Shikhondo: Soul Eater is a “shooter” in which your goal is to free souls that have been captured by the Yokai. There are two main character options to pick from, Grim Reaper or The Girl. Every element is inspired by beautiful Asian culture, and it shows on every screen. The main menu screen shows options with pinwheels of flower petals behind them that look fantastic. There is a great mixture of colour and depth from the title screen, to the enemies, and the background of each level. If you can find a moment in-game when there are no bullets or soul-devouring covering the screen, take a good look at the background. A lot of time and detail went into that and it deserves some recognition. Big ups to the design team. I really liked all aspects of the art style of this game.
At first, I thought it would be a quick-moving left to right control pattern, but it was not. I found moments when my person would steer to the right side of the screen, only to be incapable of moving left (and vice versa). The Grim Reaper character does not shoot bullets, you read that correctly. The main weapon appears to be shadows. The normal attack can collect souls in a meter, once filled you can use a bigger “soul eater” collect. Attack can be used in a spread shot, or if you hold ZR it makes the attack a concentrated beam.
Some enemies you will spot along the way include little girls in red dresses, mage farmers, apparitions and a special shoutout to the Oni demon enemies which were my favourite. Bosses are large and very eccentric looking. After you defeat the health meter shown and consume all of their soul, a more demonic version of that boss appears and the meter refills. Rewards after beating a boss are either a soul attack or life (in the form of a butterfly).
The music is great for arcade style game and fits very well. It’s enough for you to not care about it, but keep the flow of the game going. What really bothers me, is the game’s lack of sound effects when you or enemies get hit. If you’re playing with the Grim Reaper, you don’t even shoot bullets. Save your time and be The Girl, at least her shot resembles a bullet from any shmup you’ve played. Nonetheless, there is absolutely NO satisfaction given from shooting enemies. Your characters hitbox is small and difficult to keep track of among your characters figure and weapon glow. Not much else to be said about that.
Available modes include: Arcade, Local Coop (that’s how it is shown, don’t correct me), Hardcore, Novice, Customize, and Boss Rush. There are five levels, I beat normal mode in 45 minutes or less. It should be noted there are infinite lives. I found no replayability in this game, I switched characters and started an Easy run to gather enemy descriptions and found The Girl is a much-preferred player.
At a glance, this game looks very difficult but I took it on because I was really in the mood for a shmup to play. There are times you don’t have to move at all and your hit-box feels invisible. The Grim Reaper makes this game not feel like a shooter at all, with the whole “shadow shooting” and all. Collecting souls isn’t fun and I would not recommend this game. The graphics and art style are the only positive thing I can take away from this game. I had higher hopes and most of the points given to the score will go to that.
Beard Score: 3/10
Title: Shikhondo – Soul Eater
Players: 1-2 local co-op
Format: PlayStation 4, XBox One, Nintendo Switch