Monsters have taken over Ancient Korea. These monstrosities terrorize and plague the land with their horrendous abominations. When armies cannot fight them, who are you going to call? Two witches that are skilled with witchcraft and wizardry. From Digerati game publishing and Developer DeerFarm comes Shikhondo: Soul Eater, an arcade shoot-’em-up game set within an ancient Korean world.
Asian mythology is rich in lore and history, from the various tales of Gods and Goddesses to the accounts of humans battling against overwhelming odds. Among this history are the hundreds of tales of evil demons and spirits that corrupted and plagued the land, sapping it dry of goodness. In Shikondo: Soul Eater, ancient Korea is plagued by demons who have broken through the dimensional planes of the afterlife and into the real world. As they spread, innocent humans are taken over and corrupted into horrible monstrosities. To rid the land of evil, two witches, “The Grim Reaper” and the “Other Girl” are approached to deal with the threat. Using their own magic to counteract evil, the two set off to purge the land of horrible monstrosities.
Shikhondo: Soul Eater is an arcade shoot-em-up, or shmup, that has you, and another player, slaying hundreds of monstrosities across five stages. Hundreds of enemies will fill the screen, constantly sending volleys of enemy fire toward the player. As with all shmups, the objective is to survive and get the highest score. Unlike other shmups, Shikondo is what’s referred to as a bullet-hell shmup, meaning that the game screen will literally fill with endless enemy bullets. These types of shmups are known for being notoriously difficult, but there is a mechanics that players can master that will mean the difference between life and death: bullet grazing.
Shikhondo: Soul Eater has an extremely polished and refined hitbox so that players can get painfully close to the flying bullets. As they do so, they build their soul eating meter. When that meter is maxed out, players can unleash a devastating stream of soul-eating lasers to wipe out waves upon waves of enemies. The speed and unpredictability of the enemies make the gameplay aggressively fast and constantly fluid, putting players on their toes. It’s a great experience, met with the exciting combat and setting.
Shikhondo: Soul Eater almost plays like a horror movie as well, with terrible monstrous deformities acting as final bosses. These dark spirits, appearing as young women, will twist and deform right in front of players, posing as a ferociously aggressive challenge for players. Bullets and bullet patterns will fill the screen and become absolutely relentless. Perfecting these boss battle will take repeat gameplay to master, but having a second player to play alongside you will ease the difficulty. The imagery is certainly not for the faint of heart, but is nonetheless exciting and fresh, considering most games in this genre deal with a futuristic war or a far-off battlefield. Across five stages, players will see this fine balance of sheer action and frightening horror.
Playing Shikondo: Soul Eater is immensely fun, albeit for a short time. The biggest setback the game has is its length, with only five stages to play through. While there is a boss rush mode, and repeat gameplay to master the game’s achievements, the game could’ve have been longer by several stages. I would have loved to see more South Korean myth and lore on-screen, complete with more monsters and evil spirits. However, that doesn’t take away from the game’s blistering action and exciting setting, which is perfect for those that need instant, quick action in their gaming lineups.
Shikhondo: Soul Eater is a brief, but sharp action experience. Its bullet-hell shooting is challenging but sensational, and its visual presentation is distinct and refreshing. Shikhondo: Soul Eater may not be the longest or deepest game you play, but it’s a game that is a tremendous amount of fun, and in today’s gaming world, that is more than enough.