As you all probably know, we recently revealed that following last year’s successful Steam release of prestigious ‘Famitsu Gold Award’ winner, Way of the Samurai 4, we will be bringing its mighty prequel, Way of the Samurai 3 to Steam next Wednesday 23rd March 2016. Developed and published in Japan by Acquire and Spike Chunsoft, Way of the Samurai 3 is a key part of the million+ selling Way of the Samurai series and we’re delighted to again be working alongside both Acquire and Spike Chunsoft in continuing this popular series! So, I thought now was a good time to give you guys some info on the game and what separates it from Way of the Samurai 4. I’ve played over 200 hours each of both games in the process of localising them to PC, so I feel I’m in a pretty good position to share my thoughts with you :)
Fair warning: I’m going to assume you’re familiar with WotS4, so if you’re not, then why not visit the Way of the Samurai 4 Wikipedia page?
So here are the main differences that, I think, make Way of the Samurai 3 the greatest in the series so far:
- A more traditional story:
Way of the Samurai 3’s story is grounded in a far more traditional setting than the admittedly-very-interesting story of foreign integration found in WotS4. In WotS3, you are the lone survivor on the losing side of a battle that took place immediately prior to the start of the game. After waking up in the poor, peace-loving Takatane village, the people make it clear that, as a samurai, you’re far from welcome. Over the course of the next few days the player will interact with the villagers, Fujimori clan, who’s Lord, Shuzen, rules Amana with an iron fist and with the hedonistic Ouka Clan bandits who don’t want to be ruled by Shuzen, or anyone else.
These three factions, and some other interesting side-players, feature eccentric characters that interact in many interesting ways. The wealth of choices you have in WotS3 can be a little overwhelming initially, but I came to look on the game as a kind of ‘Groundhog Day’ version of a classic samurai tale.The story plays out over just a few days, and it’s in experimenting with different choices on successive playthroughs that the game really comes alive. It feels like a game you ‘live in’ which is something that fans of the series have loved all along but I think WotS3 shows this aspect of the series at its best.
- Greater player agency:
As I mentioned briefly above, I feel like I’m able to make more choices more often in Way of the Samurai 3 than in other entries. You can choose to help, ignore, kill or knock out other key figures in the story pretty much whenever you want, and the game always seems to have an eventuality prepared for whatever crazy thing you do.
It’s really fun trying to test the game in this way, and with so many endings it’s awesome seeing where decisions take you. The day/night cycle also influences what decisions you’ll be able to make and gives you massive incentive to play over and over again, trying to see everything that’s on offer.
This huge trust in the player and greater feeling of agency was scaled back in WotS4, and compensated for with a greater variety of crazy outfits for your samurai which were a lot of fun. I prefer the looser approach taken by WotS3 though, and you can still create some awesome characters, especially if you make use of the wealth of costumes and accessories on offer. ;D
- Faster-paced combat:
In some ways WotS3 has a less complex combat system than WotS4. For example, swords you create are limited in terms of the stance you can use, but I find the overall combat system more streamlined and fun. Pushing and pulling remain an important consideration (especially at higher difficulties!) and you can appreciate this when you go and challenge Sensei and her assistants at the Guard Gate area. The game also benefits from an awesome ‘Instant Kill’ system which you can activate in the options, enabling you to QTE-kill masses of enemies.This is provided you block the first attack at the exact instant it hits your blade, and can then keep up with the button prompts that assail you thereafter. It makes extended combat sessions less of a grind and arguably more streamlined and fun than they were in WotS4, which I personally find a huge improvement.
- TONS of endings:
WotS3 features an incredible 22 different endings! That’s not a typo: there are TWENTY TWO genuinely different endings for you to find and STACKS of titles for you to try and unlock by acting in varying ways during the game. You’ll most likely need to use a guide to find everything, but luckily an amazing player called EVERYTHING69 has you covered with an incredible guide on GameFAQs, which you can find here. One ending requires you to kill EVERY major character in the game except yourself, and figuring out just HOW to do that is really fun. The ‘best’ ending, which provides the best outcome for more-or-less every character in the game, is also great fun to achieve and probably the most satisfying in terms of storytelling. The feeling of living the same few days over and over and trying to achieve better and better outcomes is really cool, and using your aggregated money and parts to create ever-greater weapons also keeps things exciting and fresh. :)
- More secretive secrets:
As I’ve already mentioned, Way of the Samurai 3 can overwhelm newcomers at first, but that’s in service of an amazing feeling of discovery and ‘place’ in the world of Amana for those who persist. There are exclusive weapons hidden in some crazy places, and some awesome side missions that result in really enjoyable and memorable encounters. Perhaps the most fun ‘secrets’ are in finding each of the partners in the game who help you in differing ways and even move into your hut for a while if you do the right things. Taking your time to get a feel for the world and learn its secrets is probably the main reason that this is my favourite entry in the series. And who doesn’t want to try and charm every cat in the game world? I mean, how cool is that??
Well, that’s it: my reasons why I think Way of the Samurai 3 is the greatest edition in this franchise although I should say that I really enjoyed WotS4 too of course – both are awesome for different reasons J And next Wednesday you’ll be able to try it out on Steam for yourselves with all the usual benefits the PC version brings (Steam Trading Cards, Steam Achievements, Cloud Saves, and mouse/keyboard/controller support) making it the best way to experience WotS3. If you’ve never played it before, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it and if you’ve previous experience on console, get ready to welcome an old friend back into your life. See you in Amana! :)
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