Shikhondo: Soul Eater Reviews

AuthorReview
MotivationalOrb
323,821 (210,415)
MotivationalOrb
TA Score for this game: 519
Posted on 18 September 19 at 02:44
This review has 4 positive votes and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Shikhondo - Soul Eater developed by DeerFarm, a small team based in South Korea, is a bullet hell with a stunning, classical Asain art style. That being said, as with most games in the bullet hell/shoot-em-up genre, there will be an incalculable amount of bullets on the screen and you will die. Quite a lot. Also in line with many titles of the genre, Shikhondo skips out on any sort of narrative or story and let’s the old-school arcade action do the talking. Each of the five stages in the game will have you shooting hundreds of enemies, dodging who knows how many bullets and facing off against nightmarish bosses. This all seems par for the course when it comes to a shmup, so what does Shikhondo do differently? Not much to be honest and that’s okay.

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Upon launching the game, you will be greeted a vibrant menu screen reminiscent of a lotus flower spinning gently in a pond. From here, you will be given many options for how you would like your beautifully brutal arcade experience to be. Naturally, you get classic Arcade mode for those of you who are inclined to topple the online leaderboards or simply experience the game in its purest form. There is a Novice mode that allows players to get a feel for the game without all the stress of millions of bullets coming directly for your face. This comes in favor of only having thousands of bullets coming directly for your face. If Novice mode is a bit too easy for you, why not try Hardcore mode? In this mode, you are given one life and receive no continues, meaning if you get hit by even a single, tiny bullet it’s game over. Alternatively, you may want to mix up your game a bit. You can head on over to the Customize mode to change how the core mechanics of the game work. Do you want your special attack to charge by coming dangerously close to enemy bullets or do you want it to charge by shooting enemies yourself? Would you like an HP system where getting hit doesn’t stop the action until you die or would you like the typical Lives system where each hit kills you, briefly pausing the torrent of hellfire while your next life kicks in? Customize mode can really add a lot of variety to the game by just tweaking a couple of simple settings. Players can dive right into the hell with Boss Rush mode. This shmup staple sees you battling each of Shikhondo’s five bosses in quick succession. Players will want to use this mode to study each boss’s tricky bullet pattern to avoid dying in when it comes time to fight them in other modes. And finally, something you don’t see in many bullet hells, Shikhondo offers a Local Co-op mode. So rarely are we allowed to grab the nearest soon-to-be ex-friend and have them suffer through the barrage of colorful and mesmerizing bullets alongside us!

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In terms of actual gameplay, Shikhondo doesn’t really rock the boat. There’s no crazy gimmick, no outlandish game mechanic that sets it apart from other games in its class. You get your standard fly around, shoot and slam the screen-clearing bomb button in a panic gameplay that you receive with every game in the genre. Each mode offers a difficulty select making this title accessible to everyone from elite and hardened shmup veterans to the most casual of gamers just looking for a fun arcade style game. Players can choose between one of two protagonists to play as. There is the Grim Reaper who has a wide firing spread that covers much of the screen and deals out slightly more damage than her counterpart, The Girl. The Girl has a very narrow firing spread but her bullets seek out nearby enemies. The enemies are your typical, little minions resembling possessed dolls and various demons. During each stage, these minions are more of an annoyance than anything else. Your bullets typically dispatch them quite quickly and they don’t offer much of a challenge at lower difficulties. This can make them game seem a tad sluggish and grindy as if you are commuting through traffic to each boss, especially when playing the game through a few times back to back. What the basic enemies lack in flare, the bosses make up for with their fantastic bullet patterns and horrifying design. These bosses seriously look like something out of a horror film’s nightmares. Just look at this creepy spider-lady with human legs.

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Each of the five bosses offer a unique and thematic bullet pattern which really gives each boss a sense of character. These bosses are the real stars of the show, presenting a fun and challenging experience while never feeling insurmountable or overbearing. This makes the game’s Boss Rush mode shine even brighter by being an expressway straight into the heart of the savage gameplay shmup players love.

Shikhondo absolutely blows me away with its art style both in game and out. During gameplay, the bullets are very clear and crisp making it easier to spot incoming danger. The background of each level isn’t too busy as to not distract the player from the constant onslaught of death while still maintaining the game’s signature art style. The character assets all have an incredible amount of detail, even more so for the bosses. Each boss gives you an impressive close-up before each fight, making sure the player really takes in every gruesome feature from a heart beating out of a woman’s chest to blood dripping off the tongue of a demon tiger. Sadly, the music and sound in the game did not get the same amount of love. Most of the soundtracks backing the bosses and their stages sound very similar, none of which are memorable. The sound effects aren’t doing anything special either, only offering a few shrill screams here and there when a boss dies. It would have been really nice to hear music and sounds that match the demonic forces that we face in Shikhondo but, unfortunately, we got generic electronic music instead. At least the game is impressive to look at though.

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All-in-all, Shikhondo - Soul Eater delivers a classic bullet hell experience with beautiful art and solid gameplay. Allowing players of all skill levels to enjoy this game really helps it get welcomed to any gamer’s collection. The multitude of game modes offers plenty of replay value alongside the game’s online leaderboard. While it does suffer from some mediocre level design and lackluster music, I believe it is a must play for any fan of the shmup genre.
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