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Video Game / Way of the Samurai 4

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The fourth entry of the Way of the Samurai video game series. This game was first released in Japan for the PlayStation 3 on March 3, 2011. A US and European release followed on 21 August and 5 October 2012 respectively. This game is also notable for being the first in the series to receive a PC port, which was released in 2015.

The game takes place in the fictional port town of Amihama, just after the arrival of the Black Ships, signaling the start of the Meiji Restoration. Amihama currently goes trough a time of great strife, as three factions try to gain supremacy:

  • The British, trying to push through many modern reforms as they possibly can.
  • The Prajna nationalists, who despise the British and the change brought on by them.
  • The Japanese government, who try to bring order in these ever changing times.

The game begins with a skirmish between these three factions, while a nameless Ronin just arrives by boat, and somehow gets involved in this fight. After the fighting ends, the Ronin has the ability to join one of the three major factions and help the chosen faction with their task, while the story unfolds, based on the choices the player makes. Or the Ronin can just muck about, without involving himself with any of the major factions.


Way of the Samurai 4 contains examples of:

  • Ability Depletion Penalty: This game does away with weapon-specific heat meters but adds the stamina meter, which depletes as the player performs their attacks. If the meter ends up completely empty, their attacks will become sluggish, their health will not regenerate, and they are automatically arrested when caught committing a crime. Enemies have their own visible stamina meters. Depleting an enemy's stamina can be helpful in weakening them, or even sparing them if the player wants to be merciful, which is sometimes required for sidequests and opening a couple plot branches.
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: Despite Melinda's tough-as-nails image (and she is really tough), defeating her nonlethally at least four times unlocks her for Night Crawling.
  • Alliterative Name: The foreigners are named Laura Lita, Jet Jenkins, and Melinda Megamelons.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Blondie Soldiers is an all-female knight squad fully clad in armor. This being Way of The Samurai though, they're not any more competent than your run-of-the-mill samurai, despite the armor.
  • Animal Athlete Loophole: Played with by one participant in the battle tournament, who brings his dog with him. The rules say any weapons are allowed, and he classifies the dog as one of his weapons.
  • Anyone Can Die: Every named main character you meet in this game will die at least once during the multiple story paths. Not even the player himself is immune to this trope.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Beating the game gives you 'Samurai Points', depending on how noble you have acted. You can spend these points on new outfits, haircuts and even the faces of other characters, essentially allowing you to look like other NPCs. However, this trope is subverted, as other unlockables include new game difficulties and new abilities, such as dual wielding and the use of guns.
  • Anachronism Stew: Completely played for laughs in regards of some of the wearable accessories. A very notable anachronism are modern looking sunglasses. The game pokes fun at this by saying it might become popular after many years.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: You no longer have to return to the quest giver to obtain a reward; after doing the mission you are just given the mon.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: This game has several examples of weapons or techniques looking very awesome, but are just too cumbersome to successfully utilize. A few examples:
    • Some techniques do have cool animations and do pack quite a punch, but take too much time to prepare, while the opponent can easily interrupt them. An example is a Flash Step technique found in the Iai Kasshin school.
    • Firearms are this. While it feels good to just shoot enemies from afar, with them unable to even attempt to hit you, they are generally weaker compared to swords and very fragile, breaking after just a few uses. This can be remedied by using Blade Oil or a certain upgrade that makes the weapon unbreakable. However, most sword schools feature techniques that can instantly kill or at least take away large amounts of health, which is something firearm schools lack, making guns a very impractical option compared to swords.
    • Kinugawa Swordfighting has two supernatural looking techniques. One looks like toxic breath, while the other looks like the user is tapping into the dark side of the force. The biggest problem of these is that they do very little damage.
  • Artistic License – Military: Besides the United Kingdom never having an elite, all-female group of knights, the Royal Marines' uniforms are completely wrongnote . Also, they have no idea how to fight, though that's mainly to justify why they don't just form ranks and gun down their opponents. No explanation for why they don't have bayonets, or know how to use their guns as clubs.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: The last step of the Nightcrawling mini-game involves either throwing the woman you want on a bed or hitting them until their clothes come off. Additionally some characters like Sensei or Melinda require you to defeat them in sword fight before they will even give you a chance.
  • Big, Stupid Doodoo-Head: If you fight Kotobuki at the beginning of the game, and then challenge him again after siding with Prajna, you can throw childish insults at him and his crew. Kotobuki, of course, isn't amused, and will happily call you an idiot right back.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The anti-foreign rebels are just trying to protect their nation's sovereignty, while the British diplomats are simply trying to establish peaceful relations with Japan. The Chief Minister and his daughters, however, are about eleven types of crazy.
  • Boss Rush: The start of the hidden path is this. If you managed to initiate the requirements of the hidden path, you will fight in this order: Akagi, Melinda, Kotobuki and the three Kinugawa sisters. What makes it difficult, is that you probably do not have access to healing items, as this fight takes place at the start of the game. The only healing items you might have are dropped by Prajna members fought during the tutorial fight.
  • Boss Subtitles: Whenever a main character appears for the first time, the game introduces them with this trope.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Getting the Golden Ending on the highest difficulty, will give you Hihiirokane. This piece of ore will give you one free upgrade for your weapon. However, this reward can be considered useless, as you probably already upgraded your weapon to the max to beat the game on the highest difficulty.
  • Camp Gay: One of the contestants of the tournament is this. If you join the tournament under the banner of the British, one or your opponents is a brutish looking muscled man, who scowls at you meanly, suggesting this will be a serious opponent...until he starts talking, with an effeminate voice and gestures. He even makes it clear he had his eyes on your from the start.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Yakuza are this very much. When following their sidequests, your questgiver will frequently mention how Evil his organization is. Kinugawa only plays this trope when he is absolutely sure he is winning. Otherwise he plays the Well-Intentioned Extremist card, saying his evil deeds are a necessary evil to restore public order.
  • City Guards: Constables and thief-takers fill this role. Committing a crime will result in them blowing a whistle and attempting to arrest you unless you antagonize thugs, Yakuza, or underlings, to which the constables/thief-takers will just stand by and let you do your thing (strangely the guards will still try to arrest you if they see you loot from the thugs', Yakuza, and/or underlings' corpses). If they succeed, you will be brought to the dungeon run by the torture happy Kinugawa sisters. The thief-takers are replaced with the Demonscale samurai later on, much to the former's frustration. This can prove annoying if you're trying to get new recruits for your dojo as randomly beating them (in reverse-mode only) is the only way to have them take a knee and surrender if they're willing enough and you're allowed three chances to try to have them accept your offer (otherwise they'll just run away), and yet at the same time you have to watch out for the patrolling constables/thief-takers/Demonscales.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: If you get arrested, and you don't pay one of the Three Sisters 1,000 funds to let you go (which sister visits you is determined by how low, average, or high the crime rate is), then the sister will subject you to a torture mini-game. What form the torture takes is different depending on which sister is subjecting you to it, and it has been placed in a spoiler to avoid causing discomfort, just in case: Yuri (youngest sister) uses a horse contraption; Chika (middle sister) uses rocks; and Mayu (oldest sister) uses a waterwheel. However, if you want to "Night Crawl" one of the three sisters, you have to endure the same sister's torture 3 times and get a high score the third and final time.
  • Cool Mask: The Black Masks wear silver colored masks that cover their entire face, except for their eyes and mouth. Madara also wears a cool mask, but hers is a white ellipse with black symbols that completely covers her face. One wonders how she can see through that thing...
  • Cutscene Incompetence: If you played the fight out, the battle in the Fevered Spirits ending would be easily winnable by the player, but instead Kinugawa and the firearm-equipped Demonscales massacre you and the Prajnas. It's especially egregious as you just wiped out the equally-armed Royal Marines.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Firearms suffer from this. Enemies wielding them are among the weakest in game, as their shots inflict very little damage. But whenever a firearm is used in a cutscene, you can expect the target to be at least heavily injured or even killed.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: In the DLC, Sayo appears and is trained in sword use, which makes only one possible ending for the 2nd game canon. Then again, it is DLC that already features Dona Dona 20 years before the first game, so the canon is up to debate.
  • Dark Is Evil: Chief Minister Onsen Kinugawa and his daughters are all dressed in dark colors and the only truly evil characters in this game. Averted with Moro and Kogure, who, despite being dressed in dark brown and dark blue respectively, are quite likable. In fact, Moro is one of the most likable characters in the game.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: In the Golden Ending, Kinugawa somehow survives being boiled alive in his own trap, getting little more than a Hades Shaded-via-scalding appearance at worst.
  • Dine and Dash: You have the option to do this after eating a meal at a restaurant or food stand by not paying the bill; doing so is considered a crime and will cause the owner to call for the guards to arrest you.
  • The Dragon: At least one for each faction. You can more or less become Co-Dragons with them, should you join said faction.
    • Melinda Megamelons for the British.
    • Jinrai Kogure for the Prajnas
    • Hikaru Kotobuki and the Kinugawa sisters for the Shogunate.
  • Enemy Mine: You can unite the Yakuza and a squad or former Vigilante heroes against an army of foreign invaders.
  • Evil Counterpart: More like Counterpart With Hair-Trigger Temper; You can encounter your own player character from previous playthroughs during New Game+. These clones look like you and also use the same fighting style as you. They simply walk around, but simply bumping into them will result in them picking a fight to the death with you.
  • For Want of a Nail: The hidden story path can be seen as this. The normal paths always start the same: Akagi and the Prajnas attempt to kidnap Laura, while Kotobuki tries to interfere, with the player deciding which side to take. This happens while two Prajnas fire a cannon at the foreigner's ship, delaying the Kinugawa sisters from reaching the shore. However, killing the cannoneers allows the sisters to safely reach shore, where they insist in taking part in the action, during which they are promptly beaten by the player character. This pisses them off so much, that they call their father to exact vengeance, causing him to appear much earlier than in the regular paths. And really pissed someone dared to publicly humiliate his daughters, causing him to take more drastic measures than in the original story paths.
  • Funny Foreigner: The randomly generated British Non Player Characters fill this role. Once you acquire the language school, you can converse with them. They frequently utter grammatically incorrect lines as 'I study Japanspeak. Japanspeak is fun!'. Special mention goes to Count J.J. in the hidden path, who suddenly gets an obsession with sushi.
  • Guide Dang It!
    • To get to certain endings, especially the hidden Golden Ending, you need to do oddly specific things, which are kind of hard to stumble upon without a guide.
    • Successfully nightcrawling Laura is a very obtuse process. If the player goes straight in when the opportunity arises, they’ll end encountering a fake. Getting the chance to find the real Laura has extra steps, including saving to a different save slot from the player’s current one, from a specific save point that’s only vaguely connected to the whole scenario.
  • Guns vs. Swords: Zigzagged. Gameplay seems to favor the sword a lot more, as swords are more durable and have more devastating techniques. But in cutscenes, whenever someone wields a gun, expect another character to be heavily injured or even killed.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: The Black Masks. If you decide to give up in the battle tournament, these guys will will appear at night to try and kill you. Luckily, they simply run toward you in the open, while releasing a very loud yell, so you can easily spot them coming for you. In a story-related encounter with them, happening at daylight, you can even lampshade their visibility to them in dialogue, to which they reply day and night make no difference to them.
  • Hot Coffee Minigame: Night Crawling missions entail setting up a rendezvous with a woman (including unique female NPCs such as Melinda and Sensei, though getting them for Night Crawling is a tad more involved), going to their home at night, sneaking through their house, finding them, taking them to the inn, then "fighting" them. Succeed, and as the game says, it's "sexy time".
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: In addition to being able to equip up to three weapons, your character is able to carry ten extra weapons in his inventory. Even if these weapons fall under the BFS category.
  • Illegal Gambling Den: There is a Yakuza-run gambling den in the outskirts of Amihama, where the nameless ronin can play Koi-Koi at night. The place also offers free sake to those who take the sidequests that the gambling den mistress issues.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Minister Kinugawa kills the winners of his tournament by boiling them alive. He is later seen (provided you didn't die with the other winners) on the tournament grounds enjoying a stew with his daughters.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: Almost averted. Kinugawa's Ogre Isle revolver is clearly based on British Empire Webley or Enfield revolver. Seeing that the very first models were made in 1880, it is about 20 years away from it being introduced in the army, much less in the private collection of a Japanese Chief Minister. Then again, the period is close enough and both revolvers are seen as the symbol of the waning Empire up until World War 1, so the choice may have been intentional.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Instead of finding the ultimate uberweapon on an optional boss, you have to craft it yourself at the blacksmith. First you have to find a combination of the right parts and assemble these so the sword gets a special ability. Then, you need to upgrade its damage and durability to the maximal amounts. And to really make it the ultimate weapon, you need to break and repair it ridiculous amounts of times so it can acquire the "Unbreakable" perk, meaning its durability will never decrease.
  • Jidaigeki: Set just before the end of the age of the samurai.
  • Joke Item: One of the available weapons in this game is a fish, which you can find right outside the sushi shop at the harbor. Its stats are comparable to the lowest tier of swords and it can only be upgraded about 4 times before having to spend precious minerals at it. However, should you decide to spend minerals on upgrading the fish, you are perfectly able to upgrade both its damage and durability to the max, turning it into a Lethal Joke Item.
  • Kaizo Trap: At the end of a torture minigame, the cutscene may show the sister slapping you multiple times. If your health was low at the end of the minigame, this can actually kill you. It’s never mentioned in-game, but you’re supposed to press the brace button mid-cutscene in order to survive this.
  • Karma Houdini: Chief Minister Onsen Kinugawa in most endings, as he either gets away with his evil deeds, with the player unable to fight back or manages to kill the player character. The whole point of the game is finding the golden ending, in which the man gets what he deserves.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Subverted. While katanas are the most common type of sword found in this game, their strength is about equal compared to the few western swords wielded by British characters.
  • Magikarp Power: Guns are subject to this trope. Compared to swords, guns are very weak and fragile. A gun with fully upgraded durability is barely able to kill just a few enemies before breaking down. However, if you use Blade Oil, which prevents weapons from breaking for five minutes, which in the case of a gun, translates to five minutes of undisturbed shooting. If you manage to keep your distance, you can easily kill most enemies before they land one hit on you.
  • Mini-Game: This game features multiple types of minigames, including:
    • A Fishing Minigame
    • Two Betting Minigames in the form of poker and hanafuda.
    • And three minigames that feature the player character being tortured by one of the three Kinugawa sisters. These games come up when you are arrested by the City Guards and refuse to pay bail money. If you manage to win/survive the game, you will be released from prison. You also need to do all three minigames in a row to advance in the hidden story path.
  • Mooks: Each major faction has their own set of them. Sometimes more than one.
    • British: British Marines and Blondie Knights.
    • Prajna: Prajna Members
    • Shogunate: Constables and later Demonscales.
      • They also have some Elite Mooks in the form of the Black Masks.
  • Mook Chivalry: The combat system invokes this trope. When you are attacked by more than one enemy, one of them is highlighted as your opponent. This is the only one who attacks you and whom your attacks are aimed at, while the rest just dances around you and the opponent. When you kill that one, one of the others will take its place. However, not only nameless Mooks are subject to this trope, as named boss characters also obey these rules.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • Ambiguous Ending: Some of the endings explicitly say it is unknown what happened to the nameless ronin afterwards.
    • Bittersweet Ending: Some of the default endings qualify. Notable examples include setting sail to Britain with Laura just after J.J. is killed, becoming Moro's adviser after he becomes a British Royalty, due to being considered a traitor by his own government.
    • Downer Ending: Some of the endings are downright depressing. like getting gunned down like a wild animal by the Japanese government when siding with the Prajna's or being boiled alive for the cruel chief ministers amusement.
    • Golden Ending: Which is rather hard to find without a guide. During this ending the ronin manages to unite all factions against the cruel and corrupt Chief Minister Kinugawa. The story ends with Kinugawa defeated and the three factions finally making peace. And while this looks like a Bitter Sweet Ending at first, as the protagonist seems to have died, he is shown to have survived in a post credits scene, making this a true happy ending.
    • No Ending: Asking the boatman at the harbor to help you leave Amihama will result in this. The game just ends, without any resolution whatsoever. This can be a handy feature if you screwed something up and want to start anew. Giving up in the tournament forces you to take this ending, as further story development is disabled.
  • New Game+: This is not just an option, but more or less the entire point of the game, as their are multiple story paths and extras to explore. In fact, to get to the Golden Ending, one must do multiple playthroughs to set things up for getting said ending, as some decisions get carried over from previous playthroughs.
  • No-Gear Level: This game has two instances of this trope:
    • In the path to the Golden Ending, the player character gets captured by Chief Minister Kinugawa and left to the torture happy Kinugawa sisters. After surviving three torture minigames, you have to fight all three sisters...unarmed and without your inventory. Fortunately, you can find some healing items in the room and will receive assistance from two other characters in the course of the battle.
    • There is a rather obscure story path you can take in the beginning which results in you losing your gear. In this case, Dojima must not be the blacksmith and you must give up the tutorial fight against the Prajnas. They then leave your character Chained to a Railway, after which Dojima shows up and saves him. Unfortunately, he decides he will take your weapons as payment for saving your life, resulting in having no gear. If you started a New Game+, you might have some weapons in storage. If not, it's very much this trope.
  • Obviously Evil: Chief Minister Onsen Kinugawa is dressed in a black and grey kimono, featuring spikes and skull shaped ornaments and is the most terrible person in the game. Even more so after he survives his own boiling water in the Golden Ending: The resulting scalding causes him to now be Hades Shaded and resemble the likes of Ansem, Seeker of Darkness and Xemnas.
  • Parallel Conflict Sequence: During the first fight with Kinugawa in the Golden Ending, one can see the player’s allies fighting Kinugawa’s demonscales in the background.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Sometimes you only have seconds to loot a dead enemy before the cutscene kicks in. If you are unable to get the goods, you are forced to replay the game to that moment again. Fortunately, there is New Game+ and the game isn't that long.
  • Power Copying: Sometimes, dead enemies drop their fighting style in the form of a manual. This means you can copy the fighting style of a dead enemy. However, you still need to train yourself in fully mastering said styles.
  • Schrodingers Cat: In the neutral “As A Demonscale” ending, the battle tournament was a completely sincere search for people to serve as Kinugawa’s elite fighters. In any other route, it’s a trap that Kinugawa set up to kill a bunch of people horribly, just For the Evulz.
  • Set Swords to "Stun": You can turn the swords to "reverse-mode" which makes them use the blunt side of the weapon. Doing so depletes the vitality of the opponent, rather than life. Most opponents with depleted vitality either kneel before you, or run away. This option can be used to beat Non Player Characters into submission, allowing you to recruit them for your dojo. Also, some missions require you to defeat the opponent non-lethally, rather than outright killing them. However, since the animations remain the same, you character can be seen impaling the opponent, which strangely enough still counts as a blunt attack. Another strange thing related to this, is that you can also set firearms to reverse-mode.
  • Shamu Fu: The aforementioned weaponizable fish. See the entry for Joke Item on this page for more information.
  • Shoplift and Die: Like the Dine and Dash example above, attempting to obtain an item from the shop owner without paying the bill will cause them to scream for the guards in an attempt to have you arrested and sent to the Kinugawa sisters' torture chamber. In Dojima's case, he will rather attack you rather than summon the guards if you don't pay for his services.
  • Sidequest: This game features four questlines of sidequests. Completing these will allow you to do a hidden fifth sidequest, which, depending on your choices, will either result in a gang war between the heads of the local Yakuza and a squad of vigilante heroes, or both factions teaming up against an army of foreign invaders, led by a cowboy. You can also receive many sidequests at random by speaking to generic NPCs.
  • Stewed Alive: Minister Kinugawa does this to the Tournament winners. However, this is averted in the independent Demonscale ending.
  • Title Drop: Parodied in one sidequest, where a suspicious ronin might comment that you’re dedicated to the way of the samurai, before adding a “four” in brackets, and then another set of brackets, containing a “ha”.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: When fighting against main characters during the multiple story paths, many of them decide to flee when they lost the fight. Though in most cases, many of the characters you fight aren't true villains, merely antagonists in the particular paths you chose. Played straight with the Kinugawa sisters, who are truly vile. Melinda is the only main character fought by the player to subvert this trope. The first time you fight her in each of the story paths will end in you killing her, unless you decide to hit her with the blunt side of your weapon, in which case she will play this trope straight.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Prajna's can be seen as this. They fear that the British try to take over Japan with their foreign ways. In their eyes, they are defending Japan from a foreign threat, while other people see them as nothing more than xenophobic terrorists. The Big Bad Kinugawa tries to portray himself as this, saying the cruelty he inflicts is to restore public order and peace in the city. In truth, he is an enormous sadist, who simply likes to inflict misery upon other people.
  • A Winner Is You: The "As A Demonscale" ending is for players who win the game but completely miss the plot, and comes with a bland "the samurai joined the Demonscales and served the Shogunate with honor" blurb that has absolutely nothing to do with the game proper.
  • Zerg Rush: Almost every faction in the game likes to throw large amounts of minions against you. To name a particularly ridiculous example: When you try to prevent a small group of constables from evicting the homeless from their preferred residence, the leader of the constables seemingly summons every constable in the city against you. Just because you tried to protect a bunch of homeless people.