Nioh: First Impressions

Nioh is a PlayStation 4 exclusive game developed by Team Ninja and is scheduled to be published by Koei Tecmo in 2016. However, Koei Tecmo was kind enough to release an Alpha demo of the game. The demo was released April 26, 2016, and will end on May 5, 2016. For any and all curious about the game I would highly suggest downloading and playing it before the May 5th cut off. It also comes with the added bonus of if you beat it you get DLC for the game when it comes out. The Dark Souls/Onimusha inspired game leans a whole lot more heavily on the Dark Souls part. If I didn’t know any better, I would have guessed this was a From Software game that would eventually be titled Samurai Souls. I played it for about an hour or so and here’s what I’ve noticed.

The Story so Far…

The story is a big question mark. From what I’ve read about the game online it is loosely based on an unfinished script written by Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai/Yojimbo), so if that is any indication of the quality of the story: I have no doubt it will be good at the very least. The demo starts with your character waking up in a dingy and washing up on shore. He soon finds himself battling samurai, bandits, and monsters. It appears Team Ninja is taking the From Software approach to storytelling: letting you figure out what’s going on through context and coming to your own conclusions. Since this is an Alpha Demo after all, it could all be changed by the games release. Side note: Has anyone else noticed the main character looks an awful like Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher? I’m going to need someone to work on a fan theory that connects both game universes please.

Dark Souls with a little Onimusha sprinkled in

The comparisons to Onimusha are only skin deep. The only things Nioh and Onimusha have in common are: Takes place in a feudal Japan-like land, has Samurai, and you fight monsters. That’s about it. The Dark Souls Comparison is much more apt. Copied or stolen seems a little harsh, so I’ll go with inspired by; and Nioh is inspired by Dark Souls all over the place. So if you’ve ever played a Souls game it’s clear what to expect from Nioh.

You have your standard health and stamina bar, but the stamina bar comes with an added wrinkle. In Nioh when your stamina by gets all the way down, you can’t move for a very brief moment because you have to rest and charge up. At least in Dark Souls you can still move around. This lead to many of my deaths in the game. The good thing is this also effects the enemies. If they over exert themselves they stop and you can just thrash them. The “souls” you collect disappear in death and have to be recollected at the spot of death. The bonfire equivalent in Nioh are shrines you pray at. This is where you can level up, make offering to get more “souls”, learn new techniques. Praying at shrines heals you and restocks your health, but also re-spawns enemies.

The game play is much faster than Dark Souls. I’d say it’s also faster than Bloodborne. Which is something I like. You still have to think when fighting enemies. You can’t just rush in and expect to kill everything. If you do, you will die. You get a dash/dodge button which adds to the speed of the game and if you double tap dash you can roll. There is a heavy attack button and normal attack button, but you also get stances that you can switch on the fly. You get a Low stance, normal stance, and high stance. The low stance is quick, but lacks power. The normal stance give you medium speed and damage. The high stance gives you low speed but high damage. You also get a special attack when you collect enough “souls” to unleash devastating attacks.

Nioh so far has been a very delightful surprise. I know that I will be getting this game when it comes out. I dig the Souls series and this is just more of that. I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment. Also an important feature of the game to note is Team Ninja has included the features Movie mode and Action Mode. Movie mode makes the demo run at a higher resolution at the cost of frame rate, and Action Mode stabilizes the frame rate at the cost of resolution. This is a feature more games should try to include in there games. When the PS Neo comes out it may become a standard. The thing to keep in mind is remember this is just a demo. A lot can change from here till the game is released in full. With that in mind: What does everyone think of the demo? Looking forward to the game? Is it too “soulsy” for everyone? let me know in the comments below.


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