Shikhondo: Soul Eater launched 5 September 2018 on the Nintendo Shop, and is also available for a reasonable price on PC on Steam, PS4 and XBO. It was developed and published by DeerFarm. It is an arcade bullet-hell shooter.
AIR Entertainment obtained a digital copy of the game from Digerati for review purposes.
If you are subscribed to AIR Entertainment’s Youtube Channel, you can catch a glimpse of AIR Entertainment’s gameplay videos along with some other game videos. Here is our gameplay for Shikhondo:
If any of you who have read my introduction above are wondering what a bullet-hell game is, let me briefly explain. It is exactly what it says. Bullet-hell is the description for games that throw millions of bullets your way while you attempt to dodge them and fight enemies at the same time.
And that is precisely what Shikhondo: Soul Eater (SSE) offers. The minimal story line spreads over only 5 stages, but there are different modes to play them in. The main premise is that you can select one of two characters to take one enemies and bosses to protect someone called Yokai from Limbo. To do this, you need to destroy enemies and harvest souls in order to extricate her soul from Limbo.
The Game modes include Arcade, Hardcore, Boss Rush and Local Co-op, and there are also leaderboards. The story, enemies and bosses are all inspired by Asian mythology, which makes the game rather special, especially for Asian gamers.
Other than this, there isn’t much to go on in terms of a story. You will learn about Yokai and some Asian mythology, but there isn’t much to compel you in terms of a storyline. There is no backstory, no character reveal or development or nothing really that you learn about the characters as you proceed. There is more focus placed on the bullet storm than the actual story.
I haven’t enjoyed a good arcade shoot-em-upper in a very long time. Every since the good old Nintendo and Atari days back in the 80’s and 90’s. In terms of gameplay, SSE is really fun to play. The bullets really do rain on you, and it becomes really fun to try and dodge them as much as possible to build up that gauge.
You absorb souls by staying close to bullets as they pass you and full your Soul Gauge. Once this meter is full, you unleash a super attack that destroys almost everyone on your screen. Most of the time you spend filling that meter as quickly as possible just for that explosion.
What makes SSE fun to play is the local co-op mode. Which means that you and a friend or loved one can trash the enemy on the same screen together. The game was built for trying to get the highest scores, so you and your buddy will be competing for those. Controls are relatively easy on the Switch. Move and shoot, move and shoot, and boom! Superpower.
The enemy selection is also fun, with bosses that are satisfying to defeat. You simply learn their shooting patterns, avoid as much as possible while staying close to the bullets (pretty easy in a bullet-hell game, since they are everywhere), and then blast the bosses back to the hell they came from.
Not that it is all sunshine and roses. Later stages, especially in hardcore mode, are severely intense and will test your maneuverability skills to the max. And may also leave you in tears. For beginners, you may become frustrated and wonder if you were ever meant to pass the level. For veterans, your abilities to avoid and shoot will be tested.
SOUND AND GRAPHICS
I personally feel that the graphics is what makes this game such an awesome one to play. The background has some great Asian motifs and imagery to behold. The bullets come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. It reminds me of the Windows Media Player visualisations that you can select from when playing music.
And when the bullet storms begin, the images are intense. Your whole screen can full up with gorgeous patterns as the bullets swirl around to destroy you. I am amazed at the detail that was put into the design of the enemies and their hailstorm of bullets. It really is a beauty to behold and the main treasure of the game.
The music is extremely intense. It feels like you’re in an Asian rave club, which is very appropriate for the game. The music fuels your adrenaline, making you excited to blow up the next boss. There are some really great soundtracks that bring the beauty of the Oriental sound to your Switch.
Annnndd… that’s about it. Your bullets will silently hit your enemies, and theirs you, without a boom or a bang or even the sound of wind passing, pun intended. All you will hear is the gorgeous music accompaniment, but no sounds of the bullet war that you are engaged in.
Which is maybe a good thing. With so many bullets flying around, that may actually have destroyed the soundtrack, or removed the reason for it being there. In retrospect, it may have been a good choice to remove the sounds of battle from the game, but the choice to have it in or not in the audio menu might have been preferable.
Shikhondo: Soul Eater is a fun, arcade shoot-em-upper that will send you through the bullet storms of limbo to save Yokai. It has gorgeous Oriental themes and a wonderful soundtrack to accompany the stunning graphical patterns as you blast your way through the stages. The only thing that could have improved the game is a better selection of characters and a more compelling story. Other than that, a really enjoyable game for the score attackers out there.
Shikhondo: Soul Eater receives 8/10 for an overall score.
Disclaimer: AIR Entertainment obtained a digital copy for reviewing purposes. This review is the author’s own opinion and not influenced by the developer in any way, as per our reviewing Code of Ethics.
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