The best Samurai games immerse the gamer in worlds that transport them into the lives of deadly martial artists who use their skills for both good and evil. We love these games because they feature amazing storylines, some of the best fighting you’ll find in video games, and just a cool factor that goes beyond many other genres.
We’ll be taking a look into each game’s story, gameplay mechanics, and controls in an attempt to explain why we consider them to be the best Samuari games on the market.
We’ve taken the opinions of samurai gaming enthusiasts and the general consensus of the community into account as well.
And before you come after me, there are some ninja games interspersed throughout the list. They are of a similar genre so I think it is fitting to put them together. Samurai and ninjas are both fighters in their levels of society after all.
Ghost of Tsushima Is Among The Best Samurai Games
A big hit when it was released two years ago (and still is), Ghost of Tsushima is an awesome reminder as to why samurai games can be great. You’ll be playing Jin Sakai as he tries to protect the island of Tsushima from the first Mongolian invasion. The game is infused with Japanese culture, from its folklore and mythology to its gameplay.
It is a game rich with culture and a plot that delivers. Of course, we can’t forget the black and white mode also known as the Kurosawa Mode. This mode made the visuals of the game infinitely more dramatic in its portrayal.
Ghost of Tsushima won a ton of awards for its visuals, and you truly can’t deny them the honor. This is one of the best samurai games, if not the best in our current time.
Aside from that, if you’re itching for a challenge, you can try playing the game on its highest difficulty setting.
There’s also a multiplayer mode, horde mode, and raid for you to play with your friends if you’re all itching for more action.
Nioh: A Samurai Game With An Incredible Combat System
In Nioh and Nioh 2, you’ll be fighting against yokai as an Englishman, or better referred to as a Western Samurai. This separates it from most samurai games and makes its plot more intriguing. Nioh itself got a remastered version for you to play on the PS5 if you’re interested in trying it out!
The game is known for its interesting combat system revolving around using Ki, which acts as your stamina and ability. The controls for the game are easy to understand once you’ve tested it out and explored the various combat options.
Other than that, you’ll be spoiled with all sorts of weapons at your disposal, be it ranged or melee. There are different stances for you to use based on the various situations you’ll find yourself in as well.
It comes as no surprise that Nioh’s combat is often celebrated and enjoyed by newcomers and veterans alike.
For Honor: A Fighting Game With A Splash Of Samurai
Alright, For Honor may not completely be a samurai game. But if you’ve decided to play as part of the Dawn Empire that allows you to become a samurai, then it fits.
From the character design to its gameplay, it fits the samurai way. All the heroes in For Honor have their distinct skills, fighting styles, and weapons – this grants varied gameplay for everyone.
There are eight Samurai classes for you to choose from, with different skills. If you want to explore the various types of samurai potential, you’ve certainly come to the right place. Plus, there’s a multiplayer mode and a feature known as The Faction War that renews every season.
I would say For Honor is for those who enjoy more from their gameplay. More choices, more modes, more diversity.
We can argue over semantics but it will always make our list among the best Samurai games.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice: FromSoftware’s Brutal Difficulty Is Always Present
It would be a crime to exclude Sekiro. FromSoftware has yet to disappoint with the quality and challenge they present with their games. In Sekiro, you’re a shinobi out for vengeance against an entire clan of samurai. All for kidnapping the young lord you’re tasked with protecting.
For its gameplay, you’ll be focused on stealth, exploration, and challenging boss battles. Sekiro is more of an individualistic experience compared to other games on this list, as with most FromSoftware games. There is no multiplayer experience, co-op, campaigns or character customizations, as you are playing as the Wolf himself.
The one aspect that most players enjoy about Sekiro is its stealth mechanics. It makes you feel like a true shinobi lurking around and catching your enemies unaware. As one of the best samurai games that previously won Game of The Year, perhaps you should add it to your list.
Total War: Shogun 2
Although this game has been out for more than a decade now, it’s still a pretty good strategy game set in feudal Japan. Total War: Shogun 2 offers a different experience, as you will be managing a clan to be the sole ruler of Japan. To do so, you will be strategizing ways to take over other clans through war or politics.
Of course, this game is not for everyone. But, it has all the markers of a great and compelling strategy game. Battles take place on all terrains, the sea and weather changes affect the outcomes of your battle as well. It’s as realistic as it can get.
To add to the fun, you can have multiplayer battles and even co-op campaigns with an AI or a friend of your own. One unique mechanic that a lot of players enjoy would be the Realm Divide feature. This is where the surviving clans rally against you. This is triggered once you’ve conquered a majority of the clans or by capturing Kyoto. So, join in and start conquering your space now!
Katana Zero: A Neo-Noir Mind Trip Of A Samurai Game
An oddball, Katana Zero is a neo-noir action platformer. You play as a samurai relying completely on your sword to fight back and defend yourself against enemies with guns. Sounds like a silly thing to do in real life, but within the world of Katana Zero, it works a little too well.
In a world that is bursting with neon colors, you control Subject Zero. He is an assassin with amnesia that can slow down time and predict the future. To figure out his past, he needs to complete all his assassination contracts. The plot and story of this game will keep you hooked to the end.
For its gameplay, players will have to hack and slash their way through levels without getting a single hit. One hit and its game over for you. In terms of combat, you’ll be able to use your sword to deflect bullets, slow down time to dodge bullets, and take advantage of objects in your environment.
There are all sorts of missions, some requiring stealth and some including chases, so you are sure to be entertained. Katana Zero is quite the underdog among the best samurai games and platformers but we love it.
Mark of The Ninja: A Gritty Option With Some Cartoon Appeal
Another game that’s been around for about a decade, Mark of The Ninja is a stealth-based 2D platformer. The entire game revolves around sneaking around and stealthily assassinating enemies. It is a straightforward game, but you can make it more complex if you would like a challenge.
Each level is carefully crafted and you won’t get the same experience twice. You’ll have to figure out the best way to stealthily navigate each challenge that comes your way. If you’re intrigued by the clash of modernity and the traditional ninja way, you’ll want to give this game a shot.
In terms of visuals, Mark of The Ninja does look like a dark and gritty cartoon that you would catch playing on TV. It’s more on the cartoonish side than realistic, which is an interesting take on a game about assassinating people. Yet it works.
Ryu Ga Gotoku Ishin: A Japan Exclusive Worth Hunting Down
A spin-off of the Ryu Ga Gotoku series, better known as the Yakuza series in Western adaptations. Ryu Ga Gotoku Ishin is chaotic fun! Sadly, this game is only released in Japan for now. But we’re hoping that there will be a Western release in the future. Of course, you can get an imported version or use an emulator, but it would still be in Japanese.
You’re filling up the shoes of Sakamoto Ryoma during a distressing time in Japan. He’s fresh off training and ready to take on the world with his sword. But alas, the world isn’t so kind and luck isn’t on his side. This game is highly recommended for those who are already aware of the plot and characters of the franchise.
For its gameplay, in true Yakuza fashion, there will be random quests and dealing with gangsters as you go along. Based solely on reviews, it’s a great game! Its only downside is that you would have to understand Japanese or find a site that would provide translations.
Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada
Samurai Warriors is a somewhat old game. Even so, the latest version could easily be played on the PS4 Pro. Spirit of Sanada reuses the same features and play style of its predecessor, Samurai Warriors 4, and is a hack and slash game.
Your objective is to get to the enemy’s commander and kill him. To do so, you have to navigate waves and hordes of enemies at once. Aside from this, there are also side quests for you to complete, so you won’t feel like the game is too linear in its objectives and gameplay.
With Spirit of Sanada, there are new mechanics added to differentiate it from its brethren – long-term battles with day and night cycles, Stratagems, Sanada Coins, a new Castle Town, and a new menu system. Set in the Sengoku period, you’ll get to experience a time filled with political and military conflict amongst different clans, yours being the Sanada clan.
Way of The Samurai 4: There’s A Reason It’s A Franchise
From its title, you can already tell that this game was made to be on this list. It would be treacherous if Way of The Samurai didn’t make it to a list of the best samurai games. That aside, this is an action-adventure with RPG elements featured in it. Your samurai is customizable and you can choose whose faction you would like to align yourself with.
The game is mostly fictional, and your decisions shape every outcome of the game, so choose wisely! The main campaign takes place in 5 days with 10 endings for you to attain if you’re curious about how the story could change.
There are several new features added to the game for you to explore, but one of the more interesting ones would be Proof of Life, where your current actions will affect your next run. There are also minigames and a torture element, where you get punished for doing bad things, amongst many other interesting features.
This is a must-play if you want to experience a true samurai lifestyle which is why we’ve added it to our list of the best Samurai games.
Samurai Gunn: A 2D Bushido brawler
Another samurai game that leans towards the unconventional, Samurai Gunn is a 2D Bushido brawler where your characters are armed with a sword and a gun. It is also a local multiplayer experience, so bring along 2 – 4 people for more fun!
The game has platforming elements added to it as well. Each character has only 3 bullets per life, and bullets can be deflected with perfect timing with a sword or another bullet. It is a one-hit K.O. game, similar to that of Katana Zero, but you don’t have to start from scratch here.
A sequel has also been announced, so you can expect to see Samurai Gunn 2 out sometime in the future. Samurai Gunn is a simple and basic game, but its intensity and addictive gameplay will keep you coming back for more. If you want something to fill your game nights, this is a good choice.
Aragami: A Stealthy Ninja Game
There aren’t that many stealthy ninja games that are well made out there, but Aragami is a great choice in that department. And if you love the first game, there’s always the sequel for you to try out. You’ll be controlling a shadow spirit assassin with supernatural abilities named Aragami.
As a shadow spirit, you’ll have teleportation abilities by jumping through shadows and your task is to defeat an army of mystical light warriors. Since you are an embodiment of shadow, you have something called a Shadow Essence which will be drained when you’re exposed to light and replenished by sitting in the shadows.
It’s easy to die as everyone in the game is out to kill you in various ways and each level has all sorts of guards patrolling them. But get your hands on some scrolls and you’ll be able to activate abilities to help you along. Overall, Aragami is a game that will get you hooked, be it with its story or its unique gameplay mechanics.
Warriors Orochi 4: A Fun Hack And Slash Game
You might be familiar with the Warriors Orochi title if you’ve been hanging around with samurai gaming enthusiasts. Warriors Orochi 4 is the latest release in the franchise, with another one rumored to be coming sometime in the future.
This is a hack and slash game that is a collaborative effort between Koei Tecmo and Omega Force, the two series in collaboration being Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors. You get to control a team of three characters from the two franchises, each character with a class type that determines their abilities.
If you’ve never played a Warriors Orochi game before, the plot will somewhat confuse you. The Olympus gods are somehow involved, and the characters are taken from their respective dimensional worlds to work together in search of Zeus’ stolen treasure. All this with blessings from key Olympus gods as well.
There are all sorts of mechanics for you to explore in the game which would take forever to explain, so if you’re interested in unique features and another interesting take on the ‘multiverse’, you’ll likely agree that it’s among the best samurai games.
Samurai Shodown: An SNK Classic
A fighting game series by SNK, great for those who are looking for no plot but want all the action. This is for those who enjoy fighting games and want something different – characters with samurai swords and a strong Japanese influence.
The latest release in the franchise would be the Samurai Shodown Neo Geo Collection in 2020, but the 2019 one plays just as well. Samurai Shodown can even be found in arcades, and its controls are pretty easy to understand with only four main buttons.
Just like other fighting games, there are a ton of button combinations for you to mash to figure out how to evade, counterattack, capture, and intercept your opponent. If you’re confused, button mashing is an option, although not encouraged. There’s even a Rage Gauge that fills up and activates Rage Mode – which is always one of the best parts of a fighting game like this.
Bushido Blade: The Video Game That Started It All
The samurai game that started it all. Bushido Blade is still a highly beloved game in the samurai gaming community and has been dubbed by some as one of the best samurai games out there. Although, if you want to experience it, you might need to get an emulator of some sort. There’s also a sequel!
The reason why a lot of people favor Bushido Blade is that it doesn’t have any time limits or health gauge, with most hits ending in instant death. It is also a one-on-one battle between two people. Sure, instant death sucks, which is why there are workarounds where you can injure a person without killing them by hitting the right spots.
Its story mode adds the Bushido Code, where you will be penalized for acting dishonorably. This will end your playthrough at some point, so you will have to replay the game. If you don’t want to waste time, be honourable! There are also multiplayer modes, different weapons to choose from and multiple fighting stances to try out.
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
In a rather interesting combination of stealth and real-time strategy, we have Shadow Tactics: Blades of The Shogun. If you’re familiar with the Commandos and Desperados franchises, then this is the Japanese counterpart to that.
You are assigned by the shogun to uncover the mysterious warlord that is attempting to bring chaos to a peaceful Japan, along with four other allies. As a group, you’ll be doing various stealth missions involving sabotage, assassinations, intelligence gathering, and more. Each member of the group has unique abilities and quirks that add to the gameplay.
There are multiple badges awarded for each mission, one for completing it on the hardest mode and another for finishing it under a set period, while the rest are for cooler achievements. This allows for more replayability, especially if you’re looking to challenge yourself by increasing the game’s difficulty.
Soulcalibur VI: A Good Mix of Samurai Characters
Adding to the fighting games list, we have SoulCalibur VI. This is the latest installment in the highly popular franchise, and not many changes are added to it. We still have two warriors fighting against each other, and other cool features of the previous games.
With SoulCalibur VI, we got the addition of Reversal Edge for better defense and a revamped Soul Charge. This game doesn’t solely have samurai or sword-wielding characters, but a whole roster of fighters of different varieties for you to try out or fight against.
However, its samurai renditions – Haohmaru, Setsuka, Yoshimitsu, and Heishiro are pretty good if you’re looking for some quick and varied samurai action.
The plot of the game (yes, there is a plot, even if it is a fighting game), continues after the events of Soulcalibur V and tells the story of Cassandra’s past.
Great for long-time fans, and for newcomers who don’t care about a game’s plot.
Onimusha 3: Demon Siege
When you have the time, playing the other games in the Onimusha series would be a treat. But, if you’re pressed for time, the third one would be a great experience to get you hooked. The franchise pairs supernatural elements with historical events and was said to be inspired by Resident Evil.
You’re a swordsman out to defeat your ultimate nemesis of previous games that wishes to conquer the country with his demons. The twist here is that you end up switching lives with a man from the future with the same ambitions as well. The game plays out from both perspectives, which grants a rather cinematic feel to the game.
There are time travel-based puzzles to solve this time, which are needed for progression. Other than that, we’ve got side missions, elemental weapons, magical attacks that affect fighting styles, and more.
With all that it brings to the table, Onimusha 3: Demon Siege is a treat to experience and one of the best samurai games available.
Getsufumaden: Undying Moon
If you’re looking for something interesting, GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon is a roguevania hack and slash platformer. This isn’t something you come across every day either. With bone crisp animation and a gameplay that will leave you positively frustrated, GetsuFumaDen deserves a spot on the best samurai games list.
The art style employed in the game is known as the Japanese ukiyo-e art style and brings out a traditional feel with pops of color. You’ll be going through 8 levels where you’ll get to acquire special Japanese martial arts moves, as well as customizable weapons.
To succeed in GetsuFumaDen, you’ll need to master your enemy attack patterns, learn to attack at the right time, and know when to give or take space. Since this game is partially roguelike, you’ll have to restart everything when you die. It’s all part of the challenge.
Kenshi: A Samurai Conquest Created By One Person
Kenshi is a game that should be appreciated for the sheer work it took one person to develop and design for twelve years. It features open-world sandbox gameplay where players get to do whatever they want in a post-apocalyptic setting. Quite hard to explain, as there are tons of quirks that make this game fun, so try it out yourself!
You can choose to become whatever you want – a thief, trader, warrior, etc. and play however you want as there’s no story or linear gameplay for you to stick to. This also means that you can be the samurai warrior that you’ve always envisioned.
Players originally start with nothing at all and will have to figure out a way to survive. As you continue doing all sorts of actions in the game, you’ll start to level up.
Besides that, you can also recruit whatever creature or human you come across to join your faction and eventually build your very own town of misfits. As the gameplay has a survivability mechanic tied to it, the environment and all sorts of features in the game are constantly out to kill you, so good luck!
This is perhaps the best samurai game developed by a single person.
Kessen Aims For Pretty Decent Historical Accuracy
There are two more games in the Kessen franchise, but I would rather talk about the one that started it all. The other two games added a magical and meteorological element to the complicated gameplay, which is not present in the original. As one of the first real-time tactics wargame on the PS2, it is only right we pay homage to Kessen.
It is as historically accurate as possible, with some imaginary scenarios added to it for more spice. The game focuses on the conflict between the Tokugawa and Toyotomi clans, a fight between the east and west. You begin the game as the leader of the east, and your perspective switches to the leader of the west towards the end.
Once you’ve finished your initial playthrough, you’ll have a chance to pick a side before playing it again. If you’re looking for something more serious, accurate, and a smidge of romanticization, Kessen is a great wargame that stands the test of time.
Ninjas are all about that stealth, and in Tenchu, that’s pretty evident. Although Tenchu is a super old game, a remaster seems to be in the works for next-gen consoles. There were several versions released but none could compare to the original.
Playing from a third-person point of view, you’ll accompany two ninjas that work as spies for their lord in seeking out corruption and gathering information. The idea is to be as stealthy as possible through each level to get a ‘Grand Master’ rating to unlock helpful items for your missions.
You’ll be ducking, hiding, crouching, and killing enemies with stealth, and there’s a handy Ki meter added into the game as well. Adding to the fray, there are four main characters in the game, each a different type of ninja that brings different skills to the table. The plot of the game is rather interesting as well as you reveal secrets and protect the province.
Ninja Gaiden: A Notoriously Difficult Franchise To Master
You’ve probably heard of Ninja Gaiden and its punishing difficulty as a franchise. This is one of the longest-standing ninja games out there, so you can decide whether to play the older versions that have started it all or the modern ones. There’s a lot to choose from across numerous platforms as well.
If you’d like a taste of a good set of Ninja Gaiden games, I would recommend you get the Master Collection. To summarize, you’ll be playing like a master ninja on a mission to recover a stolen sword and avenge the murder of his clan. He moves rather fluidly throughout the game, swinging around, jumping off walls, and more.
Per usual, he starts with practically nothing and levels up as you progress. The same goes for his weapons. There are several regions for you to unlock by fighting enemies, solving puzzles, or finding special keys. Ninja Gaiden is an action-adventure game that is sure to keep you moving, with features that feel all too familiar.
Shadow Warrior: Samurai Sorts Meet FPS
A super old game that got a reboot in 2013, Shadow Warrior is a first-person shooter game with Asian mythological elements. An FPS game made it to the list? What? Let me explain! Lo Wang’s signature weapon is a katana that is highly effective against enemies, especially in tight spaces.
So sure, you’ll be shooting some firearm during the long-range fights, but when you get into tight situations, whip out your katana and slash everyone to pieces. You can use the katana to decapitate enemies or perform large swings to take down multiple enemies, as well as perform a quick strike while using your firearm.
There are also other non-firearm weapons like shurikens, crossbows, and sticky grenades, but where’s the fun in that?
The plotline is interesting as it is intertwined with mythical creatures and magic. When you’re done, you can start playing Shadow Warrior 2 and the latest, Shadow Warrior 3 which was recently released!
We even have a review of Shadow Warrior 3 that might tickle your fancy.
Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time
If you’re familiar with Samurai Jack as a cartoon, you’re going to want to play this game. Cartoon aside, Samurai Jack as a game is pretty phenomenal and one of the few cartoon-based games that live up to the hype. I
n this action platformer, you’ll get to play Samurai Jack himself as you battle through the locations and events that were popularized in the cartoon series.
You’ll be fighting against Aku’s minions in occasionally tight spaces, but with a variety of melee and ranged weapons to choose from, you’ll be fine. There are four levels of difficulty that affect the frequency of your enemies and their strength if you require more of a challenge.
Besides that, there are bonus area-based challenges with modifiers and restrictions that are unlocked when the story mode is complete. This grants more playtime and replayability for those of you who can’t get enough of the game.
When Samurai Jack was first announced as a video game it never crossed our minds that it could make the best samurai games list but here we are.
Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate
This title is the fifth entry in the franchise. And you can’t go wrong with any of the other titles but this is the latest one to be released. You could try playing the previous entries, but they might be harder to find. Shiren the Wanderer is a roguelike RPG game where you get to fight through random dungeons and monsters as you climb to the top of a magical tower.
On your journey, you’ll be collecting treasures as well as useful items and equipment to use in battle. Since this is a roguelike, your death means restarting from scratch. Every time you restart, the dungeons get randomized and the monsters change positions, so you won’t have the same playthrough experience twice.
A great game for variety, and you’ll be playing as a silent protagonist in Japan’s feudal era. As it is a roguelike, there’s not much story to uncover here. However, if you would like a solid silent samurai roguelike experience, you can have Shiren.
Afro Samurai: A Shockingly Good Anime/Manga Adaptation
Taking a hit anime/manga and making it into a game that lives up to its impact is no small feat, and Afro Samurai does exactly that. The game is loosely based on the source material but it does embody the spirit of the material quite well. With cel-shaded animation, it does feel close to its anime counterpart.
Afro Samurai is a hack and slash brawler set in a world where everyone is constantly on the hunt to be the ‘Number One’. The only person allowed to challenge the Number One would be the Number Two, so everyone has to fight each other to get in a position where they could challenge him and take over.
This game is now over a decade, but you can try giving the second game a shot as well if you enjoyed it. In terms of the story, it is quite rich as you follow numerous flashbacks of your character motivated by revenge to avenge his father.
For combat, aside from the usual hits, sword slashes and kicks, you’ll have a magic pendant to slow down time as well as perform special moves.
Sword of the Samurai
I’ve mentioned some super old games on our list, but this one probably takes the cake. Even so, it’s one of those games that deserve an honorable mention. Sword of the Samurai has aged quite gracefully and was even re-released in digital form in 2014.
The whole point of the game is to gain honor, which you will do as you continue to rank up in your chosen faction. More honor equals more power, and it’s not all about killing your enemies. You’ll have to be diplomatic and make fair decisions as a general to your men. The end game would be finally being granted the title of Shogun.
To get there, you need to be respected and honorable enough. This game is an interesting mix of strategy, RPG, adventure, and simulation all in feudal Japan. For me, its visuals are quirky and grant it a certain character, although some may be put off by it.
Brave Fencer Musashi
This is a game that brings back childhood nostalgia for some, and it is now a game that is lost to time. Even so, Brave Fencer Musashi is an action-adventure that once ranked high on everyone’s list. You play as Musashi, a swordsman summoned to a parallel world to defend a kingdom while searching for the five scrolls that would empower his sword.
For its time, Brave Fencer Musashi showcased some fun fantasy elements in its gameplay and plotline that would keep you rather entertained. You’ll be fighting monsters, collecting artifacts and saving a princess. Sounds, familiar right?
All I can say is that if you’re looking for nostalgia in the best ways possible, you might want to revisit this one or try it out. Of course, as a super old game, it is quite hard to find. Perhaps you might have better luck locating its sequel which was on the PS2 back in 2005.
Muramasa The Demon Blade: A 2D Side Scroller RPG
A 2D side scroller RPG set in the Edo period of Japan, Muramasa The Demon Blade is the last oldie and samurai video game title we have on this list that was released on the Wii and PS Vita. There are two protagonists in this game, and their fates are somewhat intertwined – one is a princess and the other is a ninja warrior.
The story revolves around the demon blades that take over the mind of the Shogun, making him bloodthirsty and crave for destruction. This game features avoidable and scripted combat situations and has cooking elements as well as NPCs. There are two weapon categories – Blade and Long Blade. Weapons in both categories have different properties and abilities.
Overall, there are about 108 weapons to collect or forge in the game, which is impressive, to say the least. The only issue is getting a hold of the game would be incredibly difficult, so tough luck!
If we happen to miss out on some titles that you think deserve a spot on our best Samurai games list, let us know in the comments below! We’re always looking to update our lists and make them as inclusive and complete as possible.