The way of the samurai has already accompanied us in a few titles, let’s take these in order now, starting with the less successful games and then closing our list with the best.
The samurai theme is an eternal partner for video games, a great theme that has given birth to many excellent games already. Ancient Japan attracts players and developers alike, as it has plenty of options: it can be strategy games, action, Hack and Slash, RPG, and even, as we know, survivor horror.
The point is to follow the Bushido, the samurai code, in the midst of any challenge. We made our list a little crazy with 2 extra titles that also came to mind. Still, the first place may not be a big surprise, but just read through the list, as you don’t know what you may find!
This list contains 10 games, plus 2 surprise titles that you should definitely try in some form! We also welcome feedback on which samurai-themed games are your favorites!
12. Samurai Shodown Saga
SNK fighting games (Fatal Fury or The King of Fighters) have been with us for almost 30 years. In 1993, the first part of this seven-part series was published. The latest chapter was released last year, released on all major platforms, and was very well received by critics and gamers alike.
11. For Honor
Ubisoft came up with an astonishing concept that eventually hit big: medieval knights, Vikings and samurai clash in their game. It was a risky idea to do this way, but it eventually became a hit, thanks in large part to the superbly tailored multiplayer. In this game, of course, our samurai don’t really care about the Bushido, but that’s not the point here either.
10. Shogun 2: Total War
Before the Creative Assembly let lose an Alien in the fantastic Alien: Isolation, the British team was famous for its strategy games that focused on epic battles. It’s legendary series, the Total War saga, which is almost the same age as the team that has been in business for nearly 30 years, introduced us in 2000 to how it feels when real armies clash with each other.
Because we love samurai, we can only recommend Shogun 2: Total War, which, in addition to being a perfect combat simulation, is also one of the best strategy games on the market.
9. Muramasa: The Demon Blade
Vanillaware, which is responsible for titles like Odin Sphere and Dragon’s Crown, has left us an amazing samurai title for the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation Vita. The game set in the Genroku era, the Golden Age of the samurai, puts us in the role of an amnesic fugitive and a mysterious young woman invaded by the Jinkuro spirit. Lots of action in two dimensions, with unmistakable artistic design.
8. Ronin Blade (Soul of the Samurai in America)
Ronin Blade is one of the least known Konami games, so we would now like to take this opportunity to recommend it. A game mechanics similar to survival horror, in which samurai returning from the afterlife are involved. Interesting, isn’t it? Not a perfect game, but the idea is worth a try.
7. Genji: Dawn of the Samurai
Although the sequel to PlayStation 3 has become more successful, Genji: Dawn of the Samurai is still the game that has grown to cult status over the years. An intense, addictive action-adventure led by industry legend Yoshiki Okamoto, who then left Capcom to found Game Republic.
6. Way of the Samurai (+1 extra game)
The game, which gives one of the most interesting insights into the end of the Edo-period, the end days of the samurai. It does this with a lot of dialogue, combining adventure / RPG elements. Following the Bushido played an important role in the game, but unfortunately, the end of the story is historically accurate, so you know what the fate of our heroes will be.
There are plenty of alternative endings, we can change the fate of the supporting characters and thus the future of Japan with many small details. The fight is also important in the game, for which we also have 40 unique samurai swords. (We start with one sword, we can pick up the rest from our fallen opponents.) So the short game is enlivened by replay, we only have a few days, but we shape its story deeply.
5. Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
If you liked Commandos or love Desperados, don’t miss the samurai game from the makers of the latter! Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is a great stealth tactical strategy. One of the best samurai games we’ve seen in this generation, old school design, but a game approach which itself never gets old!
4. Nioh Saga
Team Ninja dressed the Dark Souls in a samurai robe and how good it is it did! The game builds absolutely on the classic From Software elements while having its own personality, this is especially true for great samurai action. Both Nioh 1 and Nioh 2 are a must-play at this point, recommended for all hardcore players, although these are really hard games!
3. Onimusha Saga
Unfortunately, Capcom’s series which ended 15 years ago – on which Keiji Inafune worked – is a true classic. The first Onimusha has started out as a traditional survival horror with pre-rendered backgrounds (most similar to Resident Evil, with swords), but the sequel has managed to become one of the best Hack and Slash games we’ve ever seen. The third part, Demon Siege, is also great: our medieval Japanese hero has to work with a present-day French policeman, played by Jean Reno (!), adventuring through time.
2. Sword of the Samurai (+1 extra game, Kengo 2: Legacy of the Blade in Japan)
One of the best samurai games ever made. It’s not about a huge story, epic adventures: this game is about inward-looking, contemplation and understanding. According to the code of the Bushido, we have to play as an honest samurai in a sandbox, i.e. open world.
But don’t take this open-world as one that you see in an Assassin’s Creed game: from a menu we could choose the next activity in the middle of our meditations, taking advantage of every hour of the day, going to tournaments, or responding to duel challenges, learning under masters, of course paying close attention to meditation itself.
It’s practically an extreme fighting game with swords, in which we could create thousands of styles combined with 100 different swords. (!) The second piece of the Kengo series got released in Europe under the title Sword of the Samurai, but unfortunately, it never hit store shelves in America, so it remained a little-known title. We can only recommend it to everyone.
1. Ghost of Tsushima
The game that inspired this list. The American Sucker Punch has indeed punched the Japanese market in the face and put a really captivating game on the table from which the samurai atmosphere just flows. The story is Jin Sakai’s revenge story on the path to honor.
How long does the Bushido last and where do you have to break the code to protect your own? Death, revenge, tradition and a hint of the supernatural mingle in this open-world adventure. Ghost of Tsushima is not only an actual, an almost perfect game on the technical front but also one of the best that has ever touched on the subject.
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