Review: Skulls of the Shogun


I have to admit, I haven’t played a turn-based…no wait, let me rephrase that! I haven’t played a FUN turn-based strategy sinceWorms. You know those little guys that go cabloey? If you haven’t played Worms, I strongly suggest that you take off your belt and hit yourself repeatedly with it.

There is a specific breed that enjoys strategy games. The sort that rarely ever steps outside and is allergic to human contact. Those who create elaborate plans and direct systematical operations in the laundry room. Yes, those friends!

So what is Skulls of the Shogun then? If you haven’t guessed yet, SotS is a hilariously and brilliantly written turn-based strategy game. The design is morbidly fun in a non-Tim Burton way. More like Dexter’s Lab if they all were walking skeletons from early Japanese history. The game begins by presenting a devastating battlefield or fun genocides of war, your pick. Where you—a general of sorts—have defeated every little obstacle and are now going to rule the Japanese as Shogun! Hurray! Faith was never so kind and lady luck always has a cruel sense of humor. You are stabbed in the back by an unknown pile of jerk and left for dead.

Once you regain your consciousness you awake on a ship that sails you across the sea. Your destination? A resort for dead bunk buddies. You are now in the land of the dead. As the thought is settling in, you are approached by a guard who tells you to get in line.sotssp-18

This is where the fun starts. As “almost” Shogun, ruler of all Japan, you find yourself standing in line offensive! Especially considering that the waiting time is 512 years and counting.  I guess the general has never attended black Friday at Macy’s.

There in which comes the battle tutorial in play! So far you have only your general to teach those pesky afterlife guards that you are too important to stand in line. You’ll learn attack and positioning tips where you, with ease, destroy your opponent.

sotssp-5As the game progresses you’ll get several different players and characters on the board with the usual standard of fighters, archers, cavalry, monks, and your general of course. Reach and movement are all different depending on who you move. It’s pretty straight forward. If you are launching a cavalry, make sure to select the opposition that shivers and shutters. That way you’ll know you’ll strike a successful blow. Your primary mission is to get into the afterlife without standing in line. During the gameplay you find out some neat and unique tricks to defeat your enemy. Like knockbang, where you push the opponent off the ledge if they stand too close to it.

I took a short break and found my husband playing the game. If something XBL arcade pulled him away from his PC, that’s a good sign.

The Good

  • Great design
  • Capturing story that is entertaining and fun
  • Creative sound clips and music
  • A good increase in difficulty
  • Charming characters

The bad

  • Controls – I do not believe in double confirmation of an action
  • Longevity issue, I don’t think I’ll play it more times then I already did
  • Demon powers vanish after a stage has been completed
  • Tells you too much of what to do

The final word

I am in no means a strategy player. I’ve always found them boring and repetitive. This one captures my attention and is actually in all sense “fun”. I think it has a genius design and a fantastic written story. I think it can certainly be worth your time, even if it’s for the story alone. I also do think that it can be a big hit when it comes to VS online play. I rarely ever play online so to me a game needs to be able to stand on it’s own without the possibility of multi-player. In my opinion, it did. Skull of the Shogun provides entertainment and some brain gymnastics that we sorely need, because our youth is getting dumber while I am getting older. I am afraid of the future!


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