Lightning-fast katana blows, deadly but honorable duels, and following the way of bushido – samurai world was as much exciting as it was dangerous.
Now, after the fall of samurai back in the 1870s, this fascinating medieval Japanese era can only be experienced through various works of culture and art, including books, movies, and games. Today we’ll show you some great games that allow you to feel like a true and dauntless samurai.
|Sekiro : Shadows Die Twice - GOTY Edition||2019-03-22||Adventure||FromSoftware, Inc.||-|
|Nioh: Complete Edition||2017-11-07||RPG||KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.||-78%|
|Nioh 2 – The Complete Edition||2021-02-05||Action RPG||Team NINJA||-57%|
|For Honor | Starter Edition||2017-02-13||Action & Shooter||Blue Byte||-|
|Onimusha: Warlords / 鬼武者||2019-01-15||Action||CAPCOM CO., LTD.||-68%|
|Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun||2016-12-06||Indie||Mimimi Productions||-94%|
|NOBUNAGA'S AMBITION: Sphere of Influence||2015-09-01||Strategy||KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.||-|
|SAMURAI WARRIORS: Spirit of Sanada||2017-05-23||Action & Shooter||KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.||-|
|Way of the Samurai 4||2015-07-23||Adventure||ACQUIRE Corp.||-|
|Samurai Riot||2017-09-13||Action||Wako Factory||-74%|
|Total War: Saga - Fall of the Samurai||2012-03-22||Strategy||Feral Interactive (Linux)||-66%|
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
The first game on the list is one of the latest entries in the samurai-related genre. Sekiro was developed by the people responsible for the Dark Souls franchise, which should give you a hint about this title. Gameplay-wise, similarly to many other FromSoftware games, Sekiro also puts emphasis on demanding boss battles, where one should not expect to breeze through the content.
Instead, some encounters will make you die a lot while learning boss’ moves and special abilities and trying to figure out a strategy to beat the more powerful opponents. The game takes place during the fictionalized version of the Sengoku period in medieval Japan. Although the game is considered fiction, some areas and buildings were inspired by the real Japanese architecture and environment. Sekiro implements some role-playing elements, such as gear upgrading and a skill tree.
Nioh: Complete Edition
|Developer:||KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.|
Another possible option if one wishes to experience the samurai era would be Nioh. In certain aspects it is very similar to Sekiro – it is also set during the Sengoku period and also focuses on difficult boss fights. What makes the two games different is, of course, the presented story, and the combat mechanics. In Nioh fighting feels more dynamic and responsive, creating a false conviction that the game is easier – it’s not.
You still need to carefully plan your strikes and wait for the perfect opportunity to not risk being accidentally hit and killed, but it will happen a lot, anyway. Fighting in Nioh is not limited to melee, as there are also ranged weapons available, as well as powerful magic spells that can aid you during your journey. What also makes the title different from Sekiro is multiplayer options – here you can, for example, summon other players to help you, or be the one who answers someone’s call.
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
For Honor is not your typical samurai game. Although it is set in the medieval period, it does not focus solely on Japan, meaning that during play you will be able to pick your warrior from among three different groups – European knights, Scandinavian vikings, and of course, Japanese samurai. For Honor comes with several single-player campaigns and scenarios, but it is multiplayer where it starts to really shine.
Available playing modes include dominion, where two teams of four have to capture points and kill enemy minions, and skirmish, where teams gain points by killing enemies. For those looking for a more competitive play, there is also a ranked duel mode, allowing players to compete in one-on-one duels against people of similar skill level and advance to higher ranks by winning more games.
Total War: Shogun 2
|Developer:||Feral Interactive (Linux)|
Total War series is best known for combining the turn-based strategy with real-time battles, and it’s all the same with Total War: Shogun 2. You won’t play the role of a single samurai here, but instead, you will command large armies of samurai as a clan’s daimyo who tries to unite war-torn Japan under his banner. The game takes place during the Sengoku period and focuses solely on the islands of Japan, excluding Hokkaido, but there is also the possibility to start trading with Europe.
Doing so provides early access to matchlock units and cannons but at the price of greater exposure to Christianity, which may result in an increase of religious unrest in the owned provinces. Playing the game requires deep strategic thinking and utilizing special agents in the form of ninjas, monks, and metsukes to, for example, sabotage enemies or prevent assassination attempts.
Onimusha: Warlords / 鬼武者
|Developer:||CAPCOM CO., LTD.|
Sengoku Jidai seems to be the most popular choice for samurai-related games when choosing the period, and it’s not much different in Onimusha: Warlords. Although the game was first released back in 2001, it also received a remastered edition. It was released in January 2019 and added both a high-resolution and 16:9 format support, as well as improved controls that make fighting more accessible. The game tells the story of Samanosuke who arrives at Inabayama castle, answering the call of his cousin, princess Yuki, who’s worried about the disappearance of people from the castle.
Upon his arrival, the princess is kidnapped by demons, and he is left unconscious. After he wakes up he is granted otherworldly powers and from now on may absorb souls of the demons he kills. With new powers, he has to start his quest to save princess Yuki and find the one responsible for it. The game features a static camera that was used in early Resident Evil games. For those not familiar with the concept, it can be compared to watching the action on the conveniently placed surveillance cameras.
Katana Zero is the perfect choice for those who loved Hotline Miami and will appeal to anyone who prefers fast-paced dynamic action in the retro-style with a simple but catchy synth-wave soundtrack. Katana Zero is a platform game with a lot of fast action going on, testing the limits of your reflexes and reaction times. There is no health bar, meaning one hit is enough to kill your character, forcing you to replay the entire sequence until you finally succeed.
The game consists of many platform levels, where your objective is usually to eliminate all visible opponents. You can do so by using basic attacks with your katana or utilizing environmental traps. You can also slow down time and reflect bullets using your blade and dodge attacks that target you. But the dynamic action is only half of the bigger picture – the game also features a deep and complex story you will be eager to unfold. It’s dark and surprising, never giving a hint of what comes next.
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
This interesting and unique production lets you command a team of deadly specialists and sneak through the enemy lines to achieve your goal. It is set in medieval Japan around the Edo period, meaning samurai and such are often sight. You will find yourself infiltrating the enemy castles, camps, and monasteries. The title revolves around tactical real-time encounters, where you have several different and unique characters ready for your commands. You need to utilize their strengths and special abilities, coordinate their actions and work as a team to achieve seemingly impossible results.
Each of the five characters has its own place in the team. For example, one can silently approach his enemies from behind, neutralizing them personally and hide the body in the nearby bushes, while the other who specializes in traps and decoys, can distract the enemies giving other teammates more time and room for their own actions. Combining all of your character’s strengths is the key to success.
NOBUNAGA’S AMBITION: Sphere of Influence
|Developer:||KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.|
The last game on the list once again takes us to the Sengoku Jidai of feudal Japan, where multiple clans fight for power and domination over the war-torn country. The game is quite complex and the number of possible actions may seem overwhelming at first, but once you master the basics, it becomes pure fun. As for a good grand strategy, the title lets you choose your clan first, each having their own power and starting position on the map of Japan.
After that, the real game begins. There are too many possible actions to describe them all, and learning how to properly use them is a part of the fun. We’ll just mention you can form alliances, arrange marriages, offer treasure to other clans, develop your cities, survey for minerals, manage officers, declare wars, and much more. The battles, unlike in Total War series, are simplified and are limited to executing simple orders like charge or provoke, saving some time and allowing you to focus more on the management aspect of your clan.
Samurai were the hereditary military nobility of Japan between the 12th and 19th centuries. We often recognize them as people wielding two swords, wearing armor made from multiple large iron and leather scales, and hiding their faces behind devilish masks that were meant to sow fear among the enemy lines. Samurai was a retained but fierce power of the daimyo. They were fearless and relentless, but they were also honorable and they strictly followed the bushido codes of martial virtues.
Because of their abolition in the 1870s, samurai are no more, and the only reliable source of knowledge about their fights, their equipment, and their motives, lies inside numerous books, movies, and other works of culture and art. Samurai were an inspiration for many authors and directors, including Akira Kurosawa, who opened the gates of the exciting samurai world to foreigners – some of his award-winning movies, such as Kagemusha and Ran, became popular all over the world, reaching the people living far away from Japan. They were even an inspiration for George Lucas, who often admitted his sci-fi Star Wars series was heavily influenced by Kurosawa’s works.
Samurai world also became an inspiration for many fictional works and video games, allowing people to experience the thrills of samurai life themselves – no longer their role was limited to a passive observer of the ongoing events. With video games, it became possible to take an active part in the presented story. As a result, the samurai era was further popularized, especially among the younger audience, giving birth to a new wave of samurai-related titles.
There are many interesting games when one looks for the samurai-oriented titles. You can be one of the samurai or you can take the role of a warlord who commands thousands of samurai warriors and sends them to battle. Some games favor a silent approach, while others encourage you to fight in the open. No matter the genre, there is surely something for everyone. Pick your favorite samurai title from the list above and enjoy hours and hours of fun in one of the worlds inspired by the history of medieval Japan.