Five Awesome Games from PAX Prime 2011

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Skulls of the Shogun

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Think of Haunted Temple Studios’ first game as high-speed chess. With undead samurai, of course. The game’s main character is a deceased general named Akamoto. Just as he’s on the verge of winning a major victory that would make him shogun in feudal Japan, he gets stabbed in the back and dies. Akamoto goes to the afterlife and meets a giant queue of dead soldiers waiting to get into their promised paradise. The dead general decides that waiting’s not for him and recruits other samurai to cut the line, too. SotS updates the real-time strategy genre from the model seen in games like Final Fantasy Tactics or Advance Wars. The ubiquitous grid seen in older, tactics-style games is gone and you can steer your units freely to engage with the enemy as you see fit. The chess analogy comes in because each unit—cavalry, archers or infantry—all have special abilities and moves that control how they traverse the battlefield. Archers obviously have long-range attacks and cavalry can cross the terrain faster. The whole thing unfolds like a gorgeous bit of puppetry with a ton of humorous charm and a soundtrack that could’ve been lifted from a classic Wu-Tang album. The buzz on Skulls has been high and looks justified based on what I saw at PAX 2011. Expect to play it in the first few months of 2012.

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