Get­ting ev­ery­thing I bar­gained for in Way of the Sam urai 4


My name’s Phil, and I have a con­fes­sion: I love janky games. It’s why I’ve spent days in the buggy sand­boxes of Bethesda’s El­der Scrolls se­ries. It’s why I once spent an af­ter­noon hunt­ing fly­ing jaguars in an un­patched ver­sion of Boil­ing Point. It’s why I’ll al­ways have a fond­ness for a par­tic­u­lar type of Ja­panese game that com­bines quirky writ­ing and a heap of sys­temic jank to cre­ate some­thing en­ter­tain­ing. The best of th­ese is Sega’s ex­cel­lent Yakuza se­ries, but they’re not on PC, so I’m play­ing Way of the Samu­rai 4 in­stead. I’m not ex­pect­ing it to be good—Andy’s re­view of the PC port, re­leased in 2015, warns that it’s “fun­da­men­tally a bit rub­bish”. But as long as it’s en­ter­tain­ingly rub­bish, I’ll con­sider my evening a suc­cess.

Set in 19th cen­tury Ja­pan, the story opens with an at­tempted trade deal be­tween the Bri­tish and the port town of Ami­hama. A fac­tion of tra­di­tion­al­ists ar­rives to op­pose the for­eign­ers and fight­ing breaks out on the streets. My name­less samu­rai, a new ar­rival in Ami­hama, is dragged into the con­flict. For a sec­ond I worry that Way of the Samu­rai 4 might be play­ing things straight.

And then I’m in­tro­duced to the com­man­der of the Bri­tish forces. She’s a com­pe­tent war­rior, un­der­mined only by the fact that her name is Melinda Megamel­ons. Ian Fleming would be proud.

Even­tu­ally I’m let loose on the town. I find a thief cas­ing a nearby house, and he of­fers me a job steal­ing from a geisha by bump­ing into her when she’s not look­ing. This is the sort of bull­shit minigame that I was

I buy some noo­dles, and am de­lighted by the op­tion to refuse pay­ment

hop­ing for, and I ea­gerly ac­cept. I find the geisha, and won­der how the game will tele­graph the mo­ment to steal her stash. It answers with some pop-up text, read­ing, “Hint: Now.”

I ab­scond with the trea­sure and re­turn to the thief. He sets me a more dif­fi­cult task: Steal­ing from sumo wrestlers. I ar­rive at the lo­ca­tion late at night. The wrestlers are nowhere to be seen. Find­ing a bed roll nearby, I sleep un­til the next day.

the chee k of it

When I wake up, I’m sur­rounded by an­gry men in cloth nap­pies. Bingo. I grab their stash and run, but they give chase—pre­vent­ing me from leav­ing the area. I turn to face them. It’s a dif­fi­cult fight. I have few restora­tive items, and no spare weapons. My blade breaks. I slash at a cou­ple of guys with the hilt of my sword, but they beat me to death.

I reload and ex­plore the town in­stead. I buy some noo­dles, and am de­lighted by the op­tion to refuse pay­ment. I do, just to see what will hap­pen. Pre­dictably, I’m at­tacked. I’m more con­fi­dent in a one-on-one fight, but the se­cu­rity guy is the tough­est op­po­nent I’ve yet faced. He con­nects with a mas­sive combo of at­tacks that wipes out my health bar. I die, again. A ratings screen de­clares me ‘Good For Noth­ing’. I can’t help but agree.

De­spite my fail­ures, I’m happy. WOTS 4 is as bizarre, shoddy, and sur­pris­ing as I’d hoped. It may not be good, but it is good for some­thing.

Im­me­di­ately turned to a life of stupid crime. P H I L S AVAG E THIS MONTH ALSO PLAYED RezIn­fi­nite, Pyre

Why do there have to be con­se­quences for my ac­tions?

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