As promised, we’re back for round 2 of the Shiren the Wanderer
blog series. I’m Scott Strichart, project lead, and today I’ll be providing you with some valuable tactical advice on how to approach this game. I also promised not to be boring, so I figured a good way to spice things up would be to introduce you to one of the game’s early adversaries. So here he is! He’s the first of the Four Guardians of Hourai Mountain, the six-katana wielding Centipede!
He thinks he’s so scary.
But if you think you’re going to go toe-to-toe with this guy without a little strategy under your belt, you’re going to get one of those swords stuck somewhere uncomfortable. So first things first: Basics!
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve watched play games like Shiren and attempt to just maraud through dungeons like they own the place, wasting turns, and letting enemies get away with drawing first blood. And with up to two more allies to cover your back in Shiren, that temptation will be even greater. All I can say is: Don’t. Or I will come to your house and be that backseat gamer nobody likes.
You have to approach the dungeons here with a little finesse. Leading enemies into corridors, paying close attention to the distance between you and your allies, and even swinging your sword at empty space so the foe steps right where you want them are tricks of the trade that veterans of this genre live (and sometimes still) die by. Yes, we talked about how Shiren has opened the door for newcomers, but guys like Centipede aren’t going to go down without a fight. So why don’t we take a closer look?
He takes up 9 squares!
Here we are at the beginning of the epic battle. I can toggle the grid on and off with the single press of a button, an absolutely key tool to my survival here. You’ll also note that I’ve turned on “Full Control Mode”, by that little “FC” indicator in the upper right. This allows me to take the turns of both Shiren and his companion, Sensei. The game’s AI can be fine-tuned to make Shiren’s allies more than competent without my input, but on a boss, I’m going to require absolute precision.
So it’s Shiren’s turn. What’s your first move? If you answered “move up a square,” you’re absolutely right! Centipede is two squares away, which means if Shiren moves up one, and then Centipede moves down, then on Shiren’s second turn, he gets the first attack. But we aren’t accounting for just Shiren here, are we?
Sensei , being a square behind, is obviously going to be bringing up the rear. And if you’ve checked out our website, you know that Sensei is an offensive powerhouse, able to dual-wield blades and attack twice per turn. He’s a champ.
So I’ve got my strategy. I’m going to attempt to put Centipede in a pincer attack with Shiren taking the brunt of the damage (since he’s wearing a shield) and Sensei bringing the pain. Let’s see what Centipede has to say about that.
Where’d he go?
Like the jerkball Centipede that he is, he burrowed underground and all we’ve got left is a seemingly innocuous shadow revealing his position. That’s convenient, yes? One turn later, we quickly realize that this shadow is not so harmless. Moving Shiren down a square reveals that the shadow is actually stalking you, undoubtedly in an effort to cause some ridiculous damage by popping up right underneath your character. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about getting a sword stuck in uncomfortable places.
This is a perfect example of how you have to consider your moves. You want the character being stalked to avoid getting hit, and the other character to be in striking distance when he finally pops back up. If your usual approach to RPGs is to grind until you can win the game with your eyes closed, heedless of situations like this, Shiren is going to ask you to reconsider your tactics. This game rewards planners and strategists.
But back to our battle!
Right where I want him: Shiren on one side, Sensei on the other, delivering damage and wasting no turns getting into position. I’ve got Healing Herbs in my inventory should either character need them, and all we have to do now is seal the deal.
Quick! Squish him before he can finish his death monologue!
There you have it. One Guardian down, three to go. Because we paid attention to our positions, went in with a proper inventory, and thought about each move, we emerged victorious. But I must remind you, each dungeon’s boss is a like a candle on a 10-20 layer cake that you have to eat from the bottom up. Uh... In other words, getting to the boss can often be just as challenging (if not more so) than defeating the boss itself.
So I’ll close this entry in our blog with a little secret: I didn’t tell you how to deal with Centipede’s entire playbook.
More Shiren blog goodness soon… stay tuned!
—by Scott Strichart, project lead