Release Date: January 30, 2013
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: [Reviewed:Xbox 360 [XBLA]], Windows Phone, PC
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
Rated: T for Teen
17-Bit has finally released Skulls of the Shogun. It was originally revealed back at PAX 2010 and E3 and won many nominations to only delay to go silent for quite some time. However, the time has proven to be in favor.
You play as general Akamoto, who has just died and traveled over to the afterlife. Akamoto is a samurai badass who refuses to lay down for anyone. Upon landing, Akamoto is greeted by a samuari who is completely disrespected by the general.
The general’s actions lead him to a battle that gains the attention of the other samurais wanting to join him. No one has ever seen someone like him before. Though, attempting to claim authority, his interest leads him to the line for judgment to see if he’s worthy of progressing through the four seasons of afterlife.
Skull of the Shogun is a turn-based strategy game. To have a better idea of the gamestyle, it’s like a game of chess. No matter what actions occur, you must protect your king at all times. If he dies, it’s game over. The same concept applies here, if Akamoto is unprotected and taste defeat, the game will end.
Up to 4 players can partake in capturing rice patties to purchase new samurais and archers, calling in powerful Monks, and best of all, eating skulls. You’ll have to play to get the joke in eating skulls, however, eating skulls gives you additional health (HP) and upgrades each Isuzu’s ability.
HP helps determine the attack and defense available during each attack, controlling your soldiers into battle to be victorious. Some strategy games would normally drag where Skulls of the Shogun keeps the pace quite moderate which each teams making up to five moves per turn.
Be sure to create an adequate amount of space between your troops to expand your mobility. Unlike most traditional turn-based games, Shogun has a free roaming ability that allows you to move exactly where you see fit. Careful when making these moves however, you can appear to be in an angle that will seem safe for your captain, while you’ve actually just created an unwanted opening for an archery to make an attack.
If you’re not careful, the game mechanics will easily take full advantage of you. There were times where I seemed to have the upper hand to be taking down almost instant.
Graphically, Shogun’s hand-drawn map works brilliantly, catering the overall experience. The language is captioned, but humorous, appealing to the players.
Skulls of the Shogun allows cross play between XBLA, Windows Phones and Windows 8 through online, as well as local and asynchronous multiplayer, allowing you to nudge a player and play when time allows without forfeiting the game.
Shogun is bone-crunching fun! Personally new to a turn-based platforms as such, it has everything to draw you in; great dialogue, fast-paced action and many options to keep the game going, whether on the move or in your own time. And general Akamoto wouldn’t have it any other way.
Replay Value: 4.25/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5