The Essential Guide to Shadow Tactics: Aiko’s Choice 2021 – Review
December 6th, 2021
Return to the beautiful world of Shadow Tactics set in Japan, early Edo period.
Rejoin your favorite characters for another adventure set within the story of the main game Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun.
Experience a previously untold tale centered around the kunoichi adept Aiko, who must face a vicious enemy connected to her past.
Explore three fully-fledged main missions, set in brand-new environments, and three shorter interlude missions.
Play a team of five different characters with their unique skill sets.
Synchronize your team's actions to strike down your enemies at once with the "Shadow Mode" feature.
Choose between non-lethal or deadly stealth attacks.
Find dozens of ways to take out or sneak past your opponents the way you want.
Choose from three difficulty levels to match your skill.
Aiko’s Choice is a snappy, short standalone addition for Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, which is all we really needed it to be. This side tale transports us to Japan’s Edo era, where we sneak, slash, and stalk our way through brilliantly designed outposts and fortifications across three hefty, spectacular new levels and three smaller interludes. And new missions pick up where the already challenging original game left off in terms of increasing the difficulty, so brace yourself for a battle.
Aiko’s Choice is a stealth strategy game set in Japan during the early Edo era that takes place within the Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun tale. The expansion centers on Aiko, a kunoichi expert who is one of the original game’s protagonists. She is a master of disguise and can fool adversaries into thinking she is a Geisha. Aiko’s former sensei, the crafty spymaster Lady Chiyo, comes from the shadows to confront her, despite her belief that she had left her old life behind her. She sets out to track out the ghosts of her past with the help of her lethal allies. You take control of five skilled assassins, including Aiko, to sneak through dozens of foes in the style of the main game. Hayato, an agile ninja who clears the path discreetly with his sword and shuriken, is one of Aiko’s comrades. Mugen, the great samurai, adopts a more powerful approach and is capable of defeating numerous enemies at the same time. Yuki is a youthful burglar who uses traps and decoys to lure enemies to their deaths. Takuma, on the other hand, relies on his sniper rifle and uses his faithful canine friend Kuma to distract foes.
Those expecting Aiko’s Choice to be a prequel or sequel would be disappointed, as it occurs during the main game’s story. Our five heroes gathered in their camp after the eighth mission (Kanazwa) and before the attack on the principal villain Kage-sama in the original, toasting with a few glasses of sake before setting out for the final encounter. However, in Aiko’s Choice, something gets in the way of her small army, especially Lady Chiyo, Aiko’s former boss (albeit the employment relationship was definitely not amicable).
She unexpectedly shows up at our house, kidnaps Yuki and Takuma, and orders her soldiers to murder our remaining three heroes on the spot before fleeing. Of course, we don’t let her kill us that simply, and instead take a secret exit to the top of the home. The game really starts on the roof. We must flee the village, release our two friends, and, of course, assassinate Lady Chiyo, who is in the service of Kage-sama’s. This will keep us occupied for a few hours. In comparison to the main game, not much has changed. We still play Mugen, Yuki, Hayato, Takuma, and the titular Aiko, a motley band of five characters with entirely distinct powers. Mugen is the troop’s leader and a samurai, while Hayato is a ninja, Yuki is a thief, Takuma is a sniper with a charming pet, and Aiko is a spy who can pass for a geisha (and is also Mugen’s lover). The addition focuses primarily on Aiko’s past, although there is also a lot of information about the other heroes.
That makes little sense, even though it is a stand-alone expansion that can be played without having played Blades of the Shogun. You’re not just plunged right into the center of the story (after a little introduction), but the difficulty level is also not for the faint of heart. You’re on the run in a Japanese village full of enemy soldiers seeking you in the first mission. There are some fully armored samurai that you can’t easily knock out, in addition to simple infantry. As a result, even if short explanations of key game elements are presented, it starts extremely challenging and is not suitable for beginners. However, because you have immediate access to three heroes and their five special skills, the help messages will only be of limited use. To succeed, special powers must be deployed strategically – at the right moment and in the right place.
Because our armor makes us too ungainly to leap, we hop from rooftop to rooftop, throw ourselves off the roof upon adversaries, or crawl down a ladder. If we don’t take care not to make a scene and remain undiscovered, we’ll shortly find ourselves surrounded by dozens of enemies who will be difficult to defeat. It’s best to take out enemies one by one. The game is ended as soon as one of our heroes dies (and hopefully we can load the save game we saved just before). Our enemies are formidable foes. Aside from patrolling along the same paths every time, they fight skillfully and can kill us with a single shot.
You’ll have a plethora of possibilities for action at any given time, and you’ll be able to handle a variety of problems in a variety of ways, depending on how you use your heroes’ special skills and the environment. LShift allows us to stop time and create command sequences for all of our characters, which are then all performed at the same moment. Many hotspots in the game world can be altered or used to conduct an action. Furthermore, several of the enemies are constantly moving (albeit along the same patrol paths). As a result, a lot is going on, which might easily overwhelm a novice. However, it’s like paradise for experienced players – how do We effectively eliminate this guard? Shuriken, sword, sniper rifle… or is it possible for us to arrange a “work accident” here? What is the most convenient mode of transportation? There are (usually) a plethora of tempting remedies for any problem.
It should come as no surprise to fans of real-time tactics games (or the main game), but we’d like to point out that Aiko’s Choice is not an action game. It’s about navigating enormous regions full of enemies with a tiny crew. These can be eliminated one at a time, preferably in an unobtrusive manner and without notifying their coworkers. It’s a puzzle game in which you monitor your enemies, spy out their (always the same) paths, and examine their fields of view before deciding whether to just bypass them or to remove them in what way (and when). Of course, when you put your plan into action, things might become a little frenetic, and every mouse click must be precise, or your heroes will be kicked in the shins.