Skulls Of The Shogun follows the story of one General Akamoto, who is betrayed after his last victorious battle and washed up on the shores of the mysterious afterlife. Being the great and illustrious leader that he was when alive, he sets out to find the sneaky critter who’s responsible for his fate, and it’s here that he quickly rallies other dead troops to fight for his deadly cause.
It’s a refreshing twist on the well-established genre of strategy along the lines of Final Fantasy Tactics. Instead of the classic tile-based game-play that we’re used to, Skulls Of The Shogun employs a less restricted style of movement by giving you a set circle to move within. This circle changes size depending on the unit type – e.g. cavalry gets a bigger movement circle than infantry units.
This circle based game-play brings in a much more strategic way of playing because – instead of being able to see where your opponent can move by working it out through a grid system, Skulls Of The Shogun requires you to move your units with caution and plan out every tiny, little move.
What does seem to really set it apart is its ability to provide a challenging and complex gameplay experience. There’s a huge variety of game mechanics that are a joy to learn and master. For every level you’ll have the aforementioned General Akamoto at your disposal, which can be a vital asset to the tide of war a little bit later into proceedings as you must also do everything you can to protect him – because if he dies, it’s game over.
There’s also a tactic called knockback, which – like Ronseal – does exactly what it says on the tin. You can use this to your advantage if the opposing unit is near a cliff for an instant kill. You can combat this by creating a ‘Spirit Wall’ with your units, which is This is done by lining up your units next to one other to create a ‘wall’ of units, which prevents knockback of any units while also protects those behind the wall – so, generally, it’s a good idea to keep Akamoto behind one.
In a bit of a grim twist, one wonderfully strong and useful tactic at your disposal is to can eat the skulls of your defeated opponents. Each eaten skull gives your unit a bit of extra health, then – after 3 eaten skulls – your unit gets an extra attack. So, as you can imagine, it can be highly useful – especially for archer units to get in that extra ranged shot before you charge in with infantry or cavalry to strike the final blow.
17-Bit have done a great job of creating a very pretty art style for Skulls Of The Shogun. Vibrant colours and a close to cel-shaded effect keep things looking attractive and pleasing to the eye. The script is also rather witty and fantastic - Skulls Of The Shogun is definitely not a game that takes itself too seriously, which is what allows this script to be a complete joy to read.
Skulls Of The Shogun is undeniably fun to play and it’s really nice to see a game break away from the norms of strategy titles and put it’s own fun and challenging twist on a genre that has always seemed keen on sticking to the typical formula. Every new game mechanic that has been introduced works seamlessly with the game and it’s incredibly smooth experience to play.
Audio/Visual – 4/5: Visuals are very appealing to the eye and really quite different to anything else.
Gameplay – 4/5: It’s a really fun little game and a very good challenge to keep you occupied for a long time.
Innovation – 5/5: It’s a refreshing twist on the classic Strategy titles. Using some new game mechanics to make it a really interesting gaming experience.
Value – 5/5: A lot of gameplay value to get through here so it\s great bang for your buck.
Final score: 4.5/5