Overall - 60%
Castle of Shikigami is shoot-em-up comfort food. Though it does not reinvent the wheel, it provides enough unique setpieces and mechanics to warrant at least one playthough. It might not reach the heights of Cave's offerings, but diehard fans of the genre may enjoy their time with this game.
Shmups may be a dying breed, but Degica Games is keeping them alive with the localized Steam port of Castle of Shikigami. Does the game still hold up, or is this one throwback not worth experiencing?
Castle of Shikigami Review
Those weaned on the shmups of the 90s will know what to expect here. Players take control of one of six supernatural heroes and fly through the streets of Tokyo, destroying everything in their wake. Attacks include a standard firing mode, an alternate attack by holding the firing button down, and a screen-clearing bomb. It’s basic stuff, but it gets the job done. Each character has a different firing style and assist, and are different enough to some variety between each playthrough.
The game also rewards players for taking risks with its Tension Bonus System. Navigate close to enemy fire without touching it to dish out even greater firepower and deal more damage. It is not as revolutionary as something like Ikaruga’s swapping mechanic, but it still adds some depth.
Each of the five stages is broken up into different acts full of enemies and bosses. There’s a light story where the hero exchanges and banter with each enemy, but its tale of demons, magic, and murderers is full of anime cliches and tropes. Enemy design is off the wall quirkiness, with monster tanks, demon lords, and butterflies with babies faces on it. Clocking in at a little more than an hour, it’s not the longest game around, but those looking to clear it without continues will no doubt get some more mileage out of it. A ranking system and leaderboards also gives incentive to get better.
The thing is, enemy fire does not really have a clear pattern to it. Taking a page from more challenging danmakus, Castle of Shikigami throws a bunch of crap at you and expects you to navigate with ease. It feels at times like the bullets were thrown in to spite the player, rather than carefully crafted to create a tactful strategy. Credit feeding is always an option, but those flying solo or co-op may get frustrated at its design. There are multiple difficulty settings, but anything higher than normal is an exercise in patience.
Castle of Shikigami is shoot-em-up comfort food. Though it does not reinvent the wheel, it provides enough unique setpieces and mechanics to warrant at least one playthough. It might not reach the heights of Cave’s offerings, but diehard fans of the genre may enjoy their time with this game.