Way Of The Samurai 4 is a game that has a great deal of potential. There’s an unlimited amount of freedom, multiple storylines to play through, and a wealth of side missions and minigames. Unfortunately, graphical issues and over-simplified combat prevent the game from reaching that potential.
The game takes place in the fictional town of Amihama, Japan in the later half of the 19th century just as Japan discards its isolationist policies. During this period, there’s a lot of trouble brewing in Amihama. The town’s governed by a corrupted shogunate, native gangs are trying to stop the British from entering their home, and thugs wander the streets terrorizing bystanders.
Our protagonist, a nameless samurai who’s look and identity is completely up to you, arrives in Amihama and sees how serious the conflict has become. Immediately, he has to make a moral decision to either help a young British consolate who’s being victimized or let the situation go without any involvement. There are many moral decisions that are made, and most of these decisions affect how the rest of that storyline will play out. There are five different storylines to follow and ten different endings.
You may either follow the shogunate, join the gang of rebels, work to help the British, join the local authorities, or do all of the above. Without doing side missions, one can get through each storyline in about an hour, warranting multiple playthroughs. How you play the game and who you choose to work with is completely up to you. You could just spend your time doing side missions and not worry about the story if you so desired.
Simply put, the graphics in this game aren’t very good. The characters look like they were cut-and-pasted and lack detail. There’s even a noticable outline of where the characters merge with the scenery which isn’t aesthetically pleasing. The environments and cutscenes look a bit better but are still inferior to most games out there. The camera also poses serious problems.
It’s isn’t stationary, and can be moved according to your perspective. However, there were too many instances when it wouldn’t move because I was stuck into a corner during combat. It’s hard to be successful when you can’t see what’s coming at you.
While the sounds of this game aren’t good, they do provide a bit of nostalgia. The sound of a striking sword is reminiscent to Bushido Blade and the sounds of your enemies falling makes you feel like you’re in a samurai flick. The soundtrack is pretty good but is very limited. There’s a different song for each area of the city you visit, and those songs do not change. Luckily, the quality of the music is good enough where it isn’t too irritating.
As a whole, it’s the gameplay that stops this game from achieving greatness. The developers didn’t put enough emphasis on combat, which is a serious let down considering that Way Of The Samurai 4 is a game that puts emphasis on combat. The sword fighting is very simplified. Square unleashes a light attack, triangle stikes with a strong attack, and using the analog while executing a light attack will do a guard-breaking strike. To evade strikes, you can either block or roll out of the way.
That’s how the combat is regardless of which weapon you use. That would be fine if the combat was fast pace and exciting, but it isn’t. The combat is really sluggish and makes fighting seem more like an obligation than something you would actually want to do.
With the amount of things there is to do and the replay value, Way Of The Samurai 4 has a lot to offer. However, technical issues including poor combat, an unstable camera, and underdeveloped graphics stop the game from reaching the heights that it’s capable of.
This could be a great series if the developers added some complexity to the combat and fixed some of the technical issues. But, as for this entry, it’s not quite up to snuff.