Ever since we first heard about it, we’ve always loved the concept behind Way of the Samurai – a free roaming adventure where your actions in the game world have a significant impact on how the story pans out. We’ve always loved the setting too, where you play a wandering samurai in rural Japan. And we’ve always wanted to love the Way of the Samurai series itself – but unfortunately, the series doesn’t make itself easy to love.
The first problem is that it all starts off very vague. You’re never really 100% sure what, exactly, you’re supposed to be doing, and when you do, you’re not always certain how you should go about it. Often you’ll fail a mission because the game doesn’t signpost your objective well enough, or imperfect controls mean you accidentally kill someone you weren’t supposed to. Its intentions are honourable, though. This isn’t a game that you work through from start to finish and then put back on the shelf. Instead, it invites you to complete the game over and over again, trying different things every time.
Died in battle? Don’t worry about it, just start over and play in a different way! Bored of a cut scene? Just whip out your sword and kill the person you’re talking to! Don’t like the clan you’re working for? Simply wipe them out and switch sides!
Each time, the story bits that you witness change, and you earn points to kit yourself out in different ways. And then, if you have the patience, you’ll play again and see what happens next time. If you have the patience. That’s the key – and in the face of some tedious errand boy missions and an emphasis on being in the right place at the right time, or collecting the correct items, patience is something most players will run out of.
Feb 19, 2010