Please note this is only a review in progress: I prefer to finish games before finalizing a review whenever reasonably possible, and the end of Nioh seems far away even after 20+ hours of gameplay (It’s rumored to be 40-70 hours in length). I aim to finish it before Nioh comes out next week, but for now, these are the impressions it has left me with.
Nioh is really, really, really, really good. Like GOTY good.
Team Ninja has done a phenomenal job making Nioh feel like a mix of their past work with Ninja Gaiden blended in with Dark Souls and The Witcher 3.
Nioh takes place in the Sengoku period of Japan before the country’s unification by Tokugawa Leyasu. War and bloodshed have ravished the land, and Yokai (demons and ghosts) have started appearing. Nioh tells the story of westerner William (Based on the real William Adams) who is imprisoned and left for dead in the Tower of London. While trapped in his undies a Guardian Spirit appears to him and helps guide him to freedom. Shortly after breaking out of his cell, and clearing the tower a mysterious stranger captures his guardian spirit and flees before William can capture him. William then sets out on a two-year journey to Japan where a massive war for control of the country is underway in pursuit of the man who stole his guardian spirit.
Thus far, I haven’t found Nioh as challenging as Dark Souls but I do feel it improves greatly on the mechanics laid out by the Souls games. On the surface, it looks like a Souls game, but it’s quite different under the hood. Nioh is a much more strategic title when it comes to combat, forcing you to study your opponents moves and not rush into battle. The combat can be changed on the fly via your fighting stance, high stance, mid stance, and low stance.
High stance deals the most damage but drains a lot of your ki (stamina).
Mid stance is a great balance of power and speed
Low stance is the weakest of the three but is light on ki and allows you to really jab at your opponent.
Mastering the difference stances will keep you from dying so I’d advise learning them as soon as possible on the more low-level enemies.
On top of hacking, slashing and dodging Nioh is packed full of different skills called Onmyo (magic) and Ninjutsu.
Leveling up works pretty much the exact same way as it does in Souls. Defeated enemies leave Amrita, which you can use to level up your character one stat at a time. Checkpoints are shown as shrines that allow you to trade in unwanted weapons and armor in exchange for Amrita which you can then use to level up.
One of the best parts of Nioh is the loot system. I wouldn’t be surprised to see games copy this down the line. Weapons and armor are everywhere and you can end up with a boat load of stuff quick. To make it easy to sort each piece of equipment has a rarity attached to by the various colors represented in your equipments name.
Pink = Rare
White = Common
You have to pay a lot of attention to your armor as each piece has different attribute bonuses which make them weaker than the game tells you.
I haven’t yet had a chance to check out Nioh’s online features, but I’m very curious to see how the co-op pans out.
The only thing so far I could knock about the game is the graphics can range from absolutely gorgeous to pretty bland. It’s not the prettiest game, but it makes up for it with its lightning fast load times. I wasn’t afraid to die because I could be back in the game in about two seconds. It’s a huge achievement, as most of the levels are pretty big.
I still have much to see and do and I’m going go get back to it now. Unless Nioh pulls a Final Fantasy XV and goes to shit, which I don’t think it will, then this is an absolutely must buy game. I’ve loved every minute of this game so far, and don’t find myself getting mad when I’m dying over and over. The combat is certainly tough but it’s fair and I like the challenge.
Look out for my full video review Monday, February 6th.