Sharpen your sword and straighten your straw hat; it’s time to take a look at the 10 best samurai games of all time!
The samurai were the most honourable and fiercest of warriors. They didn’t back down, they never surrendered, and they struck fear into the hearts of their enemies.
Unless they were fighting against other samurai, then you’ve pretty much got a stalemate on your hands!
The following 10 games are steeped in tradition, revenge, betrayal, and honour. They encapsulate everything that the samurai stood for and bring tense gameplay right into the heart of your living room.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s crack on and check out the first game in our list!
10. Way Of The Samurai (2002)
Let’s kick things off with Way of the Samurai, an epic story about the the dying tradition of the samurai that follows these warriors as they pass into obscurity.
Feudal Japan is on the brink, and one Samurai could be the key to bringing everything back to normal once again.
I say could very lightly as there’s a lot that could go wrong (mainly death) at any time. And with everyone wanting to both fight and deceive you at every stage, you’re going to have your work cut out for you!
Fight multiple players at the same time (something you should all be used to after The Crossed Wands Duelling Club in Hogwarts Legacy), utilise different stances, and upgrade your sword.
Oh yes, there’s lots of sword upgrading to be had in the different blades you’ll find in Way of the Samurai. Increase defence, sharpness, number of hit points, and how long each sword lasts before shattering.
9. Samurai Warriors 4 (2014)
Feudal Japan is going to be the basis of pretty much all the following games, so buckle up and get used to it. We’re following the eventual battle between Japans Western and Eastern armies in Samurai Warriors 4, and the action is brutal from start to finish.
The focus in this game is much more fighting based as opposed to all of the storyline elements in a game such as Ghost Of Tsushima. In fact, imagine all of the Mongol skirmishes put together in a sort of Hyrule Warriors style game, and you’ll get the general feel.
Regular players to the series will enjoy the addition of Rage Mode (essentially making the character invulnerable for a short time), and Hyper Attacks that clear a field faster than I can clear a plate of pasta.
Your mission is to take down enemy generals in each stage, and you’ll follow different clans as you move through the game, learning a little about the political struggles of the era at the same time.
Oh, and you can create your own warriors too. So that’s at least 3 hours of gameplay accounted for there then while we pick the most fearsome nose for our fighters!
8. For Honor (2017)
For Honor takes the 8th spot in this list of the best samurai games of all time, bringing the plight of the honourable samurai right into your games room.
While you can play as a knight, a Viking, or a Wu Lin warrior, it’s always best playing this game as a Samurai. I mean, they look so cool and have humongous swords – they’re going to win every single time, surely!
This is a game where you always have to keep your wits about you – one false move or a glance to see what your dog is doing is going to leave you without a head… or an arm, or leg.
Players can’t rely on button mashing in For Honor. When your Samurai goes head to head with an opponent in ‘The Art Of Battle’, then you’ll need to react on the fly and learn how your opponent moves, otherwise you’ll be dead in an instant.
And, as you can see from the still above, The Art Of Battle means other fighters will form a ring around you and stop you from leaving, so only one person can come out victorious!
7. Nioh 2 (2020)
Nioh 2 sees us heading back to (you guessed it) feudal Japan. Though this time, demons and evil spirits are joining the fray instead of other Samurai.
Sounds like you’ve got your work cut out for you in this one!
While the addition of entities from the Dark Realm is obviously factually incorrect, it adds a tough of ‘Gauntlet: Dark Legacy’ to this hack and slash RPG. As a Shiftling called Hide wielding mysterious powers, you must destroy the opposition in the most brutal way possible.
Sounds like a job for us!
As this is an RPG title, you’ll earn points and upgrade your skills as you move through the game. Picking up items called Soul Cores (which are like the adult version of Mumbo Jumbo tokens), allow you to use amazing abilities once purified too.
If you like games like Dark Souls, then you’ll love the feel of Nioh 2. It’s just as tough as some of the moments in the Souls series too, so expect lots of controller-breaking difficulties and hair-tearing gameplay throughout.
It can be a little tough to keep track of all the different elements in play at times, especially when the action is in full swing. But, with time, you’ll get to grips with it surely enough and be using those Burst Counters to knock back enemies like there’s no tomorrow.
6. Trek To Yomi (2022)
Trek To Yomi could well be one of the best looking titles in our best samurai games list, with the exception of the title in 1st place, of course.
The whole thing feels like an old movie, almost like if samurai warriors starred in a Film Noir epic from the 40s, and even though it’s a short game lasting around 5 – 10 hours depending on how much you want to complete, it’s a beautifully made title that really impresses me every time I play it.
The attention to detail here is phenomenal too. Everything is spot on in terms of accuracy and links back to historic Japan, calling upon museum displays and even making a soundtrack using instruments native to the time period.
If you’re looking for a title that really captures the feel of feudal Japan, the uncertainty and hope of new beginnings, then this is it!
5. Samurai Shodown (1993)
Samurai Shodown wipes the floor with Super Street Fighter in my opinion. I know it’s a tough statement to make, but I’m saying it and sticking with it.
Don’t get me wrong; I love Dhalsim’s extendable arms and Blanka’s electrify attack, but when you can use samurai blades against massive enemies like the lad below, then it makes for a much more exciting game!
There’s a reason it’s been called the mother of all fighting games, after all!
Unlike Super Street Fighter, you can’t just win by button mashing either. You really have to land blows in the right place at the right time, carefully thinking about how you’re going to attack.
In other words, it’s like Mortal Kombat 11 but back in 1993.
Plus, you can regain health as you play by eating fried chicken, giving you more of a chance against big players like the guy above. Honestly, falling food is my idea of heaven, so I’m all for this!
4. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)
Just wait till you see the graphics in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, winner of the best action game award and created in conjunction with the genius minds who made Dark Souls.
I mean, it already sounds like a winner, and there’s still 3 more games to drop in this list of the best samurai games.
I’m a huge fan of The One Armed Wolf, the character you play as while working through this stunning game. He’s a character that is not only overcoming adversity as being a fighter with only one arm, but one that must destroy some insanely tough villains along the way.
Trust me, having a prosthetic limb that can be a flamethrower, a sword, or an axe is definitely not a weakness. If anything I would love to take my arm off and fit it with a scythe, or more likely a whisk with all the cooking I end up doing.
Add in some samurai-esque swordplay and some insanely acrobatic jumps, and players will find this amazing game incredibly hard to put down!
3. Bushido Blade (1997)
Bushido Blade takes the 3rd spot in our compendium of the best samurai games of all time!
See that name on the title too – it’s got the SquareSoft seal, which means that it’s been crafted by some of the finest minds in the world of gaming.
Call it an award of awesomeness if you want, because that’s what we refer to it as!
And the best thing about a game that uses swords is that a round can really be over in one hit. Honestly, if you time a blow right, your opponent will be dead in the water… or on the snow if we’re looking at the still below.
If you and a friend have played this game for a long time and know what you’re doing however, then a single match can last for a heck of a long time. It makes that shower of blood all the more exciting when you finally make the killing strike, however.
You can, if you’re incredibly sadistic, make your opponents bleed out over time and become less active as the fight goes on. My mum always told me not to play with my food, but you can really toy with your enemies in Bushido Blade.
I usually try to do this to Brandon’s character after we’ve had a Retro Dodo meeting that hasn’t quite gone my way.
2. Genji: Dawn of the Samurai (2005)
It’s time for a tale of revenging and avenging in Genji: Dawn of the Samurai!
Sometimes, even when you’ve taken yourself off to the mountains for a quiet life, you’ve just got to head back don into civilisation to kill a bunch of cretins and seek revenge for your fallen father.
If you like the hack and slash gameplay of the Hyrule Warriors games (or indeed the Dynasty Warriors games on which they are based), then step right up. It’s a samurai sword fest with two different characters that provide two different methods of play.
If you play as Yoshitsune, you can jump and move around quickly, landing on small areas that would break under heavier characters. Use swords to reach higher platforms and double jump before landing and slaying your enemies.
Of course, if that all sounds a bit too fancy and aerial for your liking, then just use Benkei. He has a big club and just smashes everything. Problem solved.
You’re fighting against a clan that have a tonne of magical stones at their disposal, and you have just one each for your two characters. It’s going to be tough, though I suppose it always is when otherwordly powers are at large, but with super-fast-slicing action and a big dude that likes breaking stuff, you’ll be fine.
1. Ghost Of Tsushima (2020)
When it comes to the best samurai games, Ghost of Tsushima is the best samurai game ever made. It’s stunning from start to finish and is one of the most beautifully made games I’ve ever seen.
Everything from the soundtrack to the whistling wind give me chills. Just look at the graphics in the still below, for crying out loud! It’s utter perfection!
Following foxes to reach shrines, chasing birds to secret areas, slaying Mongol leaders using Ghost techniques while dressed like the most badass samurai of all time. What’s not to love?
The storyline is incredibly deep too, and the tale of Jin Sakai fighting against the roots of honour and tradition in order to save his world is one that will definitely be hard to beat.
There’s a one-hit-kill mode for the Bushido Blade fans, and a black and white traditional mode that, while more detailed than Trek to Yumi, has that authentic old Japanese movie vibe to it.
Filled with culture, history, and RPG elements that allow you to improve Jin’s skill tree and turn him into the ultimate warrior, Ghost of Tsushima continually tops lists here at Retro Dodo. If you haven’t played it, then stop whatever you’re doing and start throwing Smoke Bombs and Wind Chimes ASAP!
Yes, Ghost of Tsushima is the worthy winner of our best samurai games list, and I seriously think it’s going to take some beating to knock it off the top slot!
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.