Demon heads in wheels, giant ladies with spider legs and cute anime girls – all are the order of the day when it comes to Shikhondo, a bullet hell shooter from Korean developer DeerFarm.
Based in Asian mythology, Shikhondo is as frantic as it is pretty. Characters are drawn in excellent detail, menus are nice to look at and the whole presentation is of a high quality. There’s also a decent amount of content here, which is much appreciated considering with only five stages it’s quite short even for bullet hell shooting standards.
There are a number of modes from single player to co-op. With single player, you can play in standard Arcade mode, Hardcore and Novice. And within each one, you get to choose the difficulty as well. Bit odd when you can choose Hardcore mode only to change it to Easy, but the difficulty with that simply comes from only giving you one life. So there is a method to the madness.
One of the neatest bits of single player content is the ability to craft the game to how you want to play in Custom mode. From how you regain health to charging your soul gauge, many things can all be altered to how you want to play. The soul gauge is how you perform a super attack – the standard way to recharge is to just pass within close proximity to an enemy bullet. Once full, you can unleash a flurry of bullets, able to destroy enemies much quicker. But it also highlights the main issue in that the hitbox of your character is a little difficult to judge.
You can choose one of two anime ladies, each with a different type of bullet attack, and once the action starts it’s difficult to understand what part of your character is the hitbox. Do the trailing legs count? Or is it just the body? Due to the frantic nature of the game, even after a couple of hours of play I still wasn’t able to figure it out.
It becomes a real problem during the boss fights. They’re long, challenging and fill up the screen with a million bullets. So much so there are times when you think there is literally no empty space left on the screen that you can reach. Unless of course, you have one of the limited power ups that clear the screen.
Where the game really thrives though is in high score chasing. Scores reset with every game over, and although you could continue from the same spot, sometimes it’s best to start from the beginning and mop up the easier enemies to raise your score again. Sadly though at the time of writing the online rankings don’t appear to be listing anyone (at least on Switch), even my own scores aren’t showing, so hopefully that will get fixed in the near future.
Despite the slight criticisms there’s a definite style and appeal to something like Shikhondo. If you already own Ikaruga (the best bullet hell shooter you can buy on Switch) and are craving something in a similar vein then you could do a lot worse.
Shikhondo: Soul Eater is available now for PS4, Switch, Xbox One and PC. We played on Switch. Follow @TeamDeerFarm for more information.