Way of the Samurai 3 is developer Acquire's first title for the PlayStation 3 (or Xbox 360). The series, perhaps worthy of being called a cult hit, is known for its "choose-your-own-adventure" style of branching storylines through gameplay. This game includes 22 different endings, and you can pursue many other objectives that don't even involve seeing any of them. A single playthrough can last anywhere from a little less than an hour to, well, however long you want to mess around without triggering the main story events.
You begin by creating your own character from what is at first a very limited palette of heads and outfits. More are unlocked by earning "samurai points," which more or less track how honorably your character acts through multiple playthroughs, but the array of customization isn't mind-blowing compared to many games today. Accessories purchased in the game allow for more satisfying customization, but it is somewhat irritating to be forced into playing a nearly default character for your first playthrough or two.
The opening scene shows your samurai, nearly dead, stumbling through a battlefield as two peasants come upon him. You are given your first dialogue choice here, and it already has an effect on how the story will play out for you in the future. Even beyond regular dialogue choices, you are able to draw your sword in the middle of most cutscenes, immediately initiating combat, or prostrate yourself in front of whoever you're talking to. Both of these features are irritating, however, because while the majority of the time they serve to effectively skip cutscenes, there are sometimes necessary at very specific moments to twist the story to a specific ending.
The story which opens after the first cutscene revolves around various factions in Amana during the Sengoku period in Japanese history. Local clan rivalries are coming to a head as rumors surface that Nobunaga Oda is preparing to invade. You may represent the Fujinori clan, the current establishment running things; the Ouka clan, who hope to restore the popularly beloved Sakurai clan that formerly ruled the town; and the simple farmers and villagers. It's not nearly as simple as simply choosing one clan and going with it, however. There are tons of interactions within each group, and it is completely possible to end up running one clan, or betraying one at the last moment, or any other number of possible twists.
If you approach the story seriously, it provides for some very immersive role-play, and on several occasions I found that I actually felt very conflicted at certain dialogue choices in which I had to choose between an honorable death and a chance at continuing the game further. I chose to start every game with a different character in mind, and every possibility is allowed from the most cowardly (including just leaving town and ending the game at any point) to the most honorable.