Back when Acquire developed the original Tenchu games on the PlayStation console, they were stealth action games that I had fun playing due to the perfect gameplay execution and stylish kills. Following the release of the two Tenchu games, Acquire eventually sold the license to another developer and the series went downhill from then on. With the departure from the Tenchu games, a new series was born known as Shinobido, a stealth action game similar to the previous Tenchu games.
Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen is the sequel of the first game that was never released in North America. With the release of Shinobido 2 on the PlayStation Vita, players who are thinking of jumping into the series will not be lost in the game’s story despite not playing the first game. Does Shinobido 2 have the elements of the Tenchu series, which made it popular? Let’s take a look in the HOTs and NOTs in our review.
Even though the first Shinobido game never released in America, don’t worry about understanding the story of Shinobido 2 as you will not be missing much. The story in Revenge of Zen is pretty straight forward – Zen’s companion got killed over the mysterious artifact that she’s searching for and Zen sets out on a journey to find those who are responsible. In addition to Zen’s journey to seek out revenge, he’ll also have to deal with the three daimyos (house factions) of the Utakata region, in which has a part to play in the overall plot of Shinobido 2.
With the on-going civil war in the Utakata region, the three daimyos will use your Shinobi skills to do missions for them. Depending on which daimyos you want to side with, you’ll weaken the forces of the other daimyos. It is recommended to stick with one daimyo if you wish to benefit from the rewards they’ll give you. Additionally, going down a linear path will give the story a better flow. However, you have the option to play with the other sides and see how the story will turn out for you. Based on which daimyo you choose to help, you’ll unlock different scenarios that will lead to the true story of the game.
Variety of Missions
Asuka Village will be your base of operations where you can pick missions, buy items to aid you and much more. By doing missions you will progress through the story. As a Shinobi in Utakata region, the three daimyos will give you missions that will vary from time to time. These missions can be assassinations, rescue missions, kidnapping someone, robberies, thieveries and many more. Out of the mission types that are available, the easiest ones are assassinations and rescues. Remember that more mission types gets unlocked as progress through the story.
Great Stealth Gameplay
One of the things I love in Shinobido 2 is the stealth gameplay. In every mission that requires stealth, you will be ranked based on how sneaky you are, how you kill enemies and how fast you do the mission. For those who love stealth gameplay, you will find Shinobido 2 a great game. With Zen’s stylish kills and tools to help you achieve your goals, you will most likely have to rely on your stealth skills and keeping out of enemies’ sights in order to be successful. For those who feel that the stealth gameplay of the Metal Gear games are lacking, Shinobido 2 will show you how it’s done. If at some point you wish to not use stealth, you can simply go all out on the enemies, but don’t expect a high rank at the end of each mission.
Build the Stats of Zen
Upon completion of a mission, you will be rewarded with items and experience points. Based on the rank you receive, you will get a multiplier of the base experience points you earned. With these points, you can level up and give Skill Points to raise the attributes of Zen. You can increase Zen’s stamina, offense, defense, or your grapples length. Creating the build you want will help you reach your goals in the various missions.
Repetition Makes the Game Dull
With the missions you do in Shinobido 2, one of the things that you’ll notice is that each missions takes place in the same area, regardless of which you select. The repetitiveness also comes from the mission objective whereas for an assassination mission, you’ll always hunt for the same person and sometimes the target is residing on the same spot from the previous assassination mission. Due to the repetitive nature of the game, expect to get tired of it after a couple missions, but what will most likely keep you playing is the satisfaction of playing stealthy.
So Many Tools that Are Useless
Aside from your trusty sword, there are a lot of things that you can use in a mission. There are items that you can use to distract enemies, create traps and with alchemy you can create new items. Despite the large selection of items, only a small fraction are useful. In my playthrough on hard, the only items that I used were Elixirs that restores my life and increase my strength. The bombs and other items like Kunai were just there in my inventory waiting to be used.
Presentation Aren’t that Impressive
Shinobido 2‘s presentation in quite average. For the most part, you’ll be seeing the same environments being recycled over time. The designs of the characters looks good for the Vita, but clearly doesn’t show what the handheld can do in terms of visuals. Comparing it to Shinobido on the PSP, Shinobido 2 shows some improvements when it comes to textures, but in the end, the graphics won’t impress you. Additionally, the sound is hit and miss.
Camera Needs Some Work
It’s hard to successfully perform a stealth kill when a camera gets in your way. Despite having a second analog stick to adjust the camera, there are times when adjusting it will not work due to bad views or it will simply lock the camera in a bad position.
When it comes to the execution of the stealth gameplay, Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen succeeds in every way and gives you the nostalgic feeling of the original Tenchu games. However, what will most likely disappoint you is the repetitive nature of the game when it comes to missions and areas that you have to go through. If you can get past these flaws, you will find Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen to be a fine game.
[Editor’s Note: Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita hardware. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen Review,