The game's setting is loosely based on Japan's Edo period. A new shogun has unified Japan after years of war, but now a mysterious new warlord named Kage-sama has emerged, jeopardizing the country's stability. The shogun tasks Mugen, a samurai in his service, with determining Kage-sama's identity and alliances.
Completed the game
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a real-time tactics game. The concept is quite simple. You have several assassins to your disposal and they are dropped on a huge map and you get a few objectives. Usually you're going to kill a target.
You cannot be seen. If you are being seen lots of guards will come out and chase you down. Even if you manage to avoid them, they will stay on the map making your objective much harder to reach, so the basis is that you cannot be seen.
Each of your assassins have unique skill sets. One can use disguises to blend in. One is very strong. Another can lay traps. Together they can be used to solve any puzzle in the game. The puzzles are situation based.
So you need to get from point A to point B, but there are two guards keeping watch and another on patrol. You lure the patrol around a tent and kill him silently. Then you cannot kill one guard without alerting the other, so you setup a macro where both of your assassins will kill the guards simultaneously, and none will be alerted.
In most other similar games it comes down to how skillful you are at doing several things at once and quick reactions. This game is all about preparation and execution. You need to observe patrols, and patterns. Then you need to setup a plan on how to deal with it, and then execute. If you have a good plan it is seldom very hard to execute.
I've read about others complaining that this game is too hard, and I believe that they have not played by the rules. To me it seems like all the situations in this game has a solution. If you try to brute force it, because you can't figure out how to do it, the game will become very hard as you're swarmed with enemies. But, if you take it slow and plan every move, the game is not overly difficult. I managed to play it through without getting stuck at one point for a particular amount of time.
As a tactics puzzle game this game is very fun, and the level design is brilliant. There are always many ways to solve a puzzle or to finish the objective of a map, and it seems like all of them have been thorough thought out and tested. I can't imagine the complexity of creating these levels.
However, the game is too long for me. It requires me to think and as I use gaming for relaxing, it's seldom I feel like playing it because I'm too tired. That is why it took me nearly 3 months to finish.
Another thing that speaks against its length is that there isn't much more in terms of mechanics introduced after the third mission. So from there on it is the same game all the way through. They do manage to use the mechanics they have and combine new interesting puzzles with it, but I think I would expect much more progression especially when the game is so long.
The story is quite mundane. It's mostly there to support the game play, but it doesn't bring me any enjoyment. It is very predictable, but I do enjoy the relationships the assassins have to each other.
The graphics looks good when zoomed out, but as you zoom in it becomes quite blocky. I think the game is meant to be played on PC where you sit closer to the screen, and you don't have to zoom in as much as I need on the console. The pan and zoom is quite tedious while playing on console which I believe could be much easier doing with a mouse.
If you want to play a really good tactics game and you don't care much about story, go for it. It is fun all the way through even if I found it a bit too long.