This shouldn’t surprise, as the entirety franchise has actually rightly deserve its call for being weird, quirky, and all way of labels supplied to identify Japanese games. That said, like its predecessors, Way that the Samurai 4offers an suffer that is fairly unlike nearly anything else on the market, one unreplicated since the PS2 era except by other Way that the Samuraigames.

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Unfortunately, the franchise’s syndicate on that layout of play has made developer acquire complacent, content to issue incremental updates fairly than to work-related on resolving the series’ flaws. These flaws, and also a couple of new decision that might divide even sympathetic fans, will when again death Way of the Samuraito the niche the obscurity, the fourth time it will certainly be differentiated — and also subsequently dismissed — as a weird, quirky, love-it-or-hate-it Japanese game.

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Way that the Samurai 4(PlayStation 3)Developer: AcquirePublisher: XSEEDMRSP: $39.99 (PSN download only)Release: August21, 2012

For the uninitiated, Way of the Samurai games, (this one included)are best described together structured, samurai-themed take away on the open-worldgenre. Each installment drops players right into the toe-socks of a nameless wandering samurai make his method through some location embroiled infactional turmoil. The crisis this time is ~ above the island the Amihama in the 19th century, as foreign powers come in Japan and also crack its three-hundred-year isolation.

And with upheaval comes conflict. The British and their “Black Ships” are below to spread trade, guns, and English. The shogunate magistrates room out to exploit the chaos for fun and profit. The xenophobic disciples of Prajna arrangement to expel the barbarians in ~ sword-point.

Over the food of 5 days in Amihama (it’s much longer than the sounds), players are complimentary to tool approximately Amihama, aligning themselves through one faction or another, law odd jobs, simply sleep the mainly away, or even just turn around and also leave town seconds after castle arrive. All are equally valid options.

That said, the plot chin lacks several of the personal touch that identified earlier games. Couple of attempts room made to construct the miscellaneous faction characters, and also it becomes difficult to get attached come any particular side. A somewhat creepy sideplot involves adopting a foreign girl (who has a like on the player) together a tiny sibling, yet otherwise couple of characters truly endear.

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Way the the Samuraisucceeds where numerous other open-world games fail in that it manages come convey the feeling of a location that has actually a life that its own, rather than a static space that exist at the player’s leisure. It might not have the vistas of Skyrimor the geographical distinctiveness that Liberty City, however Amihama feels favor a actual locale, one that deserve to — and also will — go on, even if it is one cares to act in it or not. The puts the onus ~ above the player to really make their mark on the human being — or not.

Players will go around making that mark greatly by encountering various events scattered around town over the food of your adventure. The events, i m sorry are significant on the map (allowing players to avoid them if castle choose), selection from full missions to short cutscenes, and most involve do one decision or another, the outcomes of which determine what occasions come next, causing one of ten unique endings. The game doesn’t list as soon as or where certain events happen, however the in-game journal tracks previously visited scene in a flowchart, do it much easier to follow which events lead come which endings.

Averaging at around 3-5 hrs per playthrough (assuming one goes because that “proper” endings each time), Way of the Samurai 4is clearly intended to enjoy over many replays. In fact, the takes the concept of persistence in an amazing direction. Some plot occasions (and their consequences) have the right to remain also after the video game loops around. For example, the an initial time through, players will certainly be totally unable to interact with international NPCs. However, once a mission is completed to open a language school, the foreigners begin to speak English, instead of “!!!?!?!?!”. Recruiting particular characters for the dojo or to operation the shop stay as well.

After every playthrough, players are provided a “Samurai Rating” monitoring their decisions, and are awarded point out that deserve to be used to purchase unlocks, including new outfits, accessories, the capacity to adjust gender (though the game still treats the player as male), and other weird objects, including a wearable tutu, afro hairstyles, and also the clothes and appearances of various generic NPCs.

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Side quests additionally abound in Amihama. Players deserve to take ~ above odd jobs to accumulate cash, take over a dojo and recruit student — through beating random passers-by fifty percent to death and telling lock “You’re my pupil!” — seduce women and also engage in a relatively disturbing “Night Crawling” minigame that requires sneaking right into their dwellings to spirit them to the nearest inn.Crime is also handled interestingly. Offending players captured can be torture by the authorities via a waterboarding minigame (implemented humorously), and surviving recurring sessions have the right to endear castle to specific sadistic ladies.

Night Crawling and dragooning potential dojo student are simply some the the strange and also characterful escapades permeating Way that the Samurai 4. The game sells a somewhat strange idea the freedom. Rather of being free to roam anywhere and also take one’s time when the human being waits, football player are complimentary to, within the boundaries of the game’s structure (its time limit and story progression) act as they will, also if they desire to action silly.

Players are totally free to interrupt dramatic cutscenes by heckling the entrants or questioning inane questions prefer a college student yelling “Wooo!” at a commencement ceremony, or draw their swords and provoke a fight. They can slay quest givers and even the NPC photographers that serve as save points. Thefts isn’t so lot an action of stealth as it is buying something and running away without paying, as the shopkeeper hounds one down, attempting to kick the player in the shins.

XSEED’s localization also underscores how silly the video game is at heart. The firm has opted to translate and localize most of the game’s ridiculous puns, revealing knife styles called “Cantgetmi” and also “Penetrator,” and characters favor “Laurie Lita,” “Jet Jenkins,” and also “Melinda Megamelons” (!). Folks hope to treat the game like an open-world Yojimbowill have challenge taking Way the the Samurai 4seriously.

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Silliness aside, the meat the the video game which lies in that combat and crafting system. Amihama virtually overflows v swords and spears, and also players will invest a substantial amount that time collecting them and dozens of unique combat layouts that come through them. Styles selection from upper stance develops to the infamous “Iaido”-style attract stances. Individual moves are unlocked in one achievement-like system, such together unlocking a particular strike by kicking an adversary to death, or eating food throughout combat. Learned move can eventually be linked together to create a tradition style, so unlocking as many moves as possible is encouraged.

Unlike ahead games, layouts are no much longer locked to certain weapons, and also any layout can be used with any kind of weapon. This frees up players to concentrate on collecting swords to disassemble for parts, assembling their ideal, signature weapon.

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Way the the Samurai 4has additionally made some changes from vault systems, introducing a kind of regenerating health and wellness to the combat. Players have actually both “vitality” and also “health.” Vitality is drained by attacking and also travel, when health can only be lost in combat. So lengthy as a player has actually vitality remaining, health will regenerate. Various items such together food regenerate vitality. Enemies additionally use this system, therefore fighting hard foes often involves beating them v the level of one’s tongue to whittle under their vitality (and for this reason their regeneration) before switching to lethal strikes to end up the job.

Also included is the “Spring Harvest,” a gauge that fills together players death enemies and take damage. Triggering the spring Harvest slows down time and also removes every recovery and break animations, enabling players to infinitely string together rapid strikes and make brief work of entire groups or challenging bosses.

Sadly, the “One-Hit Kill” challenge setting has actually been removed, and the capability to immediately kill an opponent after a respond to is gone. Together a an outcome some ceo fights have tendency to drag, and also folks that regard the series as a Bushido BladeRPG will certainly be disappointed.

The game likewise maintains some rudimentary digital connectivity in the players deserve to upload their personalities to the network and also have them get in other players’ gamings as wandering duelists. Defeating such characters can net duplicates of the player’s sword, and exceedingly powerful weapons deserve to be encountered. The said, I have yet come encounter an additional player’s avatar in ~ all.

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For every this character and also uniqueness, Way that the Samurai 4unfortunately stumbles in the same place as the predecessors, in the it stops working utterly to interact its strengths. Players there is no the dedication to stick it the end or check out on their own will only see an awkward, rough-hewn action game through a pointless open up world. It doesn’t help that practically all the game’s systems space undocumented, barring a few combat tooltips in ~ the beginning. Newbies to the collection should one of two people be plugged into a walkthrough or have a valuable fan to guide them along.

The rough edges also creep right into the combat, together it have the right to be quite complicated to perform particular combat accomplishments (such as kicking an enemy to fatality while lied on the ground).

Visually, the game does small to was standing out, and also looks like a mid-generation PS2 game at times. The assorted characters’ animations room exaggerated and also theatrical, together the lack of voice acting for most personalities (subtitled Japanese) pressures most come pantomime their emotions and also sentences. It all looks hilarious, but may rotate off graphic nuts.

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In the end, and also like its predecessors, way of the Samurai 4is one “acquired” taste (pun intended), and also tends to demand that players provide a tiny to gain the most out the it. Unfortunately, many players won’t, when again dooming it come the ghetto that niche interests and “quirky” Japanese titles.

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Those ready to stick with the game, however, will uncover a unique, financially rewarding experience the to date, can’t be uncovered anywhere else.