Windows 和 Playstation 3*
Windows and Playstation 3*
RPG 游戏最常被人们所谈论的方面往往是它们的容量和长度。从 80 年代开始，杂志广告里就充斥着“30 个地下城”、“超过 200 种怪物”以及“几十小时的快乐游玩”之类的说辞，这种趋势在《上古卷轴（Elder Scrolls）》和《巫师（The Witcher）》系列这种庞然大物出现后愈演愈烈——游戏动辄需要 60 小时以上才能通关，有时玩家甚至要花上超过 100 小时才能玩完一遍。
然而，一旦一款游戏（像时下很多 RPG 一样）引入了由玩家选择影响的要素，那么如何让史诗叙事在保持长度的同时不偏离正轨就成了一件很有难度的事情。常见的解决办法是让不同的选择在一段时间内有不同的结果，但很快它们就会归结到主线叙事流程之中。《质量效应（Mass Effect）》就是这样一个例子——游戏考虑了你所做的选择，但即使你决定当有史以来的世界第一混蛋，你仍然要按部就班地完成任务以拯救银河系。
而《侍道（Way of the Samurai）》系列则走向了这种理念的完全对立面。系列第一作于 2002 年在 PlayStation 2 上发行，玩家作为一个漂泊的浪人（ronin）来到一座偏远的小村子。从这里开始，一切完全取决于玩家：你可以卷入到当地帮派之间的冲突之中，可以尝试从土匪手中保护一位女子，可以杀掉遇到的每一个人，甚至可以在村里随意逛逛然后就离开——不到五分钟就能“通关”。
Often one of the most talked about aspects of RPGs is their size and length. Since the 80s, magazine ads boasted lines like “30 dungeons”, “over 200 monsters” and “dozens of hours of fun”, and the trend only got stronger with the rise of gargantuan RPGs like the Elder Scrolls or The Witcher series – games that can take over 60 hours to beat, with some players enduring over a hundred hours in a single playthrough.
However, keeping a lengthy, epic narrative on track is very tricky when the game has to factor in the player's decisions, as many RPGs do. A very common solution is for choices to branch out only for a while, then quickly tie back into the main narrative. It's what games like Mass Effect do – choices are accounted for, but even if you are the worst bastard who ever lived you'll still have to do X and Y to save the galaxy.
Going in direct opposition to this philosophy is the Way of the Samurai series. The first game, released in 2002 for the PlayStation 2, cast players as a wandering ronin who enters a small remote village. From there on, everything was up to the player – he could get involved in a conflict between local factions, try to protect a woman from bandits, kill everyone he sees or just casually cross the village and leave, “finishing” the game in under five minutes.
《侍道 4（Way of the Samurai 4）》是系列第一次登陆 PC 平台（现在《侍道 3》也加入了这一行列），在一部分人心中这也是系列里最好的一作。玩家扮演一名来到港口小镇阿弥滨（Amihama）的浪人。游戏背景设定在 1855 年的幕末（Bakumatsu）时代，此时幕府统治已如风中残烛，而日本正在被外国战舰不怀好意地入侵领海。游戏通过三方主要势力来表现这种紧张局势：幕府势力、来访的英国大使以及一伙反对外国人的极端分子。
玩家到达小镇的时候正遇上三方势力的一场混战，此时玩家可以自由决定站在哪一方——或者直接走开。这款游戏用流程长度换来了内容广度：镇子很小，只有 9 个小区域和屈指可数的可互动关键角色。但有限的场景之中玩家可以探索到相当多的故事可能性以及完全不同的结果。
Way of the Samurai 4 was the first game of the series released on PC (now also joined by Way of the Samurai 3) and it's arguably the best among them. You create a ronin who arrives at the port town of Amihama. The game is set in 1855, during the Bakumatsu period, when the Shogunate was at its end and the Japanese were suffering the incursion of foreign warships into their waters – often on unfriendly terms. This tension is portrayed in three main factions: the Shogunate forces, a visiting British ambassador and a group of anti-foreigner extremists.
As you arrive in town, a fight breaks out between the factions, and it's up to you to pick a side – or simply walk away. It's a game that trades length for width; the town is tiny, with just nine small areas, and there's only a handful of key characters to interact with. But within this limited setup you can explore many possibilities, with entirely different outcomes.
Maybe you want to side with a faction, only to betray it later. Or you'll devote yourself to helping a single character. Perhaps you're in town just to fight in a tournament, or to steal from shops. You can play a silent character that refuses to answer any question, or draw your blade during conversations and attack.
Way of the Samurai 4 is a game designed to be replayed many times, learning about the characters, the world and the consequences of your actions. Your money, items, weapons and, better yet, choices will carry into your next playthroughs in various ways, from store prices to expanding your possibilities.
For example, your Japanese ronin won't be able to understand most foreigners at first. However, if you help build a language school, it will remain there in future playthroughs, so your next characters will now understand the foreigners – and that will open new story possibilities for you to explore.