The Way of the Samurai is apparently to be confused, frustrated, and more than a little lost, at least if this game is right about it. The game has you as a wounded samurai who is rescued, and you are given the choice to really follow your own path. Each time you die the game ends, but you get to carry over items, some weapons, and any upgrades you’ve purchased to your next game. This allows you a lot of freedom within the context of the game to grow, seek out different paths, and find how you want to play. The problem is the game is so small that unlimited freedom in it means almost nothing. There are exactly two factions in the game, 8 or so main characters, and roughly 7 areas. Every single path will have you interacting with those same characters over and over and over, with limited, or even no change.
There is also no guidelines in the game at all. It seems like this was implemented to further the freedom, the reality though is that you will get lost, stuck, and in a cycle of doing the same things without any progress. There are over 20 different endings which is pretty amazing, but they each only take a few hours to get, and you have to be very specific about the order you do things. Go to one area out of order (and again you have no guidelines to help you) and you’ll be locked out of certain endings. So the harsh truth is the game becomes repetitive trial and error.
The basic idea of the game is rather clever. Death meaning a game over so your character keeps developing and growing is kind of interesting. The number of endings, is great. The problem is the game is so small, limited, directionless, that it just becomes tedious as opposed to enjoyable. I found myself struggling to unlock more endings instead of enjoying and embracing the new things in the world. I wanted so badly to enjoy the game and it did have its moments. Truly there is a lot of potential it just didn’t execute entirely.