Shikhondo- Soul Eater
Bullet-hell games are fun. Extremely fun. Granted, this is largely my own opinion, but being able to avoid millions of tiny things all at once while trying to fire back at enemies? This is something I really enjoy. One such series that is popular in the genre is the Touhou Project, A rather famous (or infamous depending on how you view bullet-hell games) set of titles that successfully shows you how to properly make a bullet-hell. So, does Shikhondo – Soul Eater live up to games like the Touhou project or get blown out of the park by its own bullets?
Let’s go over the things that stood out to me in Shikhondo. First off, the art style is beautiful. Being hand drawn, I was honestly stunned at how well it looks. The art style feels genuinely unique and how it’s presented adds to that factor. Even the bullets look nice, making patterns and designs that are pleasing to the eyes. It’s nothing like the realistic graphics that modern games have nowadays, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t well made. In fact, I would go to say that the art style is the one thing that makes Shikhondo stand out from the competition.
It may be simple, but the story for Shikhondo is interesting and can be summarized in one sentence: Yokai have escaped limbo, and it’s up to our two heroines, The Grim Reaper and The Girl with no name, to destroy and collect them. Each Heroine has different attacks, which leads to a slight difference in playstyle. The Grim Reaper has a spread attack which fire butterflies, but with a press of a button you get a more concentrated alternate fire. The girl, however, shoots in a straight path with two orbs that will target enemies. Her alternate fire allows her orbs to move freely, homing on one enemy to attack. Both are fun to play, but The Girl’s orbs and alternate fire makes the game a bit easier.
The influences Shikhondo takes from Japanese culture and mythology for its characters and enemies are also a nice touch. Each character has an influence in some way, like how the Grim Reaper fires black butterflies, a symbol of the soul in Japanese myth, or how some enemies resemble an Oni mask, which represents an Ogre-like creature. The influence of the culture adds to the interest factor of the game, and anyone with an interest for Japanese culture will love it.
Another thing I felt was quite good was the difficulty options that the game offered. I feel this was a good addition as it lets new players to the bullet-hell genre “dip their toes in the water.” The only problem I have with this function is the fact that there is a difficulty spike between Easy and Normal, which can throw new players in a bad position if they try making the jump.
One thing that was a bit off-putting for me, were the bosses throughout the game. While the attack patterns were fine and felt like actual boss fights, the design of some battles was very sketchy. What I mean by this is that they were not very family-friendly. There’s nothing extremely graphic, but the point stands. The designs of the bosses are well done though (even if all of them are girls), as they each follow a specific Yokai. Their bullets also get a sense of uniqueness, as the patterns they create work off of their appearance, like how the spider Yokai has web-like patterns or how the tiger boss tries that make fangs.
Furthermore, on the subject of bosses, while I said the attack patterns for bosses were fine, the way they use them are just evil. Imagine being stuck in a room filled with a deadly laser. Now imagine that room shooting more lasers for you to dodge. That’s what one of the bosses feels like. Most of the time you can avoid the incoming fire, but there are times when a boss may attack you with something that requires time stopping abilities (which you don’t have) or the skills of an ultimate being. Luckily, you do get a special attack that destroys bullets, so the inescapable fire becomes tolerable.
Shikhondo stands out of the gaming scene with its beautiful art style, Culture influenced characters, and fun gameplay, with the occasional annoying attacks. If you’re looking for a bullet-hell game, check this one out. It’s worth it.
Reviewed by Chuckles on PS4, provided by Digerati Digital