Genji: Dawn of the Samurai is a third-person action role-playing game (RPG) set in medieval Japan around the 12th century. At the time, a clan called the Heishi has conquered most of Japan through supernatural means. These means refer to magical stones called the Amahagane which bring supernatural powers (called the Kamui) to the wearers. The hero of this saga is a young man called Yoshitsune, a samurai who also possesses an Amahagane. The game starts when young Yoshitsune is attacked by the Heishi as they are searching for other Amahagane stones. The fate of the world depends on those who controls these magical stones and at that moment, the Heishi seem invincible as they posses most Amahagane. Later in the story, the player acquire a second hero, the giant warrior monk Benkei, who also owns an Amahagane. The story then revolves around the struggles of these two unlikely heroes against the tyranny of the Heishi clan.
Gameplay is standard click-and-slash action. The player may either control Yoshitsune or Benkei in alternating turns. The unique side of this game is the use of the Amahagane, enabling the player unleash powerful blows at the enemy, particularly useful against multiple foes. The more powerful the Amahagane, the slower enemies become when the Amahagane is activated. Timing is of the essence as the player must attack at the exact moment indicated by the game or the move will fail.