If you’ve ever played the old Commandos games, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun will feel quite familiar, albeit taking place in the Japanese Edo period rather than during World War 2. This is one of the very few games on current generation consoles which feels quite unique, because there aren’t many of these types of games around any more.
Shadow Tactics starts of with an attack on Osaka Castle, which is destroyed in a siege by an armed force. You’re role as a ninja is to avoid all the guards and civilians stealthily during the tutorial. The opening event looks and feels great to play in it’s isometric viewpoint. Each mission is based in an open environment similar to this, but which vary a lot, and match the Edo period perfectly, although some may be slightly cliche such as the cherry blossoms.
You play as a group of five mercenaries who have been hired to investigate the corruption of the shogunate. Every character has his or her own special abilities. For example, Mugen is of a large build, and is therefore able to take on larger enemies, or Aiko who can disguise herself as an NPC and distract guards. With this variety of characters, there is also a variety of ways to play the games. You can choose to kill all your enemies, or simply pacify them if you want to go for the non-violent option, or you may decide it’s not worth the fight at all. However, you often need to combine all three of these tactics, and all the various characters depending on the situation, and that’s where the fun is in Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun.
Each character is developed through his or her own story arc, but this isn’t a story-heavy game. A lot of it is explained through general conversation throughout missions.