Way of the Samurai 4 is the latest effort by XSEED and NIS to bring great Japanese games to the Western Market. XSEED has been on a roll lately, most notably for bringing over Mistwalker’s The Last Story, and should be applauded for their efforts. Way of the Samurai comes to us from Acquire, the developer best known in America for the Tenchu series.
My first concern upon booting the game for the first time was the screen-tearing. I noticed it almost immediately, and it persisted during the initial cutscenes and gameplay. Then it continued as I progressed through the first town, and was easy to replicate at any time just by standing next to a flat surface and moving the camera. It has been absolutely rampant throughout my first run, which is pretty disappointing.
That said, it does not prevent Way of the Samurai 4 from being enjoyable. I wanted to get that bit about the screen tearing out of the way early, because it is really the only major gripe that I have about the game. These kinds of things usually bother me to no end, but still I’m finding that I want to continue playing. If you can overlook the issue, there is still a lot of fun to be had.
Being a newcomer to the fifth game in the series, I was surprised that I did not have any trouble getting accustomed to the game. It is a standalone story, so playing the previous titles is absolutely not required. And the game does a nice job of walking you through the core gameplay in the beginning, then letting you roam free for the remainder of the adventure.
This brings us to the thing I like most about the game so far- the structure. It is definitely a structured adventure game, not unlike The Legend of Zelda, etc. But at the same time, it has an open-world feel to it. To me, it really seems like it bridges the gap between the two genres a bit. I can stray away from the main quests, explore the towns, and take on dozens and dozens of side quests. Granted, most of the side quests are fetch quests of one kind or another, but I find the setting to be charming enough to make me want to wander around and interact with everyone and everything.
The developer’s intention for the player to do multiple playthroughs is rather clear, what with the branching missions paths paved by the likes of a moral choice system, multiple endings, trophies that require successive runs, and the ability to duel your old saved character. I’ll be playing the game through a few more times myself.
Look for the full review of Way of the Samurai 4 next week!