App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Nishan Shaman is not the kind of game you’d expect to come from Tencent Games. This title—a tiny little rhythm game about Northern Chinese mythology—has somehow been put out by the massive company that owns huge titles like League of Legends, Clash of Clans, and PUBG Mobile. It’s definitely nice to see such a small scale, personal feeling game get support from such a big company, but it stinks that Nishan Shaman—though 100% free—isn’t as fun (or long) as it should be.
In Nishan Shaman, you play as a female shaman as she quests to save a young boy who’s spirit was taken away. To complete this journey, the shaman must use a magical drum to protect herself from all sorts of demons and creatures that stand in her way.
This setup gives way to a game where you’re responsible for tapping on the screen to beat a drum as enemies bear down on your character. Enemies can come from the left or right sides of the screen and you can tap on those sides of the screen to defeat them. There are also times when long enemies appear which require you to tap and hold to defeat them.
The most striking thing about Nishan Shaman is its visual style. Inspired by a traditional, paper cut-out art style, the game has a sort of flowy nature. The whole thing looks and moves unlike anything else on the App Store.
It’s only too bad then to note that the game’s visuals are its only strong suit. Good looks aside, Nishan Shaman presents some paper-thin gameplay, forgettable music, and a complete lack of replayability. To be fair, the game is totally free, meaning there's no in-app purchases, ads, or gating mechanics of any kind, but despite all of that, Nishan Shaman still leaves things to be desired.
The main culprit of Nishan Shaman’s problems is the game’s length. With just five levels, the game ends before it has the chance to really develop ideas into anything more meaningful.
This length might be acceptable if each of Nishan Shaman’s levels were sweeping musical suites that took quite a bit of time investment to complete, but all told the game can easily be finished in a single sitting. Also, none of Nishan Shaman’s levels are particularly difficult, which makes it incredibly easy to breeze through the game in the blink of an eye.
The bottom line
I appreciate that Tencent put out a game that isn’t trying to be the next huge multiplayer sensation, but Nishan Shaman is a little too small in its scope to feel particularly meaningful. There are solid ideas here, but they ultimately don’t get enough room to breathe, resulting in a rhythm game that is both disappointing and forgettable.