Shadow Tactics: Blades of The Shogun Impressions PS4 – A Master Crafted Game Deserving of Tactical Appreciation

When I was younger I used to watch my brother get extremely annoyed and storm out of the computer room, only to arrive back in a couple of minutes to resume his hunched over the position at the computer. I used to watch this loop of commitment and anger with intrigue, wondering what exactly caused this. Turns out he’s was playing a game called Commandos, and while I was too young to play it I always wanted to. Fast-forward a couple of years, my editor tasked me with reviewing Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, those memories of my brother’s loop came flooding back to me – I’d forgot about that genre of strategy game that I had always wanted to play – and I was keener than ever to see if that same level of frustration would hit me in the same way it did to my ‘oh-so patient’ brother.

Spoiler Alert: It did.

Developed by Mimimi Productions, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a stealth-based top-down strategy game set in Japan during the Edo period. The story follows a group of eclectic warriors and mercenaries, banded together to take down a rival to the peaceful Shogun ruler.

The game revolves around each character and their unique abilities and skills. The first being Hayota a quick and nimble ninja, armed with a shuriken and a grappling hook, Mugen, a bulky Samurai, strong enough to take down two enemies at once but not as agile as nifty Hayota, Takuma an immobile sniper , Yuki a smaller assassin who has traps and an aoe lure and Aiko, a spy with the ability to disguise herself.

The fun in Shadow Tactics comes into play with the application, how do you apply the specialized agents to the environment? And what angle you’ll approach from (literally and figuratively, you can twist the camera around to completely change how the level looks to fit your strategy)? You’ll find yourself distracting using sake bottles, knocking out civilians, taking out enemies with a long-range rifle and hiding bodies – sometimes one by one, and sometimes all in unison using a planning tool called shadow mode. Nothing is more satisfying than setting up your custom plan of action, waiting for the right moment and hitting executes to watch your brilliant tactician skills come to fruition. This is all done through understanding the games of the brilliant level design, you’ll find out that each character actually perfectly slots into the environment like a 16-piece puzzle, it will just take you a while to figure out the bigger picture.

The source of frustration is either one of two things: impatience or lack of proper planning. This is usually because levels can appear short, but the amount of engagement forces you to think and rethink continuously. Personally, I get impatient when I haven’t successfully completed something in a certain set of time so I’ll sometimes force my way through a level, sloppily hitting quick save and reloading faster than Nintendo’s powerglove lifespan – clearly I didn’t learn from my brother’s outbursts because In no time I found myself rage quitting pacing around the house shouting only to head back to my familiar controller.

Now it may seem like a complicated game to be playing on the PS4, but it’s surprisingly easy – I’m quite glad my first experience of Shadow Tactics was on the PS4 because everything seemed to just make sense. Swapping out items, placing markers, changing characters, using abilities – the controlling felt smooth and simple.

Shadow Tactics is a game I know I won’t finish in a single sitting, just because each level is like taking a giant bite out of one of those massive burgers you always see on your Facebook feed. While the burger itself is probably the best meal you’ll have in a while, eating the entire thing in one bite will leave you lying on the floor hating yourself, rather take it slow, enjoy it piece by piece – it’s a master crafted game, which deserves tactical appreciation and patience.

Disclaimer: Review code was provided by the developers.