Kamiwaza: Way of the Thief Review

Kamiwaza: Way of the Thief by developer Acquire Corp. and publisher NIS America Inc.Sony PlayStation 4 review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Well everyone, are you ready for a blast from the past? Are you ready to sneak? To hide? To steal for your sick daughter? Well then, look no further than Kamiwaza: Way of the Thief.

Kamiwaza: Way of the Thief is a remaster of Kamiwaza, an old PS2 title released in 2006. Finally, after 16 years, we get a North American release. In case you are wondering, yes, Kamiwaza is adjacently related to Tenchu and Way of the Samurai. Kamiwaza, both original and remaster, is a very niche title, but one that I think stealth game enthusiasts will get a kick from. So without further ado, let's take a look at how Kamiwaza may steal its way into your heart.

In Kamiwaza: Way of the Thief, you play as an aspiring virtuous thief, Ebizou. No killing, no stealing from those who take care of the community, giving back to the poor: these are the ideals that Ebizou strives for. During his first job working for the Silver Ravens, things go awry. Turns out the group of "virtuous thieves" he joined isn't so virtuous, as they start killing all the inhabitants of the mansion, servants and all. Ebizou then takes a young girl, Suzuna, away in hopes to have her live. Many years later, Ebizou has been making an honest living. Things don't always last though, as Suzuna has fallen ill. Without money, Ebizou is unable to afford the medicine for Suzuna, and so he returns to his ways of thievery.

As you might expect from the title, Kamiwaza: Way of the Thief is primarily a stealth based title. Or, well, at least it's supposed to be. Like with many games, Kamiwaza ultimately lets you decide how to play, although ignoring the stealth aspect just makes it all the harder for yourself. Let's take a look at the gameplay flow before we get into any thievery techniques. After your first basic of basics tutorials are finished, you will have the ability to take requests from the local boss of the area, who also happens to own the local bathhouse. The informant under her employ will give you new missions to select every day at 10am and 10pm in-game time. In-game minutes pass roughly every second, so days will progress pretty fast if you aren't paying attention.

Once accepting a mission, you must make your way over to the target location, find the item, or items, you are supposed to steal, and then escape. Sounds simple enough, but with locked doors, guards, and doors that may or may not be open, it can get a lot more difficult than it seems at first glance. After absconding with the treasure, you usually have a choice whether to donate it to the people in your village's "people's box", or to exchange it for cash at the bathhouse. I found myself often alternating between cashing in the rewards and helping out the people, but it's up to you how you want to play. Be warned though, as Suzuna is sick and needs some rather pricey medicine, so you may want to be aware of how much you have so her condition doesn't get worse.

Suzuna herself is something of a gameplay mechanic. You need to make sure she stays healthy by giving her medicine, or else her condition will worsen. This will probably involve you purchasing roughly one panacea per day to feed to her to keep her healthy. Speaking of mechanics, your reputation amongst the villagers will also provide benefits for you. Higher reputation means the people are less likely to report your crimes, and high enough values may see the people cheering for you as well! They may even remove some of the wanted posters around town to help you out.

Yes, that's right, the local guardsmen will put up wanted posters of you, which get progressively more accurate the more they see you. Get spotted too many times and everyone will know the thief is you. Guess what? It's really easy to figure out where someone lives in rural Japan when you know exactly what they look like. Yeah, they can and will show up to your house. Before you ask, yes it's a "game over". Thankfully there's a sort of new game + feature, where you get to carry over any items and skill levels, so you start out in a better spot. Yes, this is how my first playthrough went. Turns out it's really hard to avoid people when walking through a very populated town and everyone and their grandma knows and reports you.

So, how do you keep your face off the wanted posters? Well, the easiest way is to not be seen, or at least not seen in any real capacity. As you are sneaking around your targets, you have the option to put on a disguise. This disguise helps prevent people from recognizing you, although if you do get spotted and attacked by a guard, your disguise may come off. Be careful not to wear the disguise in town though, as people will notice how shifty you are wearing a face covering in the middle of town in broad daylight. Also, the stuff you steal gets put in the bag you carry around, which will visibly grow as you collect more items. A bigger bag not only slows you down, but also makes others suspicious. Make sure to find a good balance between loot and getting spotted.

Of course, the best way to not get reported is to just plain not get seen. Crawl around an area, hide behind bushes, on top of walls, on stairs, or between buildings, make noises and then circle around people while they are distracted, or just try and find ways into areas where you won't get caught. If you do get seen, you usually have a short timeframe where the screen will go red. If you hit the "hide" button during this time, you will do a dodge-roll out of the person's vision so they won't see you. This also gives you a stylish multiplier, something I'll talk about soon. Be warned though, as evading one person's sight to fall into another's probably won't end well for you.

So, stylish multiplier. Essentially, as you steal things and avoid people's sight, you can earn stylish points. These points can be redeemed at the trainer in the bathhouse in order to learn new techniques, unlock new disguises, or to purchase licenses. Stylish points can be earned in a number of ways, but most of yours early game will probably come from kicking your loot bag and a few vision dodges here and there. To earn points of kicking your bag, you can choose to try and kick your bag into either the box to either redeem your loot for cash or the box to donate to the people. The further away you are, the more points you get.

Speaking of kicking your bag, the bag itself is a very interesting item. You can't steal anything if you don't have it on hand, and if it gets too big it alerts the guard and townspeople. You can kick it at objects to steal them, or at people to knock them out. You can also drop it and then pull it towards you with a wire. It's interesting for sure, but the bag tends to roll a lot when you don't want it to, and lining up a kick to go where you want it can actually be pretty tough sometimes.

As you go about stealing your way to a healthy daughter, there are a few things you may take notice of. The first is probably that some items are "tougher" to steal than others. To steal, you basically "attack" an item, and some items will have more "health" than others. Good news though, the more you try and steal things, your level will increase, making stealing easier! This level will also carry over to new game plus, which is handy. The second thing you'll probably be curious about is the licenses available from the trainer. These have special requirements, and must be in your inventory in order to complete. Once complete however, they give you a permanent passive buff, such as a 10% increase in time it takes for people to spot you. These can be tough, but are also a good way at getting you familiar with some of the game's mechanics.

As a thief, never forget your preparation. You can change your disguise and bag to your liking, increasing the stats associated with your thievery job. New disguises and bags will become available as you continue paying your tribute to the boss, so don't neglect your daily dues. Even if you can't afford new equipment, don't worry too much. Kamiwaza features an autosave system, where every time you make a map transition the game autosaves. This means if you bungle a mission too badly, you can simply return to the title screen to try again by loading the autosave data. Super handy for some of the licenses, by the way.

Kamiwaza: Way of the Thief is a fun title, but you do need to remember that it's a remaster of the PS2 game, and the graphics really show it. It looks like a PS2 game, it feels like a PS2 game, but I'm still really glad they finally brought an official translation to North America. The story tends to be equal parts wacky and compelling, the gameplay is smoother than I expected, and the missions you take are generally short enough that botching one isn't worth hours of work down the drain, which is a lifesaver to your sanity. The method of storyline progression however is…weird, I suppose. Basically, you will encounter cutscenes when you enter certain areas and fulfill certain conditions. Pro tip, the Gaigasaki Manor "storeroom" is the area off the entrance to the left on the map, not the back right corner. That took me a few real life days to figure out…

Overall, Kamiwaza: Way of the Thief is a really fun game. Really niche, yes, but also really fun. The stealth aspect is pretty fun, and the stylish points earned through your actions are an interesting take. The gameplay loop is pretty easy to get, allowing you to hop right in to your thieving ways, and you will probably find yourself easily racking up mission after mission.

While this may be a re-release of an old PS2 title, it has aged surprisingly well, if not in graphics then in gameplay. It's fun and quirky, and I definitely suggest you give it at least a chance.

Score: 8 / 10



Post a Comment

Random posts

Our Streamers

Susan "Jagtress" N.

S.M. Carrière

Louis aka Esefine



JenEricDesigns – Coffee that ships to the US and Canada

JenEricDesigns – Coffee that ships to the US and Canada
Light, Medium and Dark Roast Coffee available.

Blog Archive