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Review: Shikhondo - Soul Eater

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Bullet limbo

A lot of shoot 'em ups (shmups) come across my desk: like a lot. And I could be happier.

There are a lot of genres out there that have been "dead" or "dying" for years, even decades. Folks don't see shmups in arcades anymore (hell they don't even go to arcades) and assume they're erased from our collective memory. In reality there's new projects, or ports, popping up every month.

Shikhondo - Soul Eater, a PC shmup that's just making its way to consoles this year, is one of those projects.

Shikhondo - Soul Eater (PC, PS4, Switch [reviewed], Xbox One)
Developer: DeerFarm
Publisher: DeerFarm, Digerati Distribution
Released: October 10, 2017 (PC) September 6, 2018 (Switch)
MSRP: $9.99 (PC), $13.99 (Switch)

Shikhondo - Soul Eater doesn't go through any lengths to provide pageantry of any kind. It merely...is.

After boot-up you'll choose between two characters (ships): a Grim Reaper and a school girl with collective and lock-on alt fires respectively. If you're expecting some sort of backstory on the cast, bosses, or even what's happening in any way shape or form...don't. Many shmups even present a facade of some sort like a wanderlust poem at the start or an instruction manual explanation outside of the game, but nope -- "you pick the Grim Reaper or the girl and take souls from yokai." I know a lot of you don't care to get invested in what is ostensibly a score-attack genre, and it's far from a deal breaker, but it helps if there's a little bit of a spark there for me.

Even right from the get-go I was torn on the art. I'll start with the good: the backgrounds are gorgeous. There's sections where you're flying across a scene, it'll transition, and look like a legitimate painting. The enemy models though? Not so much. Not only do the blend together but the whole yokai motif isn't very menacing for roughly 90% of the adventure: only the bosses and their multiple forms spice things up.

Don't get me wrong though, Shikhondo - Soul Eater is a functional shooter. Spread shot fire patterns by default help you reach wide swaths of the screen and the vertical shmup industry standard "alternate fire that also slows down your character for finer movement" mechanic works in spades. The same goes for the risk-reward tinted super mechanic, which boosts your meter for getting closer to shots and absorbing souls.

This might seem elementary to some but this is actually one of the things about Shikhondo that I dig the most. A lot of games just build in danger elements solely tied to score attack concessions to the point where everything feels homogenized. While Shikhondo isn't completely original here I do like the added simplicity of working your way up to a super the more you chance it. It's even easier to acclimate without giant medals (points, in other genre games) filling up the limited screen real estate. Less can be more, and when coupled with the unique backdrops there are some significant highs throughout the fleeting arcade mode.

Five stages doesn't sound like a whole lot but it's par for the course, and local co-op for two is a nice pack-in, especially for the Switch where you can share a screen in portable mode or pop that bad boy into a custom arcade rig. A boss rush is nice, as are several difficulty settings. As far as the big guns go, that's it. You either like it or you don't: there isn't much to customize or alter here.

Shikhondo - Soul Eater is a dessert shmup. Newcomers won't want to skip ahead to the last course of a meal because there are already so many other dishes to choose from, even at the same restaurant (eShop).

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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Shikhondo - Soul Eater reviewed by Chris Carter

6.5

ALL RIGHT

Slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy it a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.
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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! ------------------- T... more + disclosures


 




 


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