Since the genesis of video gaming, developers have aimed for the most realistic experience possible through graphics and controls given the technology. Only since recent years has technology permitted us to reach such potential. Among such technology are software such as shaders which are effects we implement in our graphics to make our environments look lively and less flat. But shaders can benefit games in more ways than for an aesthetic choice.
Tenchu: Shadow Assassins is a 2008 stealth game released for the Playstation Portable and the Nintendo Wii. The game is centered on two ninjas, Rikimaru and Ayame carrying out missions such as retrievals or assassinations. Anyone familiar with ninja lore knows that they are well versed in the art of using their surroundings to their advantage, particularly the darkness of the shadows. This game manages to translate that well into gaming through the use of lighting and shading.
The version I have is the PSP version so that’s the version I am going to talk about. I’ve described earlier that this is a stealth game about ninjas whom are notorious for lurking in the shadows. In the game your character must sneak about undetected, this also involves sneaking behind enemies and taking them out before they know you’re there.
This is where the shading aspect comes in; in order for your character to sneak around, he/she needs to hide from enemy sight, among the best hiding places are shadows which are noticeably darker and to let players know they are hidden, your character becomes a silhouette to drive the point home, not to mention make it believable that enemies can’t see you. Though players still need to maneuver cautiously even in the shadows in the vicinity of an enemy, as they can still hear you if you make noise.
So far we talked about shading, but lighting also comes into effect. The game contains many light sources, there are a few that you can extinguish, either by blowing them out, using water, or throwing kunai or shuriken stars at them.
This will create even more shadows for your character to hide in. The catch is that a lot of these light sources are close to enemies that can directly see them.
But it doesn’t end there; lighting continues to play a pivotal role in the gameplay when you turn on stealth mode using the triangle button. In that mode, you can see what looks like lasers to pin point the exact direction the enemies are looking at, this is implemented for the players’ convenience in order to study their enemies’ patterns, it’s not as tedious as you may think.
So that’s Tenchu: Shadow Assassins a game that uses shading not just for its graphics, but for gameplay as well, proving that shaders are massively useful to game developers.
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