Since Windows 8 was released, we have been excited about the integration of Windows devices and Xbox gaming. And while the integration part works superbly, we have been greatly lacking in titles to choose from, particularly any that have any depth or breadth to them. But now we have Skulls of the Shogun. It has been a long expected and waited for title for Xbox Gaming. The most interesting thing that comes from this title is the fact that it is the first title available for three platforms: Windows Phone, Windows 8/RT and Xbox 360. Our review will discuss the Windows RT/8 platform.
Skulls of the Shogun is not a casual game. It is a fairly deep strategy title that both casual and more hardcore gamers can enjoy. It is a turn-based strategy title that reminds me a lot of the turn-based strategy king Advance Wars. You are given a set number of troops and using those troops you have to defeat your enemies.
The basis of the gameplay is to guide your troops around the battlefield, the mechanic to do so is you touch your soldier, whether archer, infantry or cavalry and then drag them to their sot within in a circle radius, which is the extent of their mobility. They can move to anywhere in this circle, and if they run into an enemy they may attack. Combat resolves in two phases, first the attacker attacks and then the defender, if they survive and were not attacked by a ranged attack, then proceeds with a counterattack. Whenever an attack is placed the defending unit will be ‘knocked back’ unless that unit is in a ‘spirit wall,’ which is a group of three or more units group closely together. This tactic also prevents arrows being shot thought the wall. If a unit is knocked back near a cliff, that unit can fall off and instantly die. When your enemies die or your units die they drop a skull on the field, your units can then ‘eat’ your enemies skulls and your enemies can ‘eat’ your unit’s skulls. If they do this they then gain health which regenerates them, and if they are max health they gain more total health. Your main unit is your general unit, Akamoto. This is your most powerful unit, but if you lose him, you lose the game. The gameplay is simple, but requires a significant level of finesse that can be very punishing if you make the wrong move.
The story behind the game is very intriguing, and possesses a great amount of witty humor that keeps things light-hearted for all audiences. To summarize without spoiling too much, your General is Akamoto (the man with the moustache, much akin to a certain plumber), a powerful General who right as he conquered all of Japan, got stabbed in the back and died. He then arrives in the afterlife and finds himself having to wait in line to reach his paradise. This proves to not be to his liking, so he decides to fight his way to the top of the afterlife food chain. It’s fun and engaging with enough humor to keep you going.
The art style and graphics of this game are top notch. This is one of the best looking games that has been released on Windows 8/RT. The style is unique and not something that you find in every day games. The game runs almost flawlessly, and the only complaint with the controls is that the drag approach to moving be changed to a more point and click style.
Overall the gameplay is fun and I rather enjoyed this title and with it being the first major Xbox release of the year. It is easily the best title available on Windows 8/RT. I would recommend that anyone looking for a quality title on your tablet, or even you Windows Phone or Xbox pick this one up, it’s worth the 9.99 asking price (or 4.99 on Windows Phone).