Skulls of the Shogun (SotS) on the PC has previously been released exclusively on Windows 8 (also out on Xbox 360) - until now! It is now available on Steam.
SotS is a turn-based strategy game where you play as General Akomoto, a shogun warrior who was stabbed in the back and wakes up as skeleton shogun in the afterlife. The story takes you through the land of the dead to get vengeance on the man (or skeleton) who betrayed you, and killing anyone who stands in your way to take your rightful place in the afterlife. The Bone-a-fide edition on Steam contains extra levels, extra multiplayer maps and a new monk unit and developer commentary.
You control Akomoto and a handful of undead samurai that throw their lot in with you and join your quest for revenge. Initially this involves infantry, archers and cavalry. Infantry are great for knocking enemies off of cliffs or into water, archers of course are long range attackers and cavalry have a wider circle to move in, which is good for securing resources before the enemy can. Once you kill an enemy unit their skull is left behind and another element of strategy is added in, any of your units can eat the skull and gain some HP. If you can have the same unit eat three of them it will turn into a demon version of the unit. But you have to work out if you want the immediate benefit of healing, or hoping your unit stays alive long enough to eat three skulls and become the most powerful unit on the field next to the General. Later on the skulls can be denied from the other team when your monks get involved. When shrines are introduced you need to use soldiers to haunt/capture rice fields to harvest the rice to use the shrine. Using these shrines can help buy new samurai. Although you can't rely on swarming the enemy with more units as there is only five turns each round, it takes lots of rice gathering to get too many units. There are also shrines where you can summon spirit monks to assist your side. You'll start with a fox monk that is focussed on healing units. The game starts off gently while you learn the basics, make sure you pay attention though as the difficulty ramps up quickly and everything the game teaches you remains important throughout the entire game. The single player story has plenty of witty and 4th wall-breaking humour as it teaches you how to play while incorporating it into General Akomoto's tale. This game also has real style and the cartoony world of the afterlife is filled with Japanese imagery. The music suits the game well. Overall the game looks and sounds good for what it is.
The single player campaign is only part of the Shogun experience. Multiplayer is where the action's at after the story is over. You can sit down and play against other players on the same screen, online and there is also a mode where you send turns back and forth whenever you can. Even better you can play this mode using any platform that has a copy of the game on it called Skulls Anywhere mode. I never had an issue finding a game to play on Skulls Anywhere and players seem to make moves in a reasonable time. If you can't find an online game then this mode is just as good, especially if you don't have time for a full game in one sitting. I foolishly started a match while I was still playing through the tutorial levels and had no idea about some of the mechanics introduced throughout the game, so I recommend playing through at least the first chapter of the single player before going online.
Skulls of the Shogun is a fun strategy game that should be a good entry level game for those looking to dip their toes into turn-based strategy games. Both single and multiplayer modes have plenty of content, and especially with modes like Skulls Anywhere it isn't hard to find a game against a real person. If you didn't pick this up when it was Windows 8 exclusive now is the time to give SotS a go.