Starting the arcade world on Xbox Live for 2013, 17-Bit releases Skulls of the Shogun, a turn based strategy game set in medieval times. This will be released on multiple platforms such as Xbox 360, Windows Phone, Surface and Windows 8, so it must not be a shocker that this is published by Microsoft. As a fan of Strategy turned based games I have to say that I’m really excited to review this especially since this is doing something that no one has done before with Microsoft products, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.
General Akamoto is battling in his greatest fight, until he is stabbed in the back by a mysterious figure and sent to the land of the dead. He thought that being killed was the worst thing to happen to him, but when he arrives to the Shores of the Dead finding out someone has been impersonating him, and must find his way through the four seasons of the Afterlife to find out who it is. There is little dialogue in the story, but it does have its funny moments from time to time.
The object of the game is to take down the enemies general and to also protect yours from being defeated. Each round you and the enemy will get five turns to do what you want with your soldiers. This would involve moving them, attacking, healing or haunting structures to build up your army. Once you beat the general it doesn’t matter how many soldiers are left on the screen, the match is over for that team. The general has the most health and can attack multiple times, but doesn’t do that much and this may be due to the fact that you shouldn’t just rush your general into battle like you would a King in chess.
There are many different types of soldiers you can control. Infantry is your basic unit who has the most defense, but short range and walking distance. Cavalry ride on horses with the least amount on attack, but can move farther in distance. And last, archers have a great distance and attacking strength, but have the lowest defense of them all. You will later be able to obtain monks from spirits you meet in the four seasons you travel. These spirits will allow you to control the monks spirits in shrines that you haunt. Each monk is its own special caster; the Fox Monk is your healer, the Salamander Monk loves to attack with fire and lighting and Crow Monk is more for support and uses wind attacks. When leveling each Monk they unlock a new ability that can either help their allies or pulverize their enemies.
Eating skulls is a very important part of having your army grow and to unlock new abilities. Once you kill an enemy you can devour their skull to help your character grow. It will always add more health, also heal you, and once you eat three of them your character is fully upgraded going into a demon form. Once you are in the demon form your soldiers are stronger, attacking twice instead of once, and your casters will gain new skills with each skull.
Something I respect out of any game is when they use the environment to their advantage. You can collect rice to gain new troops or cast higher spells, you can knock enemies off of cliffs, throw them into thorns to deal more damage, and if they are on ice you can knock them further back.
For an arcade game this was actually very challenging as well. You really need to think ahead of yourself or that one move you made five rounds ago may have been your downfall. The online experience was put together very well, and I can see it lasting very long. You can either play local or online with four other people with teams or a good free for all. However, this online is different from any other, and very unique. Skulls of the Shogun is a cross-platform game, so even if you are playing this on the Xbox your friend can join you playing it on Windows 8. I wish more developers would do this, but I highly doubt it.
Overall I loved the game. If turn based strategy games is something that you have enjoyed from the past then download this as soon as you get the chance. While it can be frustrating from time to time it does have a lot of replay value in it, and that is always a good thing. I’m Tony from Video Games Made Me Do it, and thanks for watching.