Screenshot of Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun Cover Image

What is Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun?

Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun was developed by Mimimi and belongs to the stealth real-time tactics genre. The videogame bears many similarities to the Desperados and Commandos titles and can be played on both computers and Xbox one consoles. Its 3-D environments are more complex and players can get better vantage points by rotating the camera. The game received great ratings on both platforms and was the proud recipient of prestigious German Developer Awards.

Key facts about Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun

  • Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun relies heavily on stealth mechanics at the expense of brute force.
  • The game is complex, encourages players to use the environment, rely on tactics and it rewards patience.
  • Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun has convincing characters and top-notch dialogues
  • Level designs are fascinating and players need to use versatile tactics for each mission.
  • Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun has a steep learning curve and is unforgiving with beginners.

Gameplay of Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun

The Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun gameplay is centered on the real-time tactics videogame genre. Players control a team of five characters or less and their mission is to infiltrate enemy bases. This is where similarities with Commandos series shine the brightest, as stealth is the key game mechanic.

The defended compounds can’t be stormed and brute force is almost never a solution. Players must use different tactics to break in and there is no single strategy that works all the time. A steep learning curve can have a deterring effect on those who play the game for the first time. Newcomers will die a lot and they will have to return to the same mission over and over again to secure completion.

The characters in the team of five have unique abilities and in most missions players need to use them all. The emphasis is on preventing guards from seeing any of these characters or corpses. Once they do, they are quick to sound the alarm and players risk being overrun. Enemies have limited vision and this is depicted by a cone that changes its position as they move around. Eliminating guards one by one is the key to success, as the spawning of additional soldiers will lead to the untimely demise of the entire team.

Much of the gameplay of Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun revolves around observation and planning. Players undertake few decisive actions throughout each mission, but they need to get them right every single time. Proper planning and the ability to predict the actions of guards and patrols will allow players to swiftly complete scenarios. They need to isolate their opponents, distract them by using various contraptions and pick them up individually.

Screenshot of Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun Village
Screenshot of Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun Village

Five Characters with Deadly Abilities

There are a total of five characters that players can control, but in most missions they don’t have access to all of them. Hayato is the one players use to take out enemies from a great distance, using the shuriken. He can’t annihilate samurais, but the shuriken can be retrieved to be used again. Furthermore, this character is the perfect choice for distraction, as he can throw pebbles at guards to catch their eye.

When players need to set traps for the unsuspecting foes, they rely upon Yuki. Her flute draws opponents into those straps, but she can’t kill samurai either. For this difficult task, Mugen is the one to use extensively, as he’s the only one who can fight them in melee. He is also a samurai and uses his Sword Wind ability to take out up to three guards simultaneously. This is also the strongest character, capable of lifting barrels or corpses and throwing them around with ease.

Aiko is perfectly adapted for stealth missions, since she can use the disguise of a geisha or priestess. First, players need to retrieve the proper clothes and she can also distract the guards. The only ones she can’t streak with her costumes are the ever dangerous samurai. The best Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun character for distracting opponents is Takuma can sidetrack up three enemies at the time. He is armed with grenades and a sniper rifle, so he can take out guards from a distance just like Hayato.

Enemies wield spears and firearms, but guards are more vulnerable than the samurai. They are immune to most forms of attack and can only be killed by Mugen. Unarmed civilians cause a greater ruckus when they panic and trigger the guards.

Screenshot of Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun Bridge
Screenshot of Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun Bridge

Plot of Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun

The story of Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun is set in the Edo period in Japan. A warlord called Kage-sama tries to unravel the plans of a new shogun who unified the country. The newly anointed leader of Japan sends the samurai Mugen to find out more about the identity of his opponent. In order to succeed, the samurai recruits four other characters, each wielding different weapons and abilities. Hayato is a ninja, Aiko a spy, Takuma is a deadly sharpshooter while Yuki was previously a thief.

As the party embarks on the epic quest of determining the identity of the new warlord, they run into unexpected trouble. On the road, they kill the allies of Kage-sama, with the most difficult fights being the ones against general Okkoto and Lord Yabu. Despite making significant progress, they don’t learn much about the plans of their archenemy. In the second half of the single player campaign, much is revealed, once the party is trapped by Kage-sama. He is exposed to be general Noboru the shogun’s brother.

Players learn more about his intentions of plunging the entire country into war, as peace doesn’t suit his plans. Mugen is forced to disclose the place where the shogun’s son is taking shelter and the boy gets murdered by Noboru's son. Overcome by guilt, Mugen commit suicide, but his party escapes and they find a way of catching the murderer. They bring him back in chains to the shogun, before returning to Noboru's castle for an assassination mission.

The single player campaign concludes with the four comrades carrying out the final order of killing the shogun’s brother. Once the mission is accomplished, the party disbands and Japan returns to peace.

Development of Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun

Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun development took nearly 2 years, as the team wanted to get everything right. They staked a lot on the once popular concepts of Commandos and Desperadoes, but wanted to improve them significantly. The result was a game that isn’t easy to beat, with complex mechanics and a steep learning curve. Great graphics, a stellar soundtrack and the perks of using 3-D environments fully justified the long time spent in the making.

Screenshot of Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun Stealth
Screenshot of Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun Stealth

Players can also take advantage of the environment and use it to sneak upon unsuspecting opponents. Everything from bushes to crates and walls can be used for cover and stay out on the line of sight. Compared to the games that served as a source of inspiration, Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun features 3-D environments. Players can rotate the camera to get better vantage points and to plan their next moves more accurately.

Where can I download Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun?

Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun can be downloaded from the Mimimi website along with their other video games. Those who want to find out more about the games that inspired this one, should also check out, Commandos and Desperadoes. Other turn-based strategy games worth considering are Total War Warhammer and Sid Meier’s Civilization VI. Mobile fans who want to experience the thrills of video games with medieval stories can find them in King’s Empire, Clash of Kings and Clash of Clans.

What are others saying about Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun?

Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun reviews highlight the difficulty of playing this game if you’re not familiar with the genre. That’s not the kind of criticism to worry the developers however, since this was their intention in the first place. There are many more Commandos fans who actually appreciate the fact that this is a game with a steep learning curve. Most of the critics were favorable in their reviews and praised the developers for creating a game with a nice story and versatile characters.

My rating of Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun

Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun felt like a breath of fresh air in an industry suffocated by FPSs. There are simply so few turn-based strategy games out there which are worth the heirs of Commandos that I really appreciate this new arrival. I like the setting of the story, the environment and I don’t mind at all that this is a difficult game to beat. I took my time and even though I failed hundreds of times, this never got me frustrated. Thumbs up for Mimimi and a review score of 9/10 for their achievement.