Shikhondo: Soul Eater Review

Shikhondo: Soul Eater Review

Developed by Deer Farm, Nephilim Game Studios
Published by Digerati Distribution
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (also available on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Steam)

Shikhondo: Soul Eater provides a dynamic take on the well-trodden shoot-’em-up genre. While its vertical bullet-hell action closely follows contemporary games, its hyper-stylized presentation and assets feel unique. With a slew of mythology-inspired enemies, dazzling bullet patterns, and painterly backgrounds, the game’s visuals are certainly enthralling. However, it rarely provides new takes on standard modes and mechanics, which hampers its enduring impact. Shikhondo’s combination of shoot-’em’-up conventions and exciting visuals is entertaining if a bit basic.

Shikhondo’s mechanics follow a familiar shoot-and-dodge flow. Incoming enemies fire a variety of bullet patterns, and the player’s character must dodge incoming attacks while returning fire. The player’s character fires primary shots and launches screen-clearing bomb attacks while dodging incoming sprays of enemy fire. While The Grim Reaper fires with a wide spread, the Girl has linear fire with limited homing capabilities. Holding R2 slows down the character’s movement and activates a secondary attack mode. The ultimate goal is to play through all five stages that each contain waves of enemies and threatening boss encounters.

While these elements are fairly standard, the game’s take on power-up systems is a bit more interesting. Some shoot-’em-ups feature a “grazing” mechanic in which players receive buffs by flying close to enemy fire. In Shikhondo, doing so fills a circular gauge that surrounds the player character. Once this gauge is full, pressing L2 activates a powered up Soul Collect state that bolsters firepower and bolsters score-boosting items for a limited amount of time. Pressing the button yet again will empower the Soul Collect state by boosting firepower even further. The game therefore provides escape mechanisms that are slightly different from traditional bomb mechanics. One interesting twist is that players can pick whether to have an extra bomb or an extra life at the end of each stage, which does grant a bit of freedom. Given that enemy bullets sometimes travel a bit haphazardly, having ample recourse for survival is certainly welcome.

Many elements of the game’s stylized visuals are visually striking. Players traverse locales that frequently juxtapose natural and fantastical elements. These backgrounds are much darker compared to the bullets, which generally helps players read what is going on. The one catch is that enemy attacks sometimes consist of too many colors, which can be slightly distracting. The user interface consists of striking text and stark representations of clouds and flowers. Furthermore, the playable characters and bosses have plenty of animated elements, and they often feel lively if a bit rigid. Many of the enemies consist of ghosts and other strange demons that are rather different from traditional shooter fare. The most notable element is the strange otherworldly boss design. Each boss encounter actually consists of two phases, and the second phase is usually against a horrific transformation that can really catch players off guard.

Shikhondo also includes plenty of appropriately experimental tunes. The tunes span a wide range of instruments, but generally they encompass electronic beats that suit the flow of the game. As the game progresses, some of the instrument choices become a bit bizarre. One end-game stage encompasses all sorts of rock riffs that can seem a little different from the rest of the tracks. The second phase of each boss fight plays a chaotic song full of distorted beats and poignant percussion, and the experience can be as unsettling as the bosses themselves. For the most part, these tunes are respectable if a bit bizarre at times. On the other hand, the sound effects that play after attacking enemies and using bombs are fairly standard. While prior character-focused shoot-’em-ups incorporate voices, this game lacks any voiceover whatsoever, which is a bit of a letdown.

In general, the game’s functionality is limited, and a few more elements might have created a more well-rounded experience. While the game provides a number of modes, many are a bit familiar. The Arcade mode provides a traditional experience with default parameters and four selectable difficulty levels. Other modes include Local Co-op, Hardcore mode, Novice mode, Customize, and Boss rush. Hardcore mode is a one-life experience and Customize allows players to pick from a few different rulesets to tweak the experience to their liking. One of the most jarring aspects is a sheer lack of options. In the main menu, players can simply disable music, sounds, and pick the subtitle language. The in-game pause menu simply allows players to resume, restart, or exit the game. A few more aspects like controller mapping and galleries would have been beneficial. It would have been great checking out the game’s visual designs in concept art form or listening to the tunes outside of the game.

Shikhondo: Soul Eater’s striking designs and standard shoot-’em-up mechanics create an entertaining experience that feels a bit disjointed. While its user interface and characters are fantastically crafted, the features and modes are a bit basic. Presenting some sort of lore or galleries might have helped contextualize the game’s designs. As it stands, however, Shikhondo is a respectable take on the shoot-’em-up genre that sticks to the genre’s conventions.

 

Vincent Lai

Vincent Lai

I'm a gaming enthusiast who enjoys a variety of platforms! I also love wisps, rainbows, and gardens!

Graphics
16out of 5
Sound
14out of 5
Gameplay
12out of 5

Overview

Shikhondo: Soul Eater is full of stylish visual assets, and it sticks closely to established conventions of the shoot-'em-up genre. However, the experience can sometimes feel a bit basic.

3.38

3.38 out of 5
Average

Tags assigned to this article:
reviewsShikhondo: Soul Eatershmupvideo games

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