Tenchu: Shadow Assassins

The days of letting another Tenchu instalment willingly fall under the radar are over. Shadow Assassins is just the shot in the arm that the series needed: a refreshing revival to a happier time in Tenchu history.

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Ubisoft Tenchu: Shadow Assassins
  • Ubisoft Tenchu: Shadow Assassins
  • Ubisoft Tenchu: Shadow Assassins
  • Ubisoft Tenchu: Shadow Assassins

Pros

  • Enjoyable assassination cinematics, large variety of ways to dispose of enemies

Cons

  • Music is annoying, finicky AI

Bottom Line

A die-hard Tenchu fan, Heather was more than happy to see the series return to form in its latest portable iteration. It may even move a hardened assassin to poetry...

Would you buy this?

The days of letting another Tenchu instalment willingly fall under the radar are over. Shadow Assassins is just the shot in the arm that the series needed: a refreshing revival to a happier time in Tenchu history.

Hide, Stab, Repeat

All of the extra nonsense that has accumulated as the Tenchu series progresses has been cut down to the bare minimums in Shadow Assassins. The Ki Meter, previously used to determine whether or not you can stealthily kill an opponent, has thankfully met its demise and is now replaced with an on screen prompt letting you know if the time is right to waste your enemy. The arsenal of items for hoarding in your inventory has been slimmed down to only include the essentials: shuriken, expendable swords, and a bamboo tube to hold water are all primary staples. These items actually serve a purpose and aren't just there to waste precious space (poisonous rice, anyone?) The bamboo tube is an especially useful item as it puts out torches so you can play a better game of hide-and-go stab with enemies. The handy tube also doubles as a means to breathe underwater, allowing you to disappear into the nearest river or pond if need be.

Shadow Assassins mirrors the original Tenchu with its modest cast of characters and simplistic, straightforward gameplay. The Story mode is short and sweet although it feels long due to the stealth aspect of the game. You play 6 missions as the scarred Rikimaru and 4 as the now ponytail free Ayame on a quest to save Lord Gohda's kidnapped daughter, Kiku. Assignment Mode has 50 side missions to take part in if you feel the need to spend countless hours in frustration trying to achieve an S grade in every mission as I did. S grade is easiest to achieve if you know a level like the back of your hand so you can practically run through it unnoticed, which I assure you is no easy task.

STALKER!

Thanks to faulty cameras in previous Tenchu titles, it was purely second nature to fall to your death or walk straight into enemies. That just isn't so in Shadow Assassins. Armed with an over-the-shoulder camera you are now likely to have fun and not cuss the screen out in a fit of rage per usual Tenchu protocol. If you thought a nifty new camera was the extent of the welcome additions to be found in Shadow Assassins, prepare to be pleasantly surprised. Enter Mind's Eye view, the way of the future! This new POV grants you the power to see where guards are looking, objects that you can interact with, and shadowed areas where you can hide your ninja, furthering my belief that Assassins could be considered a puzzle game in its own right. Each mission is a puzzle within itself, and using your Mind's Eye is invaluable when plotting out the best course of action to sneak past or dispose of pesky guards standing in your way.

The clunky battle system that activates upon being caught in plain sight is incentive enough to stay hidden in the shadows. Although the system is compromised of mimicking command prompts with your analog nub, it's easy to slip up and find yourself starting the mission all over again. For example, when you're caught for the first time your protagonist slyly utilises their ninja skills to teleport to the beginning of the level unscathed with the exception of artfully torn clothes. Shadow Assassins is a stealth simulator to the core, and patience is key when stalking about Feudal Japan.

How do I kill thee? Let me count the ways.

The sheer volume of different ways you can kill an enemy in Shadow Assassins really keeps things fresh. You have 4 choices, dependent upon which way you push the analog nub after hitting square after sneaking up behind an enemy. Taking out a guard from the rafters above is one of the more enjoyable ways to assassinate an adversary. It is as simple as slinking down and snapping their neck, yet never seems to get old, as do most of the assassinations. All in all, Tenchu: Shadow Assassins holds true to it's early predecessors. To sum up it up, a poem:

How do I kill thee? Let me count the ways.
I kill thee to all depths, breadths and heights
My Mind's Eye can reach, wherever the camera might
I kill thee every level and altitude, never leaving my gaze
A most quiet deed, done by torches and moon light.
I kill thee quietly, with your back facing me
I kill thee quickly, breaking your neck silently

I kill thee with the passion of the Azuma clan
I kill thee with a sharped tipped Shuri-CAN
In my old griefs, with a series headed to suck town
Shadow Assassin's restores the series luster and renown

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