While there are a lot of samurai games in the market, looking for free-roaming or open-world titles that are similar to Ghost of Tsushima is not an easy task. But not to worry, we have collected 12 different samurai game titles that let you run around freely in a feudal Japan setting. Ready to scratch that katana-slashing-and-dicing itches again? Let’s take a closer look at the lists.
Way of the Samurai series (PS2, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, PC)
Before Ghost of Tsushima, Way of the Samurai was the open-world samurai game. First released on PS2 in 2002, the series managed to spawn three sequels, a PSP port, and a couple of spinoffs. This game didn’t just let you roam around feudal Japan as a katana-wielding samurai but also lets you murder anyone that gets in your way with a hundred different types of swords, which would end up giving you different endings. And just like another open-world title, Saints Row, with each subsequent sequels the series get sillier; starting from a grounded story about a wandering swordsman that gets entangled into a problem in the countryside in the first game to shooting and kicking people in a cowboy get-up in Way of the Samurai 4.
Ghost of Tsushima (PS4)
In case you haven’t played it, Ghost of Tsushima takes place in the late 13th century when Japan was invaded by Mongols. You, as the head of the Sakai clan and a samurai warrior Jin Sakai, are tasked to free the population of Tsushima island and drive back the Mongolian army — either through honorable fights or stealthy guerilla tactics. Compared to most samurai games out there that usually use the 15th-19th century settings, Tsushima definitely managed to leave its mark in the genre. Even becoming one of PS4’s best-selling new IPs.
Katana Kami: A Way of the Samurai Story (PS4, PC, Switch)
One of the previously mentioned Way of the Samurai spinoff. Katana Kami was released on February 20, 2020, and shifted its genre; from third-person open-world to isometric free-roaming dungeon-crawling, not unlike Diablo, Torchlight, and the likes. Your goal in this title is to rescue the daughter of a renowned blacksmith (and a recurring character in the series), Gunji Dojima. Like in the other Way of the Samurai, this game still lets you collect 100 types of weapons and swearing allegiances to three different factions along the way.
Yakuza Kenzan (PS3)
Officially named Ryu ga Gotoku: Kenzan since this samurai-themed spinoff of the Yakuza series never released out of Japan. Here you play as the legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi (that looks just like Kiryu) in the year 1605. Retired from his hired swordsman life to become a modest bodyguard, he was thrown back into the life of crime after a little girl named Haruka comes looking for a local hitman known as Kiryu Kazumanosuke — his new identity.
Yakuza Ishin (PS3, PS4)
Released six years after Kenzan in 2014, Ishin does not act as its sequel and tells a completely new story. Set in the Bakumatsu period between 1853-1867, you play as Sakamoto Ryoma who joins the shogunate special police force Shinsengumi in search of his mentor’s killer. Regarding gameplay, it plays similarly to Yakuza 0 and Kiwami where there are four different fighting styles to choose from and even having silly minigames including chicken racing and karaoke.
Nioh series (PS4, PC)
This samurai game is pretty different compared to Way of the Samurai and Ghost of Tsushima. Not just because it features deep fantasy elements but also its gameplay is like a combination of stamina-based combat of Dark Souls, Diablo‘s loot system, and fast-paced action of Ninja Gaiden (just with less aerial combo though). In the first game, you play as an “Irish samurai” William Adams who end up being involved in the Japanese Warring State era (Sengoku Jidai) while looking for Saoirse, his guardian spirit who was kidnapped by the occultist Edward Kelley. In Nioh 2 though, you are free to make a custom character.
Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada (PS3, PS Vita, PS4, PC)
While Dynasty Warriors are known as the button-mashing game where you kill hundreds of infantry with a flick of a finger, Spirit of Sanada adds a much-needed twist to the repetitive gameplay. There’s a free-roaming element where you can run around in a hub town to upgrade weapons, talk to other characters, and do minigames like fishing and farming. Aside from mowing enemy soldiers on the battlefield, you can also go into “dungeons” to get upgrade materials and XP for your characters.
Released in 2017 the game mostly centered on the exploits of the Sanada samurai clan, especially the life of Yukimura Sanada, in the Sengoku Jidai. Although it makes the story far more focused than other titles but some of you who wanted a bigger story, longer levels, and more characterizations for other, non-Sanada-related characters might be disappointed.
Throne of Darkness (PC)
Like Katana Kami, this is a dungeon-crawler samurai game — just more archaic, debuted in 2001. Developed by ex-Blizzard North employees Throne of Darkness plays similarly to Diablo with a fantasy feudal Japanese aesthetics. Set in the fictional land of Yamato, the shogun Tsunayoshi transforms himself into the demon Zanshin and attacked the four daimyo landlords. However, one of them managed to survive and planned a counterattack along with seven of his retainers. In-game you control up to four different samurai retainers at a time and the game’s online mode supports up to 35 players.
Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii, PS Vita)
A lesser-known side-scrolling action game from Vanillaware, developer of Odin’s Sphere and Dragon’s Crown. Like their other works, Muramasa is heavily influenced by folklore and mythology. Originally released for Wii in 2009, you play as both princess Momohime and runaway ninja Kisuke, who for one reason and another end up in possession of blood craving Demon Blades made by the order of shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. The PS Vita re-release, Muramasa Rebirth, later launched in 2013 along with extra DLC scenarios and gameplay and translation fixes.
Sekiro (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
The Game Award’s Game of the Year 2019 winner. It tells the story of the one-armed ninja Wolf who has to rescue Divine Heir Kuro from the warlord Genichiro Ashina. Although not a “proper” samurai game, Sekiro still gives you tools to fight face-to-face against heavily armored samurai enemies, open areas, backtracking, and features a disheveled but beautiful feudal Japanese landscape as the game’s background.
Tenchu series (PS1, PS2, PSP, Xbox, Xbox 360, NDS, Wii)
Talking about ninja and open areas, this list will have to stray from the “samurai games” theme and recommend two somewhat related titles. First, the classic stealth game Tenchu. As Rikimaru and Ayame you have to defeat the evil sorcerer Mei-Oh who seeks to destroy Lord Gohda. While fighting face-to-face in this game is not easy but the game gives you fun, dynamic stealth sandbox that lets you approach assassination targets however you like. Fun fact: the Tenchu series were made by Acquire, the team behind Way of the Samurai, and published by Sekiro‘s developer FromSoftware.
Shinobido series (PSP, PS Vita)
And the second one is Shinobido, which you could say were Tenchu‘s spiritual successor since they were made by Acquire as well. But if Tenchu prioritized stealth and silent takedowns, Shinobido‘s combat is much more lenient, letting you either go full ninja on enemies or attack them head-on. The game also featured an open-ended system that allowed you to choose allegiances between different feudal lords. In the game, you will play as an amnesiac ninja who has to discover his memory and the truth behind the destruction of the Asuka ninja clan.
Which games have you played or interested in from this list? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.