Shikhondo - Soul Eater - When Shmups, Style, and Demons Collide
Yes, you can consider me one of the bigger shmup players on GS. I find them fun, but I'm not very good at them. I enjoy them for the value they place on short time commitments for players. This feeling was no different with Shikhondo: Soul Eater, now available on the PlayStation 4.
This is Korean developer DeerFarm's first foray onto the console market as well as their fifth studio title. So is this Korean mythology inspired shooter fun to play? Find out in our review.
The game's details are minimal but the story is easy to follow. Demons, ghosts, and bad things are threatening the land. A grim reaper and a teenage girl are tasked with saving the world and sending them back to limbo.
It would be easy to say that all arcade shooters are the same. However that's quite untrue. Sure, they share a lot in common design-wise. There are various modes such as arcade, boss rush, score keeping, and so on. Shikhondo, like a few games stands out because of it's unique blend of execution and design.
You'll traverse a number of stages shooting things that go bump in the night. You'll have to avoid waves of enemy fire as stages get increasingly more difficult. The title really stands because of its presentation. Everything within the title is very vibrant. Everyone from canon fodder foes, the heroines, and bosses fit the aesthetics beautifully.
The game isn't pulling any punches with its gameplay. Even if you're playing on easy, you'll probably die often. Bullet hell games teach you to observe the space around you, and this one's no different. If you try to keep track of an entire screen filled with energy blasts.. you'll lose fast. The game does a good job of teaching (or forcing) you to recognize enemy patterns. That is, of course, you aren't too stressed out just trying to live.
Shikhondo does a good job of presenting it's dangers with little room to breathe. Often you'll be flying through a stage mowing down foe after foe. Then more challenging foes are introduced in between easier targets. Stages are short and the goal is to make it to each boss in one piece. If you can.
Speaking of bosses: they're probably my second favorite aspect of the game. The bosses have 2 phases. Their first forms are pretty "harmless" -- well, they won't put up much of a fight. Now, when they transform into their true forms? This is when you put your skills to the test.
The screen will be flooded (yes, flooded) with bullets and you'll need to stay alive while trying to shoot them. It's a tall order but it'll leave you satisfied when you win. DeerFarm really made a solid skill based game for players to enjoy their victories.
Ah Choices, Choices
As I mentioned before, the game shares a lot of modern day designs. One feature that's hardly seen anywhere is local coop mode.
Yes that's right, you and a friend can clear the game as both heroines. In 2018, that's a great feature to have. Having a friend right there adds another layer of joy and camaraderie. Multiplayer in shmups isn't new but the option is always welcome.
Now this game features one more exciting feature, my favorite: customize mode. In this mode you can change the parameters of how the game plays.
I'll offer an example with the Soul Gauge. It's a meter that fills normally if you dodge enemy shots that come close by to you. When full, you can enter Soul Attack mode, where for a limited time your attack is a lot more powerful. In customize, you can change this where the gauge fills as you shoot enemies. So you can enter the mode faster and deal more damage as you go on.
In actual function, you can make the game easier. More importantly you can impose more handicaps on yourself to an already challenging experience. This not only extends it's replay value but it empowers players to be experts. These are options I have hardly seen in any game.
Shikhonodo's only negative is that it's outshined by other titles. It's still a fun game and that isn't negative in any sense.
It was designed well to be a well timed experience and challenge.
With every arcade shooter I play, I ask; how welcoming can they be for newcomers?
The best games within the genre can be daunting and off-putting. Shikhondo however doesn't have that problem. If someone clears easy mode, they certainly can move on to harder difficulties with more time invested. It offers a full campaign within a short time period, which offers a lot of chance to practice.
If you're a fan or looking to start shmups, you can't go wrong with Shikhondo. It's stylish, well executed, has number of features, and hold no punches.
Fans of shmups and arcade game can play Shikhondo: Soul Eater today via the PlayStation Store.
(Review code was provided from the publisher.)