Published on August 10th, 2014 | by JC Richardson0
Skulls of the Shogun Review
17-Bit’s Skulls of the Shogun has been wowing strategy fans on iOS and Steam for an age now, so it’s time for Android armchair generals to discover what all the fuss is about.
The trio of devs at 17-Bit have a combined CV that reads like a history of gaming: Sega, Nintendo, Irem, Sony, EA and the list goes on. It’s kind of unsurprising that Skulls is so well polished given these guys’ track record.
Skulls starts with an unusual premise – you’re already dead. That is, Great General Akamoto has fallen in battle and awoken in the queue for the afterlife, though naturally the line’s a mile long. Luckily, Akamoto doesn’t let a minor problem like death halt his ambitions, so he rebels against the skull-faced guards and gathers an army of the disgruntled undead to start the fight back to life.
Combat is deceptively simple and has none of the hexagons and squares that usually define the turn-based strategy genre. This is all very much freeform, and you can order your units anywhere that’s in their range. It makes Skulls a much more fluid experience than most, but that’s not to say there’s any less depth here. Your units, being undead and all, can consume the skulls of fallen enemies to boost their health and eventually allow them to unleash their inner demons to highly satisfying effect. Place units next to each other and they gather a defensive bonus, too.
The General himself sits lost in meditation as your lesser units fight it out, slowly gathering his strength until you awaken him, often resulting in the game ending with ridiculous boss vs boss fights. You have to balance your attack and defense wisely, as the AI doesn’t take any prisoners, mind.
Graphically, Skulls is just beautiful with its bobble-head art style and cartoony environments, and the sound design deserves special mention too. It’s got a Samurai movie trip hop vibe that would make Wu-Tang proud, though more tracks would be nice.
Skulls of the Shogun is one of those perfect packages that doesn’t come along too often, mixing genuinely deep gameplay with a superlative graphic style to great effect. It’s a long game that’s well worth the paltry price, contains no IAPs whatsoever and even throws in various types of online play too.
Summary: Skulls of the Shogun is a pitch-perfect mix of fun and strategy, perfect for lone generals or the more social kind with it's smooth multiplayer experience.