This article will be discussing Nioh. It may contain spoilers for some areas of the game.
Nioh is the story of William, the first ever “Western Samurai”, taking place in a fictitious version of the civil war within Japan during the early 1600s. Countless Yõkai (demonic spirits) begin to appear after high death tolls erupt across the land which combined with enemy forces provides for a daunting experience. We follow William and his Spirit Guardian on their journey to save Amrita from the clutches of evil and to cleanse the land of the nefarious Yõkai!
Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment JP: Koei Tecmo
Release Date: NA February 7th, 2017
Price: $60 USD
*This is a review in progress. The game was not beaten at the time of this review.
Focusing on the complex hack and slash aspects within an Action-RPG setting, Nioh delivers an “over the top” experience that is coupled with a steep learning curve. The player progresses through different missions, set in enclosed environments. You will be fighting not only human foes and Revenants (hostile ghosts based off fallen players,) but also supernatural entities called yokai. This title is a well-balanced mix of Bloodborne and Darksouls, tied together with a Japanese theme. The player is given options that will cater to their playstyle, but they are free to use any gear and weapon they choose (though those skills may not compliment a weapon outside of their initial choice.)
Following a basic attack and guard system, the player is able to perform light and heavy attacks in a Top, Mid and Low stance that will provide different styles of attacks and combos. Guarding and rolling will prove to be essential, as will baiting enemies into attacks. The player can also utilize a bow and/or gun to snipe enemies from afar, and use different items (such as bombs, items that harm yokai and even items that add elemental forces to weapons) to aid in combat. Depending on the gear and weapon type, the player may move sluggishly or at a faster pace, which has a noticeable impact during battles. Though the experience may prove to be harder for some, the way this title is played is up to the player.
Different Regions will have alternate routes to the main objective as well as sub-missions and checkpoints called “Shrines” sprinkled throughout the level to provide brief sanctuary for the player. Shrines are not only the gathering place for the Kodama the player finds on their journey but also the area in which the player can do any of the following:
- Level Up – The player will gain Amrita from combat, completing title requirements, offering equipment and more. Should the player die, they will be given one chance to collect their Guardian Spirit at their grave before it disappears forever. With every level the player gains, they will get points to increase different stats of their choice.
- Call Back – Should the player die, they will be able to manually go collect their Guardian Spirit at the site of their grave as well as all the Amrita that was lost upon death. If the player chooses to avoid having to collect the Guardian Spirit themselves they can call it back but all the items and Amrita will be lost during this process.
- Make Offering – The player can offer items at a Shrine to collect Amrita for unwanted items. Offering a select amount will grant gifts and even will unlock different Titles.
- Ready Jutsu – The player can select different Jutsus and the proper equipment to aid in combat. Ninjutsu and Onmyo Magic are the two different categories the player can choose from.
- Summon Visitor – By offering an Ochoko Cup, the player can summon another person for co-operative gameplay.
- Receive Kodama Blessing – The player can select different blessings from the Kodama they find, depending on how many of the blessing they choose will decide on the multiplier in which it’s applied at. The Blessing available upon finding that Kodama are the following: Oracle (Amrita amount increase), Swordsman (increased weapon drops), Warrior (increase armor drops), Healer (increased elixir drops) and Hunter (increase material drops).
- Change Guardian Spirit – This option will allow the player to change their Guardian Spirit which affects the living weapon the player will have when their Spirit bar is filled and used.
The Single Player:
In an effort to keep the story spoiler free I will keep this section light. The player assumes the role of a Western Samurai set during a civil war in Japan in the early 1600’s. The player is tasked with clearing the different regions of demonic forces called Yõkai that appear throughout the level. What started out as revenge against the main antagonist, Edward Kelley, becomes a journey of trial and tribulations.
The Multiplayer, for now, is just pertaining to summoning companions. This mode will only allow for one player to join your game as well as offering two different types of summoning. To summon help from a stranger the player will need to go to a shrine, select the Summon Visitor option and how many ochoko cups they would like to offer. In order to play with a friend, the player will need to go to the main map, click on the base icon and then Torrii Gate. After that, simply choose Yokai Realm with A Companion and the two players will be able to play, presuming one person has beaten the level previously.
Since I wasn’t able to complete this game, I felt giving it a score would be unjust. With that said, I can still give my thoughts on the game’s atmosphere and the content that I have played.
Learning the various enemy battle animations was simple trial and error, and at most times I could easily bait them into any direction I chose. The Boss battles were entirely different, the difficulty spike was unforgiving ,and for many players proved to be a challenge that required summoning a friend to help. In most cases, the player is required to learn not only the Boss’ entire move set, but also the battle animations and pre-emptive body gestures in order to be successful. The way the leveling system is crafted and the seemingly endless amounts of armor/weapon combinations truly allows for an in-depth personal feeling while playing. Though different methods may be needed to overcome a challenge, ultimately the player will decide how the battle goes.
- Beautifully detailed environments
- In-depth customizations
- A challenging experience
- Fluidity within weapon changing, even during battle.
- Huge difficulty spikes with little reward
- Minor issues with combat such as lagged responses and combo inputs glitching
- The Bats — seriously how frustrating can you make a single animal?
Below is the official trailer for Nioh!