Shikhondo – Soul Eater is a bullet hell game with an Asian theme. You play as one of two girls which shoot down ‘Yokai’ which have escaped from Limbo and along the way, they must collect souls in order to return them to the Underworld.
Being a bullet hell game, each stage is filled with enemies firing all forms of projectiles at you, which you must weave and dodge in order to avoid contact with. There are a few modes, including arcade, local co-op, boss rush, hardcore, and customise. They all have their own difficulty settings and span over all 5 stages. Customise mode allows you to tweak and alter what happens when you inevitably die.
Each stage has great music and a beautiful Asian background which scrolls under you as you progress. I found myself loving the soundtrack more and more with each additional play and more so, the boss theme that plays during the boss fight, surprisingly. It’s a mellow soundtrack that I thought was very fitting to the style of the game as I don’t want too much noise playing while trying to dodge over a hundred bullets flying towards me.
Within each stage, the enemies types carry over from previous levels and it introduces new ones, letting you adapt, rather than throwing you off completely. At the end of each stage, you encounter a boss which is based on folklore which has been split up into two stages in order to create a much more exciting fight. The first form is a good challenge but once the second form appears you best be on your toes as the bullet hell comes at you fast and furious! Their second forms are where Shikhondo – Soul Eater shines the most as the music grows more intense and the forms the bosses take are both very interesting and grotesque.
There’s a dilemma of wanting to see these forms and admire the mutation they become, yet you also need to dodge the neverending spirals of bullets!
Your arsenal, which helps you get through all of these horrific enemies, is a simple stream of bullets. Other attacks include a bomb to destroy all projectiles on screen, which gets you out of a pickle, and an amped-up barrage of bullets which requires charging. Mastering the charge shot takes a bit of time and practice but works really well once you know how to pull it off.
What bothered me about Shikhondo – Soul Eater was after I completed the fifth boss, I realised I had completed the game! The reason it bothered me was that it had only been around 20 minutes since I initially started playing the game. Granted, these games are not meant to be long, but I was really enjoying it and didn’t want it to end so soon. I ended up replaying through a few times and with each time, learning more about the mechanics and how to play through almost flawlessly. At this point, I can get through the game and use only 1 continue. With more practice, I know I can get through without dying and earn the platinum (maybe).
Overall, Shikhondo – Soul Eater is great fun for bullet hell fans, more so those with an interest in Asian folklore. Those out there who love games which offer a challenge and strive to achieve platinums rather than have them handed to them on a plate, this one is for you! The music is awesome, the visuals are stunning, the gameplay is fast and action-packed, seriously, what more could you ask for in this amazing title?! Also, although short, there is a lot of replayability as you try and get through the insane levels without using any continues, which there are trophies for.