Way of the Samurai 4

$107.63

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Description

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Complete Review & Description

Let’s say someone played Saint’s Row and wanted to make a game like that. But set in Japan around the time westerners were being allowed in. A time of restlessness and warfare that was a true turning point for the nation. Imagine that this game designer wanted to capture the anger of the times but also create a fun, at times, silly game where events were a bit “over the top”. Now also imagine that this person has no idea how to make a game but does it anyway.

Welcome to Way of the Samurai 4.

To start, I need to mention that the version I received to review crashed and froze on me constantly. The graphics were very “glitchy” when the character was running, with large chunks of pixels freezing on the screen and there were often moments when the game would pause mid-action, and sometimes simply freeze and need a system restart. This made the game infuriating to play at times.

Editor’s note: we checked with the publisher and they assured us that this was the final version of the game, so be aware that the copy you buy from your favorite retailer may well have similar issues.

I haven’t played Way of the Samurai 1 through 3, but the internet tells me they weren’t readily available the English speaking market. I can understand why. WotS is one of those Japanese games that tries to be serious and wacky all at the same time. You can be in the middle of an emotional scene, with a main character dying, standing in your underpants with a weird mask on. Or, as I was, being awarded an honourable title after having beaten your enemies with a large frozen tuna for a sword.

In this way WotS has its charms. There aren’t that many customisation options (though there are dozens more to unlock as you play through and gain achievements) but each “accessory” is able to be modified for extra craziness. Items can be shrunk or enlarged, rotated around any axis, and attached to any body part. Wanna wear a hat on your leg? You can. I had a character with an oversized wicker hat and a demon mask embedded in his chest. The game does allow for female samurai, although you need to unlock them through achievements.

For a game set in such a rich period, the story is fairly thin. There are three factions: The Shogunate, represented by a sadistic lord and a policeman blinded by honour; the Prajnas, a group devoted to ridding Japan of foreign influence (which means random raids to slaughter the British); and the British, the oddest group with a golden female knight, a slimy Count with a mechanical arm and, an ambassador who seems to be a ten year old girl.

All of the recorded dialogue is in Japanese but the subtitles offer humour in the odd translations. And it is funny hearing the English characters talking in very strange accents thanks to the Japanese voice actors.

As you progress through the game you make choices based on which of these three groups you wish to follow. This unlocks extra events in a tree format and blocks others. You can keep your options open too, by cherry picking missions from all three.

I was shocked at how short the game was, until I realised that when completed you start again with all your money and items from the previous game. In this way you can start afresh with a highly leveled character armed to the teeth. Also some of the long winded missions are already completed. This is a bonus as they are also a pain in the butt.

One in particular, where you have to look after a new English teacher for the city, was especially infuriating as the teacher would follow you extremely slowly and should anyone, friend or foe, bump into him, he would immediately run back to where he started. (You also need to complete this mission in order to understand the English people in the village; until the teacher arrives they all speak gibberish.)

Playing the same game over and over does get a little boring, even with the large number of different choices you can make. Moreover the game doesn’t seem to be interested in letting you know where or when the next big event will take place or where you need to go to start it. As such you may find yourself simply wandering around the towns various districts looking for people to pick fights with or women to go “night crawling” with.

Even fighting becomes tedious after a while as you execute the same moves (although there are dozens of fighting styles) to dispatch opponents and the camera loves to swing around to face you so you can’t see your enemy.

For all of its goofy charm, I found Way of the Samurai to be an infuriating mess. The missions were all over the place and, while I don’t like being spoon fed instructions, I do like to have a vague idea of what I’m supposed to do. Moreover the tendency for the game to call one thing by many different names means you can be scratching your head for ages on a mission before realising there was a simple solution.

The Way of the Samurai could have been cool, could have been over the top crazy or an excellent historical game, it’s neither, nor is it a good mix of the two. Frankly it’s a game I would avoid buying unless you see it dirt cheap as a download.

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