10 Best Samurai & Ninja Video Games Of All Time

Sekiro, Onimusha, Ghost of Tsushima - who's the master?

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Team Ninja

Samurai and ninja - the military gentry and shadow warriors of feudal Japan. They are regularly in all manner of games - as character archetypes, classes, or enemies. Final Fantasy, Street Fighter, even the Transformers had Drift. But samurai and ninja existed across more than 800 years of history - predating the First Crusade and post-dating the American Civil War.

Now, any 'great games' list is very subjective, of course. Mechanics, narrative, sound, style, and adherence to the topic were most important. For this reason, fighting games, such as Samurai Showdown, Bushido Blade, or Kengo: Master of Bushido, which are great but lack in narrative structure, aren't present.

On the opposite side of the coin, the Kessen franchise is a fantastic experience, but the strategic interface and abundance of narrative over function makes it very niche.

So if you're looking to get your feudal Japanese warrior fill, here are the best choices to pick up, if you haven't already.

10. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

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After finding success with Dark Souls and Bloodborne, FromSoftware shifted their hard-to-be-hard Soulsborne formula to feudal Japan in the way of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. With new enemies pulled from Japanese lore, you play as a shinobi brought back from the dead and given a clockwork mechanical arm. How awesome does that sound?

With increased verticality and stealth mechanics, Sekiro opens up new avenues to approach the deadly problems you'll face, in ways never before seen in FromSoftware's earlier games.

Likewise, the mechanical arm that the title character is given opens up some neat new techniques to use in and out of battle. Another stark change is moving from methodic dodge and strike techniques to whittle down boss health bars into a more quick-twitch counter, overwhelming an enemy's posture to deliver a satisfying, cinematic killing blow.

Like the later Dark Souls, Sekiro also has multiple possible endings giving it added replayability aside from just choosing the A or B ending after the last boss' defeat. Sekiro also has the added aspect of the game world growing worse each time you perish, giving even more reason to fight through and try to keep alive - no matter your own immortality.

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Author of Escort (Eternal Press, 2015), co-founder of Nic3Ntertainment, and developer behind The Sickle Upon Sekigahara (2020). Currently freelancing as a game developer and history consultant. Also tends to travel the eastern U.S. doing courses on History, Writing, and Japanese Poetry. You can find his portfolio at www.richardcshaffer.com.