Way of the Samurai 4 Review
Way of the Samurai 4 compensates for clunky mechanics with an enjoyable blend of soapy melodrama and irreverent humor.
- Abundant silliness, both scripted and player-generated
- Multiple storylines reward replay.
- Klutzy combat
- Lots of menu navigation and loading screens
- Some things are never explained properly.
The arrival of European sailors on Japanese shores ushered in a strange and turbulent period in Japanese history. The clash of cultures gave rise to radical xenophobes, scheming magistrates, and unscrupulous traders, all of whom you have the chance to ally yourself with in Way of the Samurai 4. You can also wear a tuxedo jacket and no pants, brandish a giant fish in combat, and be pursued through the forest by a dozen angry sumo wrestlers. Way of the Samurai 4 isn't so much a wacky adventure through these tumultuous times as it is a wacky sandbox that encourages you to live the same few days over and over again, taking different paths, forging different alliances, and experiencing different kinds of sex torture. Though the combat is clunky, the mechanics are dull, and the visuals are dated, there is plenty of goofy fun to be had in Way of the Samurai 4.
The key lies in the structure. The game spans just over four days, each divided into day, evening, and night. Each time period contains a few different events that allow you to further different story paths, like allying yourself with the shogunate to restore order, becoming an advocate for the foreigners, or joining a band of rebels. These events are mapped out in the menus, making it easy to follow the main storylines but also clueing you in to other significant events waiting to be discovered. Each story has enough goofy characters, overwrought dramatics, and strange occurrences to be entertaining most of the way through, and if you start to get bored, well, there are plenty of other things to do.
Talk to the folks in town and take random missions for cash. Dress outlandishly and make every cutscene a ridiculous farce. Beat up thugs and make them join your dojo. Eat some sushi, refuse to pay, and flee from the cops. Flirt with women, infiltrate their bedrooms, knock out all the competing suitors, and then whack your date until her clothes come off. Go fishing. Forge a new weapon at the smithy. Chat with Melinda Megamelons or the King of the Homeless. Jump-kick random passersby in the head. Play a card game. Try to reunite a craftsman with his estranged apprentice. Or just hang out by the horse-drawn-wagon tracks and watch people get run over.
There's a lot of silliness and drama to discover in Way of the Samurai 4, and this helps stave off the dullness of sitting through frequent loading screens and running doggedly around the map. Much of your interaction with this irreverent world is through sparse dialogue trees and other menus. Perusing item descriptions and visiting different shops are the only ways to learn about all Way of the Samurai 4 has to offer, and even then, some elements are likely to elude you until repeated playthroughs.
When you're not scurrying all over town or navigating options, you're in combat. There are multiple fighting styles for the few different weapon types, but combat only makes use of light and heavy attacks, blocks, dodges, and a few combo maneuvers. Hit detection is irregular, so slashing and kicking your way through enemies feels haphazard. This makes combat less like a thrilling contest and more like a chore, though there is still some satisfaction in pummeling your foes silly.
Your first playthrough of Way of the Samurai 4 is disorienting, because the game doesn't do a great job of explaining all the systems at work. On subsequent adventures, however, you have a better idea of what you can do and can better focus on what you want to do. And even a few playthroughs in, there are still strange delights and new events to discover. Way of the Samurai 4 isn't the prettiest package, but for those with a taste for weirdness and a measure of patience, it's a gift that keeps on giving.
The limited game time to play the game really craps on this game. #2, #3, and now #4 have the crappy day cycle.
#1 is still the best because it gives you time to really do your own playthrough. Not interested in the game anymore.
There are more than 4 days in the game, it's just that the storyline funnels you through the first few days, before allowing story events to be stalled. Until then the story triggers are just missed as each day is passes. The alternative is to not trigger the main stories at all, and follow the independent storyline. Then you can play as many days as you like.
...Well, 'soapy' is a kinder word than I could have used for the 'drama' or, better said, 'content.' The mechanics wouldn't have scared me off, ironically, but for the OTHER little things.
If the reviewers had it right the User Score and the Review Score would be closer.
@Uesugi-dono I don't think so. I have never enjoyed any Way of the Samurai game, and this one looks hideously bad. I think the reviewers are right on this one and the users just have questionable taste.
@DinoBuster @Uesugi-dono And, yeah, I would think twice before taking advice from someone who gives a Way of the Samurai game an 8.0. Sorry, I think they have questionable taste -- at least when it comes to this type of game. I am sure that you look down your nose at fans of certain types of music, film or food.
@DinoBuster @Uesugi-dono I think the pompous thing to do would be to say that the reviewers are somehow wrong because a few gamers seem to like a particular game or series. This is especially true considering that the reviewers backed up and explained their positions. Do these people think they know better than the reviewers do?
@IceJester45 @Uesugi-dono Right, because a decent amount of others enjoy a game series that you don't, they must be the unfortunate victims of "questionable taste". I concur with a lot of the scores you've given other games on your profile, and regardless of whether or not I agree with your particular opinion of Way of The Samurai collectively, your comment makes you sound like a pompous toolbox.
I'd prefer if these games were longer adventures you play once or twice instead of short adventures you play over and over again. I like to get attached to my character, and that doesn't happen if the game is over before you know it.
I'll never understand Gamespot when it comes to Way of the Samurai:
Way of the Samurai 1 - GS: 7.1 User: 8.1
Way of the Samurai 2 - GS: 6.3 User: 8.0
Way of the Samurai 3 - GS: 5.5 User 7.3
Way of the Samurai 4 - GS: 6.0 User: 8.0
Notice a pattern here? It appears that GS reviewers can't just recognize that a series of short, FUN, games can be just as GREAT as a blockbuster. The Gamers consistently LOVE this series, GS, why all the mediocre ho-hum?
@Uesugi-dono It's almost as if they have... a different opinion.
The point of GS is wrong because User rating is "high" is a fallacy.
This game is a classic example of a "niche game".
I enjoy the WofS series since the first one (I think last I checked I beat the game at least 60 times) but I'd be lying if I said that the game doesn't have loads of problems.
Those who enjoy this game will rate it higher to defend it or because to them it's the game they were looking for.
But for other gamers, WotS doesn't have really much to offer and lot of it's flaws will overshadow its shines.
@Uesugi-dono Despite the low score, from the write-up I think the reviewer had some outrageous fun with the game but just decided it isn't for everyone. One of those cult hit series IMO
@Uesugi-dono its obvious. gamespot are a bunch of samurai-hating ninjas
Ninja Gaiden Sigma - GS: 9.0
Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword - GS: 8.5
Even Double Dragon for the GBA got an 8.3.. maybe there's something to your arguement...
@Uesugi-dono Having only played 1 and 2, whats up with the lower score for 3 ? Is it not as good as the previous two games ?
I've played the first 3 and I loved all of them. I can't explain the dislike for 3, I thought it was a lot of fun. I didn't play it as much as 2 though.
Way of the Samurai is definitely one of the most unique games out there. I've seen a fair bit of coverage on the Japanese release. The game is just crazy sometimes. I will probably end up playing this when it gets super cheap. And when I have more time...
Can't lie , Way of Samurai is a serie of games that is hard to appreciate if your not fan of Japanese culture and Samurais.
I've played since the first one for PS2 , always loved then , but then again , i'm a samurai fan.
@suplax I don't think you liking WotS 4 has anything to do with whether or not you like Samurai culture. It might actually be opposite, honestly.