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Rise of the Ronin


Release Date

ESRB Rating




Bob Hoose

Game Review

Rise of the Ronin is an action-adventure game for PlayStation 5. The game gives players a very sharp sword, some throwing stars and other weapons, and then turns them loose to hack and slash their way through 19th century Japan.

The action gets up and running in 1853, near the end of Japan’s Edo period—when the power of the fearful Shogunate is beginning to wane. And with that gap, Western influence is slipping into the feudal Japanese way of life. But in spite of the benefits of inflowing trade and advanced weaponry, some factions—such as the Veiled Edge assassin clan—that are pushing back against the Black Ship Westerners.

Gamers play as a male or female samurai-like assassin. This skilled sword-handler initially works with a “Blade Twin” partner until a horrible event appears to kill that trusted comrade. The player’s initial quest is to leave the clan and seek revenge, or at least discover if there’s any chance of their friend’s survival. And as the game proceeds, the assassin comes to realize that his or her choices may actually impact this changing world. 

Through a long-running series of side quests, dialogue choices and sword battles, gamers have the option of supporting the Shogunate or bolstering the efforts of the rebellious opposition. The historically based core story asks players to make decisions that affect the overall timeline and outcome.

For all of that background story, however, it’s the swordfights that keep gamers invested in Rise of the Ronin. Those clashing battles require skill and patience.

Players progressively gain different weapons and combat techniques, and they must switch among those varied elements to best matchup against the skillsets of their foes. Switching combat styles; incorporating items such as throwing stars and a grapple hook; and mastering the games combos in the midst of frantic fights are a must.

Rise of the Ronin lets gamers team up with AI companions in-game and offers multiplayer co-op play with up to two friends. There are no player-versus-player battle options at this point.


This is an open-world game that immerses players in an expansive rendition of feudal Japan and its political struggles. So gamers can glean a bit of history (seen through the lens of a fictional story) and info about real historical figures.

Though Rise of the Ronin’s hero starts as a revenge-seeking assassin, he can choose to help others during the journey. The game also offers easy, normal and difficult settings in case players want to tweak the rather tough combat one way or the other. In-game training is offered (though, frankly, some of the gaming aspects aren’t always well explained).


Gamers do quite a bit of adventuring here, but this is primarily a very violent combat game. Players use swords, spears, knives, grapplehooks, throwing stars, pistols, and flamethrowers to battle their enemies in abundantly bloody fights. They can also slip silently behind a foe to knife them in the back. Gory gushing, decapitations and dismemberments are all common.   

In-game characters drink saké, and some get drunk. The dialogue contains uses of the s-word and “b–tard.” And while there’s nothing overtly sexual in the story—other than some lustful gazing at a pretty geisha—players can adjust the underwear-clad breast size of their avatars in the initial character-customization menu.


Hacking and slashing is the major, uh, point of this actioner. And it’s an exceedingly gushing point indeed.

Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.