In Akira Kurosawa's classic film Yojimbo, a drifter samurai involves himself with two warring clans, comically playing the two against each other in a bid for self-preservation and honor. In Way of the Samurai, you play a similar (though much less witty) wanderer, who must navigate a conflict between the Kurofu family and the Akadama Clan over the future of a dying town and its iron foundry. The game takes place as the age of the samurai is coming to a close in the late 19th century. Wearing your choice of faces and clothing, you meander through several settings, choosing how to interact with certain characters as the plot develops around you. And, of course, you engage in frequent swordplay. As befitting a game about samurai, the game world offers an interesting combination of Zen atmospherics and machismo posturing. The graphics are often pretty but rarely terrific, although some backgrounds are quite peaceful and attractive. The main strength of the game is the fighting system: each of the swords offers unique moves and attacks. Though it's advertised as a multipath adventure, this is not a free-roaming journey--once you're locked into one of several paths, you basically follow it to its conclusion (though you can do so in a few different ways--think the old Choose Your Own Adventure books). The hitch is that the conclusion is usually only 2-1/2 hours into the game, meaning to derive value from Way of the Samurai, you'll have to play it a dozen times or more. However, the gameplay and unlockable features just aren't interesting enough to warrant playing it that often, which will be clear after you exchange the same bit of dialogue with the same characters for the umpteenth time. Aside from the limited length and repetitive gameplay, the big bummer of Way of the Samurai is the poorly conceived save system. Not only do you have to find an elusive save point before saving, but once you choose to continue playing the game, it automatically erases your last save, meaning you can't start again from the same juncture if you die or have to quit suddenly, and must start from the beginning the next time you play. So, what, exactly, is the point of saving again? --Rivers Janssen Pros: A game about samurai! Pretty cool swordplay You're a vagabond who can ally yourself with whomever you please Cons: Terrible save system Too short Repetitive story and dialogue
- Choose one of four samurai in this Multi-Path adventure. Your "moral" choices determine the outcome of the game.
- Fight in a true 3D environment. Acquire new swords from enemy warlords and learn new fighting stances and styles.
- Head-to-Head Sword Fighting allows you to test your fighting skills against a friend.