Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun Is Great, but I Suck at It
The headline says it all. Isometric stealth-'em-up Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a great game and I've enjoyed what I've played. It's just that I've struggled so much with the opening level that I haven't been able to get past it.
There's a lot I could tell you about Shadow Tactics. I could tell you I liked the Edo Japanese setting, and how much I enjoyed skulking around and using the different skills of a ninja, samurai and rifle-wielding marksman to achieve my goals.
I could talk about how, if you were a fan of Commandos and Desperados, this feels like a modern iteration with the top-down view and style of play instantly recognisable, albeit with higher fidelity graphics and better tutorials.
I'd even, given the chance, say that I loved the initial moments of the game; running around as the silent ninja, avoiding enemy lines of sight, tucking bodies away and clambering across rooftops and over walls to take advantage of the verticality present in the level design.
What I can't tell you is how the game is long-term, once you get past that first level, because, well, I can't get past it. I've struggled to get to grips with the game's 'shadow' mechanic, where you can queue up multiple actions at the same time, and without this or any actual technical skill in the game, progression was nearly impossible.
This doesn't make it a bad game, of course. The signposting was there, and I was enjoying myself; it's just that I struggled to get anywhere with it, spending four hours on the first level before swallowing my pride and slinking off to an easier target. I tried a few more attempts, but the learning curve tipped me back to the bottom.
The amount of polish and care that's gone into Shadow Tactics is obvious, and its launch in November against a lot of heavy hitters means that it might have been overlooked, and that'd be a big shame, because although I suck at it, it's a good stealth game you might want to pick up.
Of course, the game might be terrible after the first level, or you might get stumped on the first level like I was, but what's life without a little excitement, eh?