Steam Library: Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun

Dear friends, today we have a rare bird as our guest – isometric real-time tactics. Your humble servant has managed to forget that such entertainment exists at all. And here, you understand, you immediately get a rare gaming formula, and samurai Japan is right outside, and in general. It is decisively impossible to pass by.

Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun gives us five heroes, whose fate throws them from one mission to another in different combinations. We meet three of them – the hired assassin Hayato, the samurai loyalist Mugen, and the sniper Takuma – right away in the tutorial mission, while the two ladies, the thief Yuki and the, uh, spy (a real spy, with disguises and gagging guards) Aiko, join us a little later.

As the name of the game suggests, the strategy for the squad throughout the game will be the same – to pick off weak links in the enemy’s defense one by one, preferably without noise and dust. Our quintet has a wide variety of tactics at their disposal, from throwing shurikens (yes, just one shuriken, you’ll have to run and pick it up later) from around the corner to performing acrobatics with a tanuki. The essence is the same – while samurais Vasya and Petya don’t see anything for various reasons, samurais Yuri and Kolya get hit in the back and retreat to the nearest bushes.

Naturally, the above-mentioned game laws sometimes don’t go hand in hand with common sense. It’s especially amusing to watch how samurais start running around the map like crazy when they see a corpse with a slit throat, and then ultimately ignore incidents like falling on their comrades-in-arms with a cubic meter of wood. Every first shinobi will confirm – failure of the real mission is guaranteed in both cases. The atmosphere of harsh feudal Eastern clashes is somewhat dissipated in these moments, but what can you do – realism was sacrificed for an engaging gameplay.

Maybe I just need to increase the difficulty level.

Of course, the opponents can do something too. Mostly, though, it is limited to constant surveillance, and as long as our saboteurs show caution and prudence, they are not in danger. Some of the enemy pawns are placed on the board with only one goal – to become a dishonorable victim of commandos. Someone stands right under the jump trampoline with a dagger, someone travels alone between ominous bushes, someone is simply busy repairing a wooden box and doesn’t look around… Before demanding some non-trivial tactical study from the player, Blades of the Shogun lets you feel the power. But when the moment of truth comes, then please – use the skills of all your charges, take advantage of the time, and synchronize your actions.

By the way, yes, synchronization. For this purpose, the designers have inserted a whole separate mechanic into the game. You can’t pause in BotS, but you can give orders for simultaneous execution by using Shift. Moreover, after receiving directives, our charges wait for a separate signal to start working. Finding a successful combination of maneuvers is the main joy in the game. You watch as your brilliant plan to turn a whole patrol into organic fertilizer works, and your soul rejoices.

Another matter is that before the debut performance of group ninjutsu masterpieces, there are usually about ten completely ruined doubles and five general rehearsals, where one false move ruins the whole disco. It is very difficult not to fall for the most obvious (and therefore risky and stupid) option. Fortunately, the developers not only anticipated my clumsiness but also helped me cope with it as much as they could.

First of all, they placed an autosave timer in the center of the screen. For the first ten minutes, you hate this annoying unnecessary stuff. Then you spend ten minutes contemplating your next move, miserably failing an episode in the middle of the map, and suddenly realize that the last time you saved was almost at the start of the mission. Grinding your teeth, you reload and keep an eye on the clock. After two hours of playing, the timer becomes your best friend, comrade, and brother.

Your second favorite ally becomes the actual saves. That is, they are useful by default in any game, but here the developers gave us another gift. If the map takes a long time to load for the first time, quick saves load almost instantly. The icing on the cake is that during missions, in the Esc menu, in addition to the standard list of options, there will always be three healthy icons with the latest saves. It’s all very simple and very convenient.

These two seemingly small things literally transform the game. Not the gameplay itself, but what is called “experience” due to the lack of a worthy translation. Instead of constantly poking into a separate save menu and clicking your tongue for fifteen seconds at a black screen, you simply press Esc, quickly tap on the screenshot of the last autosave, and continue the fascinating brainstorming in just three seconds.

It turns out that very little is needed for happiness.

The further into the Japanese forested mountain steppe, the more extensive the locations become and the more options your wards have to complete the task. Fortunately for lazy bipedal sloths like me, the game never puts missions on a timer, so you can think about every first combat episode as much as you want. You sit and solve puzzles for your own pleasure.

Maniacs, of course, are free to take on optional challenges. Complete the map in 15 minutes. Don’t kill anyone except the mission targets. Kill everyone. Extinguish all the torches in the location. Kill five guards by dropping a boulder off a cliff. Trap ten enemies. Don’t use traps. And so on and so forth.


Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun can be criticized for not having the most obvious hotkeys and not having the most detailed graphics in the world, but all of that is nonsense. Nonsense because playing Blades of the Shogun is so interesting that you don’t pay attention to anything or anyone except the palace patrols begging for sharpening and the traveling teapot with its maid, into which you need to add poison.

Honestly, your humble self did not expect that a strategy game with essentially a small set of mechanics and concise technical execution would captivate him so much.

In short, if you love tactical puzzles, do not pass by.

Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
Daedalic Entertainment
Mimimi Productions
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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