Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun Preview

Killing from the Shadows (with Cute Animals).

Since playing The Last Tinker – City of Colors, I have had my eye on Mimimi Productions, curious to see what they’d do next. And now that I’ve seen Shadow Tactics – Blades of the Shogun, I’m certainly excited for what’s coming. Both PC and console players will be transported to Japan’s past for this real-time strategy game, testing their stealth skills across the five playable characters. Sitting down with Dominik Abé, the game’s Creative Director, I got to take a look at how it all plays out.

Taking place during the Edo period, over the course of the story, players will be able to control Hayoto, the ninja; Yuki, a young ingénue who can lay traps; Aiko, a ninja who can disguise herself as a geisha to distract guards; Mugen, the tank of the bunch who can tackle multiple enemies at once; and Takuma, an old man who acts as the sniper. I am mostly familiar tackling stealth games as a lone gunman, so to speak, but this approach to the genre definitely has my interest piqued. Missions take place over large maps, filled with roaming guards but also multiple approaches to each task.

The first mission Abé showed me involved taking out a number of high-ranking officers in the military. Initially, only Hayoto was on the scene. After taking out a guard by working around his cone of vision, he snuck up and took him out. Then, on his way to take out another, he ran into Yuki. She had laid out a trap, whistled for a guard to come over and meet his demise. Seeing her promise, Hayoto brought her along for the ride. Further along, one of the officers was downhill from a heavy cart held in place by two crates. Staying out of view, Yuki loosened those and created the perfect “accident.”

In a later mission, taking place during the night, Hayoto’s progress was halted by a number of guards with crossing paths. For this task, Aiko took on her disguise, chatting up one guard so Hayoto can pass. In order to distract a few others, Takuma brought out a unique weapon: a tanuki. Deploying it to a space where some guards were resting, all their attention was turned to this cute critter. While the tanuki took its position, I noticed the screen displayed a visible circle, showing its effective range. I lovingly choose to refer to this as Area of Adorability. (I’ve been advised the the tanuki cannot be killed.)

Finally, even though the demo didn’t really include him, Abé showed me how Mugen works by using his Developer Mode magic to work him in. Although Mugen can take on multiple foes at once, he still must use a modicum of stealth because taking on one set of enemies in view of another leads to predictable aggro. Seeing an unfortunate situation of this sort play out, I also got to witness another feature—when one of your team enters the field of vision of an enemy, the game will slow down in order to allow you time to find a way out of harm’s way, lending to the illusion of remaining stealthy. After the demo, I have to say I’m definitely interested in F5/F9-ing my way through this adventure this fall on PS4, Xbox One, and PC!