Games that are difficult just to be difficult are not my forté. I don’t consider myself enough of a masochist to invest much if any time in them, so this is what I would call an uncommon occurrence. The last game of this nature I played was the first Dark Souls games, and after dying due to a one hit kill from a giant monster in the first big room, I was like; “nope, Q don’t need this level I frustration in his life”. Due to that experience I avoided every following Dark Souls entry as well as Bloodborne.
When I initially saw this title I thought it was just a random samurai themed action game similar to the once famous, but not forgotten, Onimusha series. A game that embodied the essence of the samurai and Japanese mystical culture is what I thought, and after playing it I can confidently say that it is pretty much that. Yes it’s got some of that Souls difficulty that I didn’t fancy, but in a way I feel it’s a bit diluted. I didn’t experience the same level of difficulty spike that that is did in the original Dark Souls game, and who knows it may just be as difficult and I’ve just become a better gamer, but for some reason I doubt that. This is because I found Nioh to be quite manageable, and pretty early too.
By the time felt like I had the basics of the battle system down, I proceeded to farm it as much as I would in a standard JRPG, and in a way I guess you can call it that, a JRPG. It’s made by the Japanese developer Team Ninja, and published by Koei Tecmo, and they’re as Japanese as they come. It’s also got role playing tropes like leveling up, and issuing stat points, along with a setting in ancient Japan. So pretty much a JRPG right? Well, doesn’t really matter, it allows me to grind in an enjoyable way, and I’m oh so happy to oblige. By the time I defeated the first real boss I was three times the level the game recommended to complete the stage, and oh did it feel good to smack him into submission.
You see this was a boss who had defeated me numerous times. His horribly disfigured face seemingly mocking me with a stupidly impossible smile as he killed my character over and over and over, but never did it feel cheap, and this is what I believe fans of games like Dark Souls understood all these years while I didn’t. Every Time I was defeated I felt like it was my fault. Either I didn’t tap the dodge button quickly enough, or maybe I’m just not timing my attacks as I should. In essence it was always my fault for not being good or patient enough, not the game’s. I’ve heard people mentioned similar things about the Souls games, but I didn’t experience it myself until I played this game.
The version of Nioh I played for the review was the PC version, and it ran pretty well considering that my system is one that most would consider mid-range. The frame-rate of the game ranged between 53 and 60 on average for me. In darker lit areas, and when locked on to enemies it was perfect, but when moving around the map or in brightly lit areas it would fluctuate. I didn’t find this too bad given that I was running the game on it’s highest settings, so should I have desired better performance I could have just lowered it a bit. Visually the game was stunning. I don’t think there’s much more I can say than that. Just look at the game play below and decide if you agree or not.
As for the controls, they’re simple, and every button press feels immediate, even for slower weapons like the Axes and hammers. I’ve heard mention that there is no official keyboard support for this title, however I couldn’t conceive why someone would want to play a game like this with a keyboard in the first place, not that it shouldn’t have the option for those outside my conception, but if you really want it I’m sure there are unofficial options, though if you don’t have a controller I would recommend sitting this one out.
As for the game’s plot, Hmmm… let’s see, Its nothing much to write about. It’s a plot so that the player can have a reason to fight evil. It’s got some moments that got my attention like every second the beautiful Okatsu was on screen, but that’s just because I’ve already waifu’d her, and so according to the waifu guide book, subsection 4, paragraph 6, and I quote;
the waifu must always be adored whenever in her presence
On a more serious note, The story’s setting is a dark fantasy version of the Japanese Warring States Period. The years of strife of the period have caused Yokai to come out of hiding, ravaging the land. The protagonist is William Adams, a Western samurai with “raging blond hair and deepest blue eyes” who fights against demons and specters. As you play you will experience his cutthroat life by the sword, as he journeys in a foreign land.
The game is broken up into a stages that can be completed once unlocked, and repeated if you wish to grind as I did. Between stages you can train, take on side missions, forge new tools, buy equipment, and more. The amount of customization is almost infinite, and I can’t believe I have to say this, but you don’t get random loot boxes that have become the norm in the industry these days. Everything you need is already in the game and its just single player goodness for the most part. There are only few multiplayer aspect like the dead bodies of fallen players that can be batted at your own leisure throughout each stage.
Nioh is one of the best games I’ve played this year, and easily one of my favorite titles of this generation. It’s got that Onimusha feel with modern gorgeous graphics, accompanied by a fair but tough battle system, as well as a theme and setting that I’m a big fan of. The game is one that I think players that like tough but rewarding games should consider getting. As for everyone else, well you should consider getting it too, but that’s only if it sounds like something you may enjoy.
The copy of Nioh: Complete Edition used for this review was provided to us by it’s publisher Koei Tecmo.