which I may have hated. That level of dedication spoke volumes to me as it showed just how passionate they are about what it is they do. Now let's turn our attention to the game itself.

Characters

Throughout the missions, you'll have access to a mix of the 5 characters that are able to be played. They are as varied in their skills as much as they are in their personalities.

The best description of the characters in Shadow Tactics is directly from the Steam store page:

One of the leaders of this team is Hayato, an agile ninja, who clears the way through his enemies silently, with his sword and shuriken. Samurai Mugen prefers a more powerful approach and can defeat more fiends at one time, but thus also forfeiting flexibility. Aiko is a master of camouflage when she distracts enemies disguised as a Geisha. And the street child Yuki places traps and decoys enemies towards their deadly fate. The mysterious marksman Takuma however, relies on his sniper rifle and takes care of the enemies from a distance.

One of the aspects that I like about having a mix of characters is that it allows you to complete missions in more than one way, giving you a chance to switch up how you approach each mission. It's also fun to listen to the banter between characters when you perform certain tasks.

Gameplay

Shadow Tactics offers a top-down, tactical, stealth action experience. You must watch the enemies to learn their patterns, use deception and distractions to your advantage, and be ready for things to get hectic at a moment's notice.

One of the gameplay aspects I liked is the Shadow mode. It allows you to set up an action for other characters to take, so that you can perform synchronized attacks and maneuvers. There is just something satisfying about clearing an area of enemies with a synchronized assault. 

Visuals

Shadow tactics second mission

The visuals in Shadow Tactics are gorgeous and you can tell that a lot of thought and work went into them. From the flickering lanterns to the flowing water, everything has this beautiful, hand-painted look that just seems to catch your eye. The simple, low-poly style is whimsical but doesn't look cheap or overly cartoonish.

The cutscenes are a particular favorite of mine, as not only are they engaging, helping to progress the story and give the player a moment to relax their mind, but they also showcase the next point -- the great voice acting, music, and sound effects.

Audio

As I just mentioned, the game has great voice acting. You have the option of choosing between English and Japanese for the spoken dialog, which I feel adds a special touch to the game. The music is also very relaxing but can grow in its excitement, based on the tempo of the gameplay.

 Final thoughts

All things considered, this is a title worth adding to your Steam collection. While not without a few, minor flaws, this game delivers on all the important aspects of a good game -- solid mechanics, story, visuals, and audio. While tactical, stealth action games are not a new concept, Shadow Tactics manages to compete with the best the genre has to offer. If that's not convincing enough, I encourage you to download the demo on Steam and try it for yourself. The full release of the game launches on Dec. 6th so be on the lookout.

Played the demo? What was your favorite aspect of the game? Let me know what you thought in the comments below.

Our Rating
8
What happens when you mix stealth action, tactical decisions, and beautiful art? You get Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun.
Reviewed On: PC
Published Nov. 25th 2016

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