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Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun Review (PS4) — Shogunate Commandos



Published by: Daedalic Entertainment
Developed by: Mimimi Productions
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, macOS
Genre(s): Real-time tactics
Mode(s): Single-player
Game Type: , ,
91/ 100

User Rating
11 total ratings



Interesting set-pieces. Open-ended missions. Fun combo executions. Lots of challenges.


Disorienting controls. Camera control issues.

Posted August 24, 2017 by


The concept behind Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is so brilliant, I wondered why it hadn’t been done sooner. It outright convinced me that we definitely need more real-time tactics games in all our gaming lives. As someone with fond childhood memories of the Commandos games, I couldn’t help but feel overjoyed about Shadow Tactics, despite certain control issues this console port is suffering from.


The game is loosely based on Japan’s Tokugawa period. In the year 1615, united under a new Shogun, Japan finally faces peace and stability after years of war and conflict. This peace would not be left undisturbed, however, after whispers of a new warlord named Kage-sama who seeks to overthrow the Shogun spreads. Mugen, a Master Samurai loyal to the Shogun, is tasked with tracking down Kage-sama and put an end to this rebellious incursion.


Throughout Mugen’s campaign, he gradually enlists 4 other agents at his disposal, each with their own unique sets of skills as well as disadvantages. Beyond the varying martial disciplines, their personalities are very different as well. The circumstances of their encounters and their motivations for sticking around feels largely organic, thanks to its well-written narrative. There’s really no urgency to engage in the game’s plot – in the end, it’s merely an excuse to bring your party to various environments themed around Japan’s Edo era, but there’s a character-focused story line behind Shadow Tactics that’s entertaining enough for those, like me, who would like to invest.


Shadow Tactics‘ core gameplay is modeled after the classic real-time tactics(RTT) games of old like the Commandos and Desperados series, but with a greater emphasis on stealth. You individually control 5 units, each with their own unique abilities and playstyles. It’s up to you to utilize these units effectively across the 13 available missions. 13 may look like a meager amount, but you’ll be spending countless hours in each one of these levels, especially when you decide to collect every mission’s badges. These badges range from completing the mission on the highest difficulty, to not killing anyone or killing someone in a specific way. The difficulty of these badges vary and are fun enough to effectively triple the average 15-20 hours playtime.


Each unit is vastly different from the other. Mugen, for instance, is a Master Samurai. He isn’t as stealthy as Hayato, the shinobi, but his sword-fighting skills know no equal and his strength allows him to carry up to two bodies at once and even hurl objects at great heights. Hayato the shinobi, is as nimble as he is deadly. He can kill enemies at a distance with his shuriken and can use his Hookshot to grapple atop heights Hanzo could never hope to reach.

There’s no single way to get through a level.  In my first playthrough of the games’ third mission, I stuck to the rooftops and used tightropes to sneak past a horde of guards. It was tough and with plenty of close-calls but ultimately made it to my objective. The second time around, I realized I could get on a passing carriage, whisking me away towards the other end of the level with little to no opposition. The game is so open-ended that I was really only limited by my own imagination. Some of my most rewarding accomplishments in Shadow Tactics are from executing combos amongst my units.


You won’t want to mess with Samurai units. If anyone other than Mugen tries to kill one, they’ll achieve nothing but death. In one scenario, two Samurai units are investigating the area near a brush where my Mugen is hiding. As soon as there was enough distance between the two Samurai, I pounce out of the brush and struck at one of them. We clash blades, and though this samurai is no match for my Mugen, the exchange is taking longer than anticipated. Just as the second Samurai was about to turn his head towards the tussle between me and his partner, I quickly switched to Yuki and blew her whistle, diverting the second Samurai’s attention, giving Mugen just enough time to finish his partner off and rush towards the distracted Samurai. It was an exhilarating victory that could have ended in death if not for quick thinking.


It’s great when things go according to plan, but improvising in the moment is just as rewarding. This was just one of many plan B scenarios that played out beautifully in my entire playthrough albeit with just as many failures. In Shadow Tactics, there is no autosave. You can conveniently quick save by pressing the touchpad and will hold up to three quick saves at any given time. Unless you train yourself to quick save frequently, you’ll likely find yourself in a lot of annoying redo situations like I did. Though the lack of autosaving is by design, manually keeping track of your saves is made more frustrating by the long wait times between saving and loading games. They technically don’t take that long, lasting only 2-4 seconds a pop, but you’ll be saving/loading so frequently that those seconds start to stack up.


Mimimi Productions did an impeccable job doing the impossible by translating Shadow Tactics‘ control scheme to a controller layout. The controls hold out for the most part, with mainly just the camera being the biggest issue. With a mouse, you can adjust your view by dragging the mouse cursor at the edge of the screen without losing control of the buttons assigned to the left and mouse buttons. In a controller, you’d have to take your thumb out of the face-buttons to adjust the orientation of the camera. The camera also doesn’t automatically center your active character. You’ll have to manually move your camera whilst moving or toggle center view by pressing the down button from the d-pad.


The camera locks in on your active player when pressing down, but most actions you do would just unlock it anyway. It was a bit disorientating at first, but by the third mission, I started to get used to it, with just the occasional frustrations here and there. It’s hard to give you a good sense of the controls without letting you experience it yourself, thankfully the devs feel the same way and so they went ahead and released a free demo so you guys can see for yourselves whether or not it’s up to snuff.


I love how Shadow Tactics looks. Each map took me to some interesting Japanese Edo era environments that were as fun to take in as they were to play in. You can toggle object highlights on to show you a clear view of all interactable objects. Alternately you can leave it off if you want to manually discover many of the game’s interactable objects yourself, adding up to the fun of formulating tactics. The choice is up to you because neither setting does much to obstruct from the overall aesthetics. Performance wise, the game runs pretty well considering how populated all the missions are. I only wish I could zoom in and out closer/farther so I could get some nice tactical overview or a neat screenshot of a closeup.



Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun successfully reignited my flair for real-time tactics games. It single-handedly demonstrates that 1.) There’s still a market for RTT games in this current gaming generation and 2.) that it is just as fun to play on consoles. Shadow Tactics is a worthwhile investment for even the slightest of strategy game players, and though it offers a different experience from the PC version, it’s not necessarily a lesser one. Console gamers with fond memories of Commandos or Desperados would be rejoiced to know that there’s a worthy modern successor available on their consoles right now.

Dian Raval

Dian is a writer for Flipgeeks who, in his spare time, stares at a wall in his basement. If you'd like to discuss music, video games, or the infinite wisdom of concrete, follow him on twitter @iburnandfume or subscribe to his YouTube channel @iburnandfume. He's pretty much iburnandfume in everything. Apparently he... burns and fumes.


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