Review: The Craft of the Samurai

Follow Hanshiro down the path of a samurai in this short kinetic novel that takes inspiration from cinematic works of famous Japanese directors.

The Craft of the Samurai, a game in development by Evgeniy Sevostyanov, is a short kinetic novel that takes inspiration from the cinematic works of famous Japanese directors Masaki Kobayashi, Akira Kurosawa, and Hideo Gosha. 

Follow the story of Hanshiro, an old farmer, as he once again travels down the path of a samurai in order to save his loved ones. 

VN Game Den was provided with an early access copy of the game via the review request form. 

The Craft of the Samurai is short and to the point, with no room for fluff in the middle. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rather, it leads to some very serious and emotional storytelling that focuses on themes like honor and family. With a shorter, more direct approach, Sevostyanov is able to cut directly to the action of the story and ends the tale on a very poignant note. 

However, a little more detail surrounding other aspects of the story such as the setting and the backstory of the main character would go a long way. It’s easier to relate to characters and want to root for them when you know more about their characterization.

While sticking true to its inspiration, The Craft of the Samurai creates a distracting style of writing that may be a bit confusing for the reader to follow.  The way the story is presented mirrors a film script as opposed to your average visual novel. Characters’ actions are told in parentheses within the dialogue. There are no breaks in between the two types of writing, leaving for some tangled text.  

There are no character sprites or backgrounds that the player can use to show how characters are feeling or what they’re doing. The images are presented as CGs, almost as if players are reading a picture book. There are pros and cons to this approach.

The artwork is stunning and captures the feel of the time period perfectly. However, there isn’t enough variation. Too much action occurs over a few key CGs, so much so that as the text goes on, it begins to deviate from the image we’re seeing on the screen. This makes the game feel stale in certain parts. Additional art, especially with the same high quality as the existing art, would enhance the player’s experience. 

The Craft of the Samurai has amazing music that fits each scene like a glove. The music is never overbearing, even when suspenseful, action-packed scenes are playing. Because of this, the experience of playing this game is very relaxing. It’s something you’ll be able to sit down on your bed and play through in a single sitting. Adding on further to the audio are sound effects which help add immersion to the game’s world. 

There are no choices in The Craft of the Samurai and a full playthrough will take you around a single hour. As the game’s Steam page says, “Follow the story and don’t get distracted.” Would I recommend this game? If you love movies, particularly Japanese classics, or if you’re a history buff, I’d say that you’ll definitely want to give this game a try!

You can download The Craft of the Samurai on Steam.

Anna Mirabella

Spooktober 2022 Visual Novel Jam

VN Game Den in your Inbox!

Subscribe to the VN Game Den emailing list and receive notifications when our new content goes out!

Join 41 other subscribers