Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun - Aiko’s Choice PC Review

Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun - Aiko’s Choice includes all the best and worst parts of Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun.

By Fragnarok, Posted 14 Dec 2021

Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun - Aiko’s Choice is a tactical espionage game by Mimimi Games and published by Daedalic Entertainment. It serves as a standalone expansion to the original 2016 Shadow Tactics, but the plot of Aiko’s Choice chronologically takes place mid-way through. However, it still expects players to have knowledge of the base games.

Just like Shadow Tactics, Aiko’s Choice has five controllable party members. The titular Aiko specializes in disguises to blend in as a normal civilian. If discovered, she still deals a good amount of swift damage, though it may be more strategic to retreat. For a more deadly approach, Hayato can distract enemies, or instantly kill foes with his shuriken (though if it misses players will need to pick it back up).

Shadow Tactics|Blades of the Shogun|Aiko’s Choice|Mimimi Games

If one doesn’t want to stealth at all, Mugen the samurai has incredible defenses and can easily kill enemy samurai warriors. But if he is caught, Mugen is just too slow to run away; he also can’t climb or swim. In later missions, players will also unlock Yuki who can easily confuse and trap enemies, but attacks slowly. Last is Takuma, who can snipe from afar with his rifle but must conserve the limited ammo, and is almost immobile.

Aiko's Choice is controlled by selecting characters and actions with the keyboard, and then clicking on a target via the mouse. This often means quickly switching between the five heroes with the 1-5 keys and then proccing specific attacks or moves with letter keys. While players can also drag boxes to select multiple characters, this typically only allows them to run to specific locations and not interact with objects or combat enemies.

Aiko’s Choice includes three big stealth missions that will likely each take one to two hours to clear. The maps include a huge amount of enemies and obstacles, divided into goals for each specific character. For example, one may need to send Aiko out to jump around roofs or hide in plain sight, all in an effort to open up routes for Mugen to traverse. But before the samurai engages, the stealthier Hayato may first want to eliminate a few stronger foes.

Shadow Tactics|Blades of the Shogun|Aiko’s Choice|Mimimi Games

Some missions might also include the five members being in completely separate locations. For example, Takuma may be perched up high and able to kill a handful of enemies, but still too far to help out the stranded Mugen. The warrior will be fine, as all of the enemies around him are directly matched for an upfront brawl. For the remainder of the mission, however, Aiko, Hayato, and Yuki will be dealing with the bulk of the enemy force and will need lots of sneaking and silent kills in order to survive.

There are also a handful of shorter missions sandwiched between the more epic ones. These tend to have more story focus and are overall easier, mostly designed to be completed in 45 minutes or less. These parts also do not allow a full party, with the first giving only control of Takuma and the next a team-up of Mugen and Aiko.

The expansion however lacks any sort of onboarding at all. Within minutes of starting the game, Aiko will be in immediate danger, and the first instinct might be to either run away or use her to confront the enemy. Instead, one will want to quickly switch to Mugen and use his deadly spin attack to deal with the foes. This would come naturally for people that just completed Shadow Tactics, but for those that haven’t played since 2016 - or worse didn’t play the original at all - the nearly abrupt game over may be off-putting.

Shadow Tactics|Blades of the Shogun|Aiko’s Choice|Mimimi Games

Aiko’s Choice is a difficult game and very unforgiving, even on the default settings. One mistake can lead either to an instant failure or slowly cascade into a whole mess of problems. It is best to take things slowly and be very methodical, waiting for enemies to turn away or move into just the right position. The game also includes a reminder to save often and a timer from when the last manual save was.

Despite the standalone nature, Aiko’s Choice should not be a player’s first foray into the world of Shadow Tactics, nor does it actually fit in as a solid conclusion to the original. Instead, the most concise way of experiencing the game would be to play three-fourths of the way through Shadow Tactics - around mission 8 at Kanazawa City - followed by all of Aiko’s Choice, and then the final parts of the base game. Either way, switching between two different applications can be awkward especially as some of the user interface, graphics, and quality of life features are different.

Shadow Tactics|Blades of the Shogun|Aiko’s Choice|Mimimi Games

Overall, Aiko’s Choice is a great follow-up for one that already loved every aspect of Shadow Tactics. Those that never played the original should definitely play that first before considering the expansion. And of course, players who disliked any aspect of Shadow Tactics will find all of the same flaws or misgivings within Aiko’s Choice.

Kurtis Seid, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Daedalic Entertainment GmbH
Developer(s): Mimimi Games GmbH
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Tactical, Stealth, Ninja, Samurai, Real Time
Release Date: 2021-12-03

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