You are Ichi—blind masseur, lonesome wanderer, deadly swordsman. You long for a life of peace, but wherever you go, you inevitably find yourself drawn into violent conflict. Will you pursue justice, defending the oppressed and downtrodden from corrupt politicians and ruthless yakuza? Or will you follow the path of the mercenary, selling your blade to the highest bidder at the expense of your soul? The choice is yours.
All foes fear your flashing blade. Fluid, responsive swordplay is easy to learn, but difficult to master. Carve your way through small armies of lowlife criminal scum to increase your power and unlock new styles and combos. Then, test your skills against the deadliest ronin in all the land, including a few legendary historical figures.
Your reputation precedes you. Do you treat your underworld bosses with the scorn they deserve and risk alienating future employers—or, worse, incurring their wrath? Do you treat your fellow commoners as equals, or do you ignore their desperate cries for help, as though their day-to-day struggles are none of your concern? Your interactions with NPCs shape your overall experience, ensuring that no two play-throughs are identical.
Japan is your sandbox. Like the “real” Zatoichi, your journey never truly ends. Instead of an overarching narrative, the game presents a series of adventures scattered across a sprawling map, to be discovered at the player’s leisure. And if you should ever tire of the bloodshed, you can always gamble, play the biwa, and even sumo wrestle (to name just a few of the countless mini-games) in order to earn extra money or improve your reputation.
The darkness is your ally. On this long, winding, lawless road, a man is free to choose his own path. Choose yours wisely, wanderer.
[Originally written November 11, 2103.]