The upcoming release of Ghost of Tsushima has us thinking about samurai games. To be more specific, it has us thinking about how there actually aren’t a ton of great samurai games out there. In fact, Ghost of Tsushima has a great shot at being the best samurai-themed video game ever made.
Still, that doesn’t mean that samurai fans are completely out of options. From fighting games to trippy RPGs, the best samurai games out there not only offer something special in their own right but will surely get you hyped for what could prove to be the PS4’s last great exclusive experience.
Samurai Showdown (Franchise)
The truth of the matter is that the Samurai Shodown series has endured some ups and downs over the years. However, most entries in this franchise still rank amongst the best samurai games ever.
The Samurai Showdown series is infamous for its wide variety of samurai characters and classic fighting game mechanics. Many also feel that the retro Samurai Showdown games happen to feature the best 2D backgrounds in the history of the genre.
In case you’re curious, many fans consider Samurai Showdown 2 to be the best entry in the series, so we’d recommend starting there if you’ve never played one.
Total War: Shogun 2
The infamous Total War strategy franchise started in the samurai era, but it’s this 2011 sequel that is truly one of the best samurai games ever.
Not only does Shogun 2 refine and nearly perfect most Total War elements, but it captures a unique era of warfare in stunning detail.
It may not be the kind of pure samurai game you’re looking for, but few games utilize samurai quite as well as this one.
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
Here we have another samurai strategy game, but Blades of the Shogun is an entirely different experience from Shogun 2.
This incredible tactical strategy series requires you to maneuver various samurai across a series of dangerous missions. It’s comparable to the Commandos and Desperados series, but even those franchises rarely featured the gameplay and visual design excellence seen here.
If you’re a strategy fan and you haven’t played this game, you owe it to yourself to do so.
While many hoped for the best when they heard that Team Ninja was making a Soulslike game, there was still some fear that the studio behind Ninja Gaiden was just chasing trends.
Instead, Nioh proved to be one of the best Soulslike experiences on the market. Excellent gameplay aside, we love Nioh for its over-the-top enemy designs and mythology, which make us feel like we’re playing a particularly good anime samurai game.
True, Bushido Blade doesn’t solely feature samurai, but how can we not talk about one of the most unique fighting games ever?
Bushido Blade lives in infamy for its “realistic” fighting mechanics. Because every character wielded a deadly weapon, it was actually possible to defeat your opponent with a single, well-timed blow.
Fans have begged for this franchise to return over the years, and we’d certainly like to join the call for a revival.
The Onimusha Trilogy
Here again, we have another series that we have to talk about as a whole rather than just focusing on one entry.
Capcom’s Onimusha trilogy started as a kind of samurai spin-off of the Resident Evil series, but as it evolved, it began to more closely resemble the Devil May Cry franchise.
In all of its forms, the Onimusha series featured unique environments, fun storytelling, and a willingness to experiment with different concepts. It’s been away for too long, and there is sadly little hope it will return.
Way of the Samurai 4
The fascinating Way of the Samurai series has long tried to capture the feeling of being a wandering samurai. They’re utterly bizarre and often fail to achieve some lofty goals, but you’ve got to give them points for originality.
Way of the Samurai 4 is arguably the best game in this strange series. It explores the idea of how much power a wandering warrior has in a violent world, and it’s often just a lot of fun to play even when its gameplay is kind of annoying.
Check this one out if you’re looking for something truly different and a more complete samurai role-playing experience.
If you’re a fan of local multiplayer games and you haven’t tried to play Samurai Gunn, you’re missing out on something kind of special.
This fast-paced competitive title forces you to use your sword, a dash, and a gun with just three bullets to defeat your opponents. It will certainly appeal to fans of the Towerfall series, but anyone who is just looking for a competitive game that does things a bit differently will surely find a lot to love with this one.