The puzzle: a young woman has been accused of killing her parents and framing another woman for the crime. The law enforcement uncovers evidence that she was framed, but to prove it they need more information. To get this information, however, would require breaking in to Aiko’s apartment—but with security cameras everywhere and…

Shadow Tactics 2 is a tactical stealth game that has been developed by Flying Wild Hog. The game was released on October 10, 2018 and will be available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It’s release date is October 10th, 2018.

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When I used my tanuki decoy for the tenth time, I actually got small, elderly Takuma past the guards to mark one of the mission’s goal objects. It was a fleeting success. While discussing with a colleague, I underestimated how preoccupied one of the straw-hat guards would be. It didn’t take long for them both to kill Takuma, who was helpless and defenseless, and it was time to try again.

Shadow Tactics: Aiko’s Choice flips everything you know about Shadow Tactics on its head, yet some of the same elements remain. On the surface, these missions may appear familiar, but Aiko’s Choice is a unique take on Shadow Tactics’ strategy, for better or worse.

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Aiko’s Choice takes place in the midst of the Shadow Tactics campaign and delves further into some of the characters than the original plot did. It centres on Aiko’s former sensei’s unexplained return. However, the preview build I played dumped me in the second chapter, so I didn’t get a good sense of the expansion’s plot.

What I did gain was a new style of playing. Takuma, a skilled sharpshooter, was stripped of everything save his tanuki and imprisoned on a crowded ship. This first job required me to mark five boxes containing lethal weapons so Takuma’s allies could locate and deal with the threat after he was rescued. The problem was getting to the containers in the first place. 

The objective should take around a minute to accomplish, according to the preview’s description, but that doesn’t include the time it takes to figure out how everything works. It took me a lot longer than that to get past the guards and locate the appropriate way.

When Mimimi stated Aiko’s Choice upped the difficulty compared to the main campaign, they weren’t joking. Granted, the preview bypassed the tutorial and first mission, pushing me right into the second task, but this is clearly aimed at individuals who are experienced with strategy, particularly Shadow Tactics’ version of it.

Fortunately, save-scumming (reloading if your plan fails) is simple, and Aiko’s Choice even promotes it. It’s a little detail, but one that helps to keep annoyance at away.

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I like the approach, even if it does make me a little worried about the ultimate product. On one hand, this is Shadow Tactics at its most free and inventive. The ship level may have made me question my strategic abilities, but it’s still a superbly crafted level, not least because it forces you to employ a familiar character in a whole different manner.

The second level is much better, requiring you to split your strategy across two islands and trade tight places for flexibility of movement.

Aiko’s Choice, on the other hand, has a touch of Valkyria Chronicles about it, at least in the first half of the preview build I played. Although there is some strategy involved, it begins to seem more like you are experimenting until you discover the one method that works. Takuma’s first task, for example, requires precise timing and positioning. There’s some leeway in how you approach it, but not as much as I thought in terms of free-thinking and preparation.

However, because this is just two of Aiko’s Choice’s six overall missions — three principal tasks and three interlude stages — it’s difficult to predict if the others will follow suit. While I had hoped for a more strategic choice thus far, I still had a great time with the expansion and can’t wait to play it in its entirety when it comes out in December on PC. Keep an eye out for more.

In “Shadow Tactics — Aiko’s Choice Preview: A Puzzle Within a Puzzle,” there are three different endings. This is a puzzle within a puzzle. Reference: shadow tactics how many missions.

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