Not a lot of people will remember the first Way of the Samurai game on PlayStation 2, but the little action adventure game contributed more to gaming history than you might realize. “Moral choice” has become one of the more popular mechanics of this generation of consoles, and while Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic often gets the credit for pioneering the idea on consoles, Way of the Samurai actually beat it out the gate by an entire year.
I would go so far as to say that Way of the Samurai trumped KOTOR‘s moral system by telling vastly different plots based on your choices rather than the black-and-white “be nice/be mean” style found in many games today.
A much larger game, Way of the Samurai 4 takes place around the end of Japanese isolation, and your customizable samurai can either help prevent foreign intervention in Japan by siding with anti-shogunate rebels or help the foreigners get their foothold in the new country.
So far, reactions state it has taken everything back to basics an focusing on what made the original so much fun, and less on what ruined the lackluster sequels. The game will available exclusively through PlayStation Network for $39.99. No signs of a retail version are in sight.
In the meantime, give Way of the Samurai a chance. It should be cheap these days. The confusing saving system might take a while to get used to, but the quick adventures only take two hours at most to beat. Seeing everything will require at least six playthroughs, and afterwards, the world map and solid fighting mechanics provide a decent samurai sandbox to live out your sword swinging fantasies.