The Way of the Samurai

Ghost of Tsushima is almost here, giving players yet another chance to step into the role of a samurai in feudal Japan. Though Ghost of Tsushima might be the latest game to allow players a chance to take on that role, there have been plenty of other great games that focus on the honorable history of the samurai and ninja.

Below are 10 of the best samurai games to play before the release of Ghost of Tsushima on July 17.


Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun isn't a game that's about living out ninja fantasies or jumping into battle as an invincible samurai. Instead, it's a game about tactical planning, using terrain to your advantage, and learning the patrol patterns of enemies. This tactical turn-based game is a great way to get into the mind of a ninja or a samurai not as an idealized warrior, but as a soldier. Given the setting of Ghost of Tsushima, this might be good practice for some players.'


This reboot of the Strider series as almost nothing to do with real ninjas, but style drips from every frame. Instead of placing players in the role of anything realistic, players get an awesome chance to play out the role of a ninja as they've imagined it. Though fairly overlooked at the time in favor of other ninja-based games, Strider definitely gives players the chance to have some fun as a futuristic ninja assassin, and that makes it worth your time.


Way of the Samurai 4 isn't the most highly-regarded game in the world, but few will argue that it doesn't excel at creating an interesting world. This game allows players to create their own samurai and to pledge their loyalty to different factions. It also gives players the ability to actually impact the world in which they play - not bad for a game that was released almost a decade ago. It might lack the polish of more modern games, but Way of the Samurai 4 does have a lot of heart.


In Warframe, you get to play as a robot space ninja who can run on walls and take down armies of enemies. While the actual backstory of the game is actually a lot more complex than that, the game is absolutely one of the best ninja power fantasies out there. Free to play and easy to customize to your own playstyle, this is the type of game you boot up not because you want a realistic experience, but because you want a chance to do cool things in a video game. If you are there for style above substance, you've got to give Warframe a shot.


If you're looking for a modern game that allows a player to take on the role of a ninja, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is definitely your best choice. One of the latest twists on the Soulsborne formula, Sekiro combines stealth and action to create a version of Japan that blends fantasy and reality. Though it takes place hundreds of years after Ghost of Tsushima, Sekiro absolutely dials into a similar type of gameplay loop. If you've loved the other games on this list, Sekiro is the modern update for which you have been waiting.


If the aesthetics of samurai and ninja are your thing, you might want to try out one of the best-known fighting games based on these icons. Samurai Shodown is a long-running fight game series that has a huge emphasis on Japanese characters and cultures. Though not quite as well-known in the English-speaking world as games like Street Fighter or Final Fight, it's nevertheless a game that you'll want to play because of its incredible art style and atmosphere. You might not be getting authentic samurai or ninja action here, but Samurai Showdown always wins points for style.


Another game taking place towards the end of the Sengoku period, Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams is another action game that allows players to step into the shoes of an ancient Japanese warrior. Though the game has plenty of fantastical elements, it does allow players to work with AI characters and to focus on the martial aspects of the samurai. Though it's not the highest-rated of the Onimusha games, it's the most recent and the most playable for the modern gamer.


If your goal is to really get into the strategic world of the samurai, there is simply no better option than Total War: Shogun 2. Taking place in roughly the same time period as Nioh, this game allows players to command a samurai army while dealing with the politics of 17th-century Japan. Though it's hundreds of years after the setting of Ghost of Tsushima, [Shogun 2[( is nonetheless one of the best games for really getting into the overall mindset of pre-Industrial Japan.


If your goal is to engage in a more fantastical version of the samurai experience, the Nioh series games might be up your alley. Taking place in a world based on, but quite different from, Japan of the 16th and 17th centuries, players can take on the role of a samurai in an action-RPG that as some fairly heavy supernatural elements. Though it's not quite the same kind of game as Ghosts will be, the world that both Nioh series games build is fantastic.


If you're into the idea of fighting like a samurai, there are few games on the market that are going to be quite as satisfying as For Honor. This realistic martial combat sim allows players to take on the role of several different heavily-armored historical combatants, including the Samurai. Though the game's got a steep learning curve, it's also fantastic for those who want to get into the tactical mindset of a samurai before Ghost of Tsushima is released.