Become an unnamed Samurai and forge your own adventure.
Way of the Samurai 3, from Acquire, offers players a sandbox, open world in which they can join various factions, or not if they choose, and follow their own path, be it good or evil. Collect Samurai points and earn your warrior a title of his own.
The player begins as a wounded Samurai warrior on the battlefield. From here, through a series of encounters and decisions, the player has the chance to join one of the warring factions in the area. These factions can be joined by gaining favour and running errands. Random encounters will help to add a certain amount of variety to the game. With various different paths to take through the game and a collection of different endings, Way of the Samurai 3 will offer multiple playthroughs in which players can explore different experiences and ways of playing.
The first thing I noticed about this game is the lack of direction. Upon waking on the battlefield, I wandered for a while with no idea of what to do or where to go. When I finally found a town, I managed to get myself some missions and a purpose. The open world, do what you want setting of this game is a great idea, in concept, but some direction is at least needed.
Anyway, the ability to do what you want is carried through not only the missions of the game. Players are able to kill just about anyone that they want, with the exception of children. Once killed, they stay dead as well, which is always nice. Should the player be a more peace loving sort, then using the blunt side of the blade will allow them to simply give a massive beat down, rather than killing. Again, this can have far reaching consequences, as quite often those you beat will come back and cause trouble later.
The combat is one of the high points in the game. Although it starts out relatively simply, as the game progresses and the player gains experience, so do the combat styles that become available. Upgrading the players weapon also opens the possibility of different combat styles. There are over 200 pieces that can be found during the game, allowing for highly customisable weapons. Whilst the movement during combat can be slightly clumsy, it is still enjoyable. The game itself is quite short but, further encouraging multiple playthroughs, all of your weapons and statistics are carried from one game to the next, allowing you to become more powerful, the more times you play.
Way of the Samurai 3 features graphics that could have quite easily been taken from the last generation of consoles. The game looks tired and worn, with very little of interest to look at during your travels. Given that this massive open world contains, in reality, only eight areas to travel to, something to look at would have been nice. Players will find themselves constantly traveling from one area to the other, should they follow given missions in the game, which only compounds the games lack of variety. Even the character models within the game don’t move as fluidly as they should, seeming awkward and old.
There are some wonderful little details in this game, such as the ability to force an encounter into a conflict by the simple drawing of the sword, or being able to apologise and calm a situation. Of the missions that become available, most are of a pretty standard finding/collecting type, but occasionally the game throws up a totally bizarre mission, that can only be laughed at. Find the old ladies knickers? How can you take that seriously.
Way of the Samurai 3 has a lot of problems, with the lack of direction and uninspiring graphics. But, all of that aside, the game offers some really interesting ideas. The lack of polish will put a lot of people off playing the game for any amount of time, and I can understand that completely. Maybe the next installment will fix these problems and allow gamers to see what a great game this could be.