Review of Skulls of the ShogunPublisher: Microsoft Studios Developer: 17-Bit Platform: Xbox Live Aracde, Microsoft Surface, Windows Phone, PC Release date: January 30, 2013 Genre: Turn-based strategy Price: 1200 MSP, $8.99 for PC, and $4.99 for Windows Phone
Skulls of the Shogun is a turn-based strategy game that contains a great campaign, as well as a very in-depth combat system. The story follows a fallen General as he tries to rise to power once again. The game is not just a good combat system, it is also a very good-looking game, and has a very sharp wit to go along with its looks. This game may be one of the best turn-based strategy games that has come out in recent times.
There are two key aspects to the campaign that make it good. First it has a good story line, and second, the battles that you are put into are well thought out. The story follows General Akamoto as he battles his way through the afterlife to become the Shogun of the dead. The story has several twists and turns that make it fun and intriguing. The second part that makes the campaign good is the scenarios that you are put in. Not only are the scenarios very different from each other, there are objectives that you can choose to try and get for each one.
The game has many strong parts; one of the strongest may be the art style. The cartoony style mixes well with the Japanese influences. Also, the semi 2-D world fits well with the Japanese art style. I personally think it is one of the better looking games that uses a non-traditional graphics style.
The combat portion is another one of the stronger portions of the game. The combat is turn-based where a player gets to move all of their units before the turn ends. This sort of combat leads to allowing a good strategist to use their units very efficiently, while giving inexperienced players enough leeway to survive. There are several different types of units that allow players to play with almost any style they want to use. There are fast quick strike units that allow you to play with a fast and loose style. There are also several units that allow the player to play defensively and try to minimize losses. No matter what type of units the player is given, the mechanics of the game can be used so that your style of play can be used to win the battle.
The mechanics that are apart of the combat make the combat different every time, based upon the environment. There are several key environmental aspects that can change the way the battle can go. There are rocks that block sight lines, as well as bamboo patches that lower the percentages of hitting. Another of the key environmental features is that units can be knocked off of ledges, which plays into most of the positioning of units. The last game mechanic that can affect a battle significantly is being able to recruit new units. This is done by capturing a shrine, and using rice, which is gained from capturing small specific spaces on the field to pay for new units, which could turn the tide of the battle.
Another of the great aspects to the game is that it is very funny. I enjoy humor in a game more than anything. This is because the big triple A titles are trying to be more gritty and realistic, which can give those games a slightly depressing atmosphere. With Skulls of the Shogun, the game does not take its self seriously which allows for a lot of very funny dialogue while playing the campaign. The best lines are from the enemy and the units on the field, who deliver witty one-liners when the time is right.
The multiplayer allows for players to play against each other and test their tactics against a real person. Playing against a person in Skulls of the Shogun is very much like playing chess against another person. You never know exactly what the other person is going to do, and this adds to the fun of the game. There is one downside to playing against another person though, and that is that it’s really easy to get behind. And because of the way the mechanics of the game work, it can be very difficult to come from behind and win. However, if a player can play a mistake free game, then it is almost assured to give that player a win — it just can become frustrating when even the slightest mistake can lead to a lose.
The game has a good story and a well thought out combat system. There are very few flaws in the game. The only flaw comes when playing against a much more experienced human opponent. If the other player is able to gain a slight advantage, then that advantage can be exploited significantly. But aside from that, it is one of the most well put together games in recent memory.
Skulls of the Shogun gets an 8 out of 10
A review copy was provided for review.