Skulls of the Shogun is finally here! The game that we have been eagerly awaiting since we first interviews Jake Kazdal of 17Bit games during PAX East 2011. Back then, 17Bit was Haunted Temple, but there is no reason to hold that against them.
Skulls of the Shogun is a fast paced, arcade style, asynchronous turn based strategy game. A mix of retro style game play, anime style graphics, and traditional Japanese sound with modern beats. It’s easy to learn, hard to master and a lot of time, effort, and polish has gone into its creation.
Similar to other asynchronous turn based games, Hero Academy comes to mind, Skulls is given to you in a very easy to learn and understand format. Long ago are the days of complex instructions, or having to flip through menu after menu. It’s simplified even further with each button on the controller being mapped to a specific action. Learning how to play is amusing with a very tongue in cheek tutorial that covers all the aspects of combat. If you miss something in the tutorial, no problem as there is a well written set of instructions in the options.
Speaking of tongue in cheek, the single player story is loaded with entertaining jokes. None of the humor is forced and the writing is stellar, but the overall story is generic and expected: The greatest general in all of Japan is betrayed, thus he seeks out vengeance in the afterlife. The dialogue between characters, however, turns the generic into the hilarious as you romp through the afterlife claiming skull after skull. Each of the “boss” characters is well developed as well as amusing, which will keep pushing you to beat the next level.
The 20 single player missions aren’t a breeze to fight through either. The AI offers up a decent amount of challenge and is designed to teach you how to better play the game. Each stage takes a fair bit of thought and strategy to beat, and skill is needed in order to complete the golden skull challenges.
The multiplayer is where Skulls of the Shogun shines the brightest. One of the biggest features is the ability to play with folks that have the game for Windows 8 (either PC or Surface) and Windows Phones. In fact this is the first game for Xbox that crosses over into the tablet and phone platform (Shadow Run was the first in terms of PC to Xbox 360). When you have a move waiting for you, the game notifies you immediately while you are in the main menu. You can also play in real time with other players on Xbox live, and you can add friends that are sitting on the couch next to you to play online as well.
Whether you are a fan of turned based games or not, you can’t go wrong with Skulls of the Shogun. It’s very easy to learn, fun to play, and extremely fast paced. The single player story will have you howling with laughter, all the while teaching the more advanced strategies needed to compete online. The love and polish put into this game shows, and you should have it in your libraries – No really, go get it NOW! or at least try the demo.