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Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun Is A Must-Play Stealth Game — Especially At Its PlayStation Sale Price

A silent success.

key art for Shadow Tactics Blades of the Shogun
Daedalic Entertainment
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Last August, developer Mimimi Games released one of the best stealth games ever made — then abruptly announced it was closing its doors for good just a week later. Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew was a fitting send-off for the team, representing maybe the best example of one stealth subgenre ever made. While Mimimi unfortunately won’t be releasing a follow-up, Shadow Gambit wasn’t the studio’s first stealth tactics game. Luckily, you can pick up the very first for dirt cheap during PlayStation’s Days of Play sale.

In many ways, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun set the template for the later Shadow Gambit. As a real-time stealth tactics game, it follows in the footsteps of earlier titles like Desperados and Commandos, but stands on its own as a classic of the genre.

Daedalic Entertainment

If you’ve never played a stealth tactics game and don’t know how they work — well, the clue is in the genre’s name. The goal of each level is to complete your objective (usually assassinating important targets) without being seen. Or at least, without leaving any witnesses alive. But unlike more familiar stealth games like Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid, it resembles a real-time strategy game in presentation, with a top-down camera that gives you a full view of the action and multiple characters to control.

That change in perspective makes a huge difference in how the game plays. Rather than creeping through corridors and trying to get the drop on roaming guards, you have as much time as you need to observe enemy patrols and scout out cover before making your move. Environments are full of gifts for keen-eyed players, from rooftops to hide on to interactive objects that can help you take out enemies without ever unsheathing your blade. And since you have so much time and information to use to plan your strikes, Shadow Tactics can afford to make things difficult. Really difficult. You can easily spend hours on a single map, meticulously plotting and executing your infiltration. It’s definitely slow-going, but that just makes the payoff when the pieces finally fall into place more satisfying.

Daedalic Entertainment

Each member of your squad brings their own skills and specialties to missions. Samurai Mugen is lumbering and slow, but the best at taking out enemies directly. Yuki the thief can draw guards away from their posts for silent takedowns. Takuma the sniper is the least maneuverable of the bunch, but can target foes from extreme distances. Learning how to use every member of your five-person team in tandem is a big part of Shadow Tactics, and a rewarding skill to master. You can even pause to issue orders to multiple units at once, then sit back and watch their spectacular synchronized strike when you restart time.

While the real meat of Shadow Tactics lies in plotting stealthy infiltrations of occupied towns and castles, there’s a surprisingly gripping story connecting your missions. Unlike Shadow Gambit, the story of Shadow Tactics is grounded and dark to match its perilous gameplay. While investigating a new warlord threatening the stability of Edo period Japan, the crew becomes embroiled in a political struggle with some unexpected twists and turns to make all that sneaking and stabbing you do during missions feel a bit more meaningful.

Unfortunately, for all it has going for it, Shadow Tactics won’t be getting a sequel (or even a direct spiritual successor) from the original developer. Before releasing Shadow Gambit and closing in 2023, Mimimi also released Desperados III, a new entry in an older stealth tactics series that builds on the ideas of Shadow Tactics. Between Mimimi’s three stealth tactics titles, you could have nearly 100 hours of incredible games to play and the very best place to start is Shadow Tactics, so you can see the genre’s evolution across the past decade. And until June 12, you can pick up Shadow Tactics for just $3.99 on PSN, or included with PlayStation Plus Extra.

Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is available now on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation.

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