Being a samurai back in the 1800′s is not a very simple task. There’s always someone trying to kill you, people always nagging you to break other people’s vases, and choices you have to make that will make another group of people want to kill you. Also, finding the right thing to wear is always a challenge, moreso when courting a young woman by sneaking into her home and wrestling with her, at least, that’s how Way of the Samurai 4 makes life seem for a samurai.
As you can tell, Way of the Samurai 4 is one unique game. It is an open world game that has you take control of a nameless samurai that has just arrived to a new town in late 1800′s Japan. The British have begun settling in the town, and some of the townspeople are not too happy about it. Of course, there are some that love the foreigners and hope to establish trade with them. This is where your choices come in.
The game is heavily driven on choices you make and the effects it has on the story. If you side with one or the other, some story bits may be missed due to how you play. You are constantly doing missions for people around town both for factions or regular townsfolk. You can even acquire something at a store, choose to not pay for it, and have the store owner chase you around town. There’s a lot to it when it comes to choice.
Of course, because you’re a samurai, you will be doing a good amount of sword fighting, and by a good amount, I mean a ton of it. Here is where the problems come into play. The controls are stiff and learning to know when to attack and when to block is sometimes difficult to master. You can always break an opponent’s guard with forward thrusts, and then begin hacking away. Even if you’re completely surrounded, you still only fight one on one with enemies so you’re never overwhelmed. One thing that is really nice is the special attack that you can perform once a meter fills up. You can activate a special mode where you combo all your attacks and can hit multiple enemies. Then by deactivating the mode, you sheath your weapon and all the enemies fall to the ground simultaneously just like in an old samurai flick.
You have to keep track of not only your health, but also stamina and sword durability. If your sword breaks during a big fight, you’re in trouble. You will have to repair or purchase a new sword pretty frequently. You learn new moves by fighting. Simply fighting and doing different things in combat can reward you with new abilities.
The game has both an RPG feel to it as well as a simulation feel. You can start your own dojo, take on apprentices, and have them help you out. You can use items to improve your weapons, and take on jobs in town for extra money. You can go fishing, gamble at the casino, and even take on other player’s characters and possibly take their equipment for winning. There are a lot of things to do in this game. Of course, there is the whole “dating” simulation that requires you to butter up a prospective person, sneak into their home at night, avoiding family members (or cutting them down samurai style) and then throwing your love onto a bed and successfully pinning them down. It must have been really difficult to find a wife back in the day.
Things like that, along with the insane number of things you can dress your character up with are the small strange things that really make the game stand out in both good ways and bad. Of course, this is all optional, but you never really know what to expect when going to a mission with a gigantic hat and a demon mask on.
The story itself is decently told. It has a very old samurai movie feel to it while still keeping a little goofiness mixed in. The voice acting is all in Japanese, and the music, while fitting, will get old fast when it loops for the 20th time.
The game has multiple endings that you will have to play through numerous times to see. In fact, the game has a large emphasis on playing it multiple times. Your entire inventory carries over to the next play through. The problem I had was that going back through the game again was just a task I didn’t feel like doing. There is some overlap in the missions even if you chose a different path. Even then, you can change the faction you wish to help at any time.
The visuals are not bad, just not very good. Sometimes the areas just look bland, and the characters’ animations are off. I do want to mention, the game has some every bad screen tearing. It usually doesn’t bother me, but I really noticed it while playing the game.
All in all, Way of the Samurai 4 is a decent game that some players will enjoy. There’s tons of options in the game and it has this unique, goofy feel to it that you can’t help but want to see. The combat may be the weakest and possibly the most boring part of the game, but you will find what works and keep doing it just to see what you’ll be doing next. For $39.99, if you don’t mind some wonky combat and enjoy a simulation RPG with with some goofy parts, you can have a decent time with Way of the Samurai 4.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.