A Hellish Flatline.

Shikhondo: Soul Eater is a vertically scrolling, bullet-hell-shoot’em up that pits women warriors against hordes of demons as they invade the land. According to the game makers, DeerFarm, the source material is inspired by Korean Mythology.

Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, Switch
Price: $13.99
Price I’d pay: I’d skip it

The basics of the genre are there – shoot towards the top of the screen and dodge the enemies’ incoming projectiles. The major gameplay mechanic is the soul meter, which fills as the player remains close to enemy projectiles, without hitting them. The meter only fills while holding a certain button and it also reduces strafing speed – which is helpful – because there can be a lot of projectiles on screen with not that much space between them. When the meter is filled and activated, the player deals extra damage for several seconds. There are also a set number of panic button “bombs” for each level, that destroy all enemy bullets on screen.

There isn’t much of a story in Shikhondo. There are no cut scenes to establish things. It just starts with a woman under player control that can shoot projectiles out of her torso. The enemies, I correctly guessed, are demons, but more resemble a hodgepodge of weird looking creatures of Korean origin. The bosses, which are human-animal hybrids are well-drawn and sufficiently creepy.

The levels are mundane with a repetitive but busy background which, at least on my TV, noticeably lacked a fine resolution. The whole experience and presentation is about as bland as you can get, even with its exotic and colorful art. The only time things get interesting is when the boss music kicks in. It’s the same for each boss, but it is a cool industrial hip-hop beat.

Players can go through the 5 relatively short stages at their desired difficulty, but all difficulties allow for unlimited retries, which makes seeing the end unfulfilling. There’s a mode called ‘Hardcore’ that advertises no continues, but you can definitely continue, so I’m not sure what the point of that mode is. The two playable characters are barely different, with their only difference being the pattern of their bullets, which doesn’t affect the gameplay that much. The game has a few different modes that change up the soul meter and how points are accrued; there’s a boss-rush mode; and it allows two-player co-op, but all in all, it’s an underwhelming package with only serviceable gameplay.

In spite of the wacky and colorful art design, Shikhondo: Soul Eater is a bland and unfulfilling experience. The gameplay is just okay, and there are no hooks that give this Flatline a heartbeat.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Boss Music
  • Presentation
  • Infinite Retries
  • Broken game mode?
Written by
Wyatt is a recent college graduate of Ohio University’s Journalism program. He’s an Xbox guy, but loves playing great PlayStation exclusives. Also, he has far too much nostalgia for the old Nintendo.