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Indie pick: 'Skulls of the Shogun'

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Each week Digital Spy unearths the hidden gems of the independent gaming scene, from new releases through to faraway prospects that should be on your radar.

This week we look at at upcoming strategy title Skulls of the Shogun, best described by developer 17-Bit as a console approach to the strategy genre.

Skulls of the Shogun

© Microsoft Games



It certainly shows; the lack of a grid provides free roaming of the battlefield with a drag of the finger or nudge of a stick, it's incredibly menu light, and the limited amount of moves per turn keeps matches quick and snappy.

Despite this fast and streamlined approach, there still remains a dedication to strategy and tactics from this three-man studio, relying on a number of small systems that all play off one another instead of a more convoluted few.

One such idea is that units can be lined up shoulder-to-shoulder form a protective wall to stop the progression of enemy units. This is perfect for protecting your leader, who must stay alive at all costs. The free-roaming movement means that walls and general positioning prove surprisingly agile and flexible.

Skulls of the Shogun

© Microsoft Games



Meanwhile, when approaching a unit, rings will display the chances of your attacks missing - the closer you are, the higher the chances of success - and there's also the ability to consume dropped skulls to power up your units, but this comes at the risk of using up precious troop movement and being left open to attack.

Another highlight is Skulls of the Shogun's strong story approach. The opening tutorial is broken up with humorous slices of dialogue, as our deceased warlord recruits followers and literally cuts the queue into the higher echelons of the afterlife to meet his betrayers. Also delightful is the game's visual approach, with bright, crisp-looking units splashed around cartoon-styled but detailed battlefields.

Skulls of the Shogun

© Microsoft Games



As well as a lengthy campaign, perhaps the most interesting feature is cross-platform play. Touted as a first for Microsoft platforms, Skulls of the Shogun's multiplayer matches will be playable across Windows Phone, Xbox Live and Windows 8. Not only does it work for asynchronous turn-taking whenever and wherever you're ready, but campaign progress syncs between devices, too.

It's also impressive that the developer has ensured that all versions of this more action-orientated strategy title are equally suitable for each platform. Controller and touch controls are pitched as equally viable input options and interfaces that make good use of their respective devices, without compromising any features between them.


There's a lot to look forward to in Skulls of the Shogun, from its approachable and light controls that are riddled with depth to impressive cross-platform interconnectivity that should help foster a dedicated community of players on release.

Skulls of the Shogun will be available on Xbox Live, Windows Phone and Windows 8 when Microsoft's new operating system launches by the end of the year.

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