hailinel's Samurai Dou 3 (PlayStation 3) review

Avatar image for hailinel
  • Score:
  • hailinel wrote this review on .
  • 7 out of 8 Giant Bomb users found it helpful.
  • hailinel has written a total of 10 reviews. The last one was for Metroid: Other M
  • This review received 2 comments

The Ways of the Samurai are numerous and rewarding.

Way of the Samurai 3 is the latest game in a series of open-world titles set during the age of the samurai.  The story is set in a region of Japan called Amana, where conflict is brewing.  The Fujimori clan overthrew the previously ruling Sakurai clan.  Now the Fujimori rule with tyranny while those loyal to the Sakurai clan have banded together as the Ouka, amassing their own power through hooliganism.  Caught in the middle are the townspeople of Takatane, who only want to live in peace.
 

 Amana is a dangerous place.  Keep your sword at the ready.  You'll need it.
 Amana is a dangerous place.  Keep your sword at the ready.  You'll need it.
This is where the player comes in.  As a ronin, or masterless samurai, the player has mostly free reign over how to proceed from the very start.  To guide the player toward one of the numerous endings, the map marks the location of "inklings," or places where important story events occur.  During these inklings, they player is often asked to make choices that then affect how the rest of the scene plays out, which in turn can affect the player's standing with one or more of the various factions.  Players can also choose to interrupt story sequences by either drawing their swords and initiating combat, or by apologizing, in which case the game proceeds as though the event doesn't happen.
 
While the inklings are key to finding the games many endings, players are also free to simply wander around Amana and do as they like, whether that be practicing swordplay at the dojo, participating in a number of simple minigames, or by simply getting into fights with everyone in sight.  There are also a number of shops scattered about, offering healing items and accessories for sale, while a blacksmith can enhance weapons or forge new ones.
 
And as for what you do with those swords, combat in the game is simple and fairly accessible.  There are two standard attacks, light and heavy, though the attacks become more varied as you collect weapons and fight in a variety of weapon stances.  The player automatically locks on to face a nearby enemy, though the lock-on can be manually shifted to different targets.  It's also possible to switch to the use of the weapon's blunt edge, allowing the player to defeat enemies without killing them.
 
What isn't so simple and accessible is the game's open world structure.  While the player has plenty of freedom to see and do, very little is explained outright.  It took me a about five or six attempts at the game before things really started to click and I managed to survive to see one of the game's endings.  Enjoyment and appreciation of the game are largely determined by the player's own willingness to explore and experiment.
 
Survival in Way of the Samurai 3 is of the utmost importance.  If the player dies, that's it.  There are no extra lives and no respawning.  The game simply ends, and the player is forced to either reload their last save or save the game and restart.  While this sounds punishing, and it certainly can be, the good thing is that when the game restarts, all of the gear and money earned in previous playthroughs carry over.  Still, get into the wrong fight at the wrong time, and the game can end very quickly.  Actually, on any given playthrough, Way of the Samurai 3 isn't very long; there's actually a trophy for getting to an ending in less than an hour, but the amount of replay value afforded by the numerous endings, branching paths, and the New Game + are able to extend its play time significantly.
 
Way of the Samurai 3 is not a pretty game, but it's not ugly, either.  While the graphics aren't the sharpest on the PS3, the look and feel manage to successfully evoke the Sengoku Period of Japan quite well.  The music is also atmospheric and distinctive, mixing eastern and western classical instruments in a soundtrack that's well done and perfectly suited to the game.  Japanese and English voice tracks are included, though voice acting is sparse during gameplay and is only truly present during the numerous cinematics.
 
Way of the Samurai 3 is not a perfect game.  It has its share of quirks, and the game asks for a lot from the player by requiring them to understand the game through exploration and making mistakes.  On the other hand, once the game clicks, it can become very enjoyable even when the player's character dies since it's easy to start over and try a different approach.  As much as some of its mechanics may push people away, learning by playing and starting over with each death can be a rewarding experience.  In a sense, there's more about the world of Way of the Samurai 3 that's actually open to the player than what's found in more popular games like Grand Theft Auto IV and Saint's Row 2.

Other reviews for Samurai Dou 3 (PlayStation 3)

    Mini Review: A samurai's journey never ends... 0

    So I finally got around to playing through one of my favorite budget titles from Spike. The way of the samurai series has always been unique in the many ways it mixes RPG/action and story progression. They added a few new things in but this is pretty much the same exact game as the other ones. Lets start off with a little preview of what kind of choices you might make.You start off as a ronin samurai who has been wounded from the previous battle. A townsperson comes up to you and asks if your o...

    2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.