I like to imagine there’s a game series out there, one that merges the history of the samurai with the oddball nature found in a lot of Japan’s popular media. A game series that is both steeped in history, while still being screwy enough to capture the weirdness that Japan has become so beloved for. Well, look no further my fellow fans of weird video-games, for there is a series that caters to those strangely specific needs!
“Way of The Samurai” was made by the game company “Acquire”, best known for making the rather odd action series “Akiba’s Trip”. Acquire was assisted in development of the game by another studio named “Spike”. Together, they created the first Way of The Samurai game, and history was made!
The main purpose of the game was to allow the play to craft their own experience, by giving the player the tools to be the kind of samurai they wanted! Even though the first two games lacked the character customization and surreal comedy of the succeeding games, they still set the bar high for what these games could do.
While these early titles gave you a pre-made character, they allowed you to do what you wanted. You chose how to engage in the story, which factions to align yourself with, and what kind of samurai you wanted to be. Heck, later games even let you be a pacifist! That’s right, you could choose to use non-lethal means to take down your opponents and not take a single life at all.
Conversely, you could choose to be a violent and merciless samurai warrior, destroying all in your way. As the games went on, they allowed you to make more and more choices. At this point, you were given free-reign to better craft the samurai you want as your avatar. Way of The Samurai 3 was the natural stepping stone in this, allowing better customization and world-building.
To be honest, I’ve only played a bit of the first 2 games, mostly through emulation. It’s hard to find them in stores nowadays, and I lack the PS2 to be able to play them. However, I recently picked up both the 3rd game on Steam and am having a blast with it!
In Way of The Samurai 3, you could choose from one of many branching paths to take in the story. The game does have 22 endings, so it’ll take a lot of playthroughs to see everything! WoTS 3 has a rather interesting story, but you won’t get the most out of it on just one playthrough.
All of the games in the series are meant to be played through more than one, giving the series a fair amount of replay value. On top of this, you can carry over all your gear and items from one play-through to the next, which is much appreciated! Way of The Samurai 3 follows the same general plot as the previous games: You are a nameless samurai, one who was the lone survivor of an epic battle.
From there, you venture through the town of Amana and discover the game’s various factions. What’s interesting is that they all have their own pros and cons, making each group distinct from each other. You have the forces of Castle Amana, who are immensely strong, but are lead by a man who is too ambitious for his own good. You then have the villagers, who wish to simply live in peace, but lack the drive or desire to defend themselves. You then have the Ouka Clan, who fight for a noble cause, but are led by a complete coward.
These three factions are all joinable, and each offer several entertaining side-quests to go along with them. I think the best to way describe WoTS 3 is that it’s Fallout New Vegas, if it skipped directly to the third act. WoTS 3 was also that turning point in the series, in which it started to embrace the more nonsensical and goofy elements that it would come to be known for.
The story is kept mostly serious, though the stuff that happens outside of cutscenes borders on insanity. One such example is how you talk to NPCs, you’ll often get odd replies from seemingly normal answers. You could tell a person that you’re doing great, and then they’ll steal yen from you! Or you could help a mysterious individual, only to end up fighting against a warrior from a completely different game series entirely! Yeah, it’s one of THOSE games.
WoTS 3 is definitely an amazingly fun game, but it has a ton of problems. The game doesn’t fully explain what you need to do, so you’ll find yourself just walking around and engaging in activities until the plot kicks in. All of the customization options needs to be unlocked, which severely limits your customization for your first few playthroughs. There is an exploit you can use to unlock everything in the game early, as shown below.
The options themselves are limited to heads, different bodies, and some accessories. This means you can’t fully design a character the way you could in other games. While the game does have 22 different endings, a lot of them are just variations on pre-existing ones.
Despite the game’s clunky nature, the lack of direction, and the extremely dated (even for the time) graphics, the game was still a ton of fun! I’ve played through the game three times, and even used an exploit to unlock all the customization features. While the game definitely has its problems, it’s one of those few games that I felt really let me be the kind of samurai I’ve always looked up to.
You’re probably wondering what I think of the game’s sequel as well? I both both of them during this recent Holiday Steam sale, but have only played 3 so far. I dabbled in a bit of 4, but had problems due to issues with the screen resolution settings. Still, I had fun with what little I’ve played of it! Honestly, I recommend playing any WoTS game, if you’re lucking for some fun and random samurai action. Just be warned, they aren’t the prettiest games, and they’ve got problems in a lot of areas. Still, it’s one of the few games where you can beat an army of thugs while wielding a vegetable, so it’s definitely A-OK with me!