Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a tactical stealth game, set in the Edo period of Japanese history. You control a squad of infiltration specialists, trying to uncover a plot to overthrow the Shogun.
Pro Mentally stimulating stealth gameplay
This game pushes your problem-solving skills to the extreme, presenting stealth missions that almost feel like puzzles. You'll carefully navigate each level using one of the five infiltration specialists, creating distractions, cycling hiding spots, and assassinating enemy guards along the way. To make it even more interesting, the AI is quite intelligent, quickly reacting to anything you do without giving you any leeway. Because your actions have clearly defined reactions, it can be really fun to plan out your strategy for a level, so when your grand plan finally succeeds, it can feel incredibly satisfying.
Pro Well-designed levels
There are 13 levels in total, each one having unique terrain, buildings, and enemy layouts. From rural settlements with run-down buildings, to imposing fortresses on cliffs and riverbanks. No two levels ever feel or play alike. Even though some of the more difficult levels can take up to 4 hours or more to complete initially, there's enough variety to keep it interesting from start to finish.
Pro Spectacular visuals
Even though Shadow Tactics isn't a high budget game, the visuals look great, featuring excellent lighting, intricate shadow mapping, vivid water effects, detailed character models, and very polished, cel shaded textures. All of this helps bring the Edo period of Japanese history to life, allowing you to appreciate armor-clad Samurai and beautiful structures with curved roofs in their full splendor, which makes the experience a lot more enjoyable.
Con Can be really frustrating
Shadow Tactics is a very difficult game, requiring a lot of trial and error to beat a level. This involves memorizing level layouts, enemy locations, and guard patrol routes. The game even goes as far as to remind you when you last saved, implying that it's really easy to mess up. A slight mistake can quickly result in failing a mission, which is extremely frustrating if you've been stuck at a section for some time, giving it a similar feeling to constantly banging your head on a wall.
Con Camera angles can sometimes get in the way of gameplay
ST: BotS is played from an isometric prespective, requiring you to rotate your camera quite often to get a proper overview of levels, especially because there's no transparency system. While this isn't a problem in slow sections of the game, the instant you have to make quick decisions, it becomes very easy to miss guards hiding behind carts, buildings, and even walls just because you didn't have the proper camera angle. Because of this, it sometimes might feel like you're not only fighting against the challenging AI, but also the game itself.