Straight from the beginning you can tell Nioh resembles the Dark Souls series in many ways from straight out level design to the beastly tough as nails foes you will constantly find yourself up against. However just because it shares a similarity does not mean what has been delivered here isn’t unique in its own way.
Nioh comes to us from Team ninja, the team behind the Dead or alive series and Ninja Gaiden. The combat is at times slow depending on your weapons of choice. It feels like a combination of intense 3rd person action and a fighting series with its various combos which turn out to be an excellent concoction. A lot of people who are fans of Ninja Gaiden and the Dark Souls series will immediately fall in love with this title.
You have 3 fighting stances, high, mid and low. Which helps to change things up so it helps in that aspect to beat away any boredom you may come across, they also help with the level of damage you will put out, just remember they also affect your stamina. Speaking of you also have a stamina bar that you need to keep an eye on that can be levelled up via shrines that help you level up. You can also unlock other fighting styles and combos to help aid you in the fight.
Character progression menu and level design feel almost identical at times, but with its own unique style and feeling. You spend a lot of time completing missions of sorts in the broken up sections defeating bandits, demons and large beast like monsters. To help fight these enemies you find items, weapons and armor from defeating enemies. They drop loot and these can help you in battle. Be aware though that some types of armor can affect how heavy you are and can slow you down in battle and ultimately consume your stamina, making weapon swinging somewhat difficult.
Stamina or KI as it is known here in Nioh plays a big part. Certain moments in battle give you small opportunities to recover KI, successfully trigger the right actions in battle and you will get back some KI which will help you to strike another blow, which depending on the conditions could see you win during the fight.
Nioh occasionally dishes out a lot of gear and weapons during various loot drops from defeated enemies. These can be sold or customized to help with different enemies you may come across. With the loot you earn, this can be dismantled down into base materials which can then be applied to other weapons and gear. If upgrading is not your style, you can sell these items for cash instead or offer it as a tribute at a shrine to earn extra experience. Each weapon also has bonus effects and you can take these to the forge after unlocking the blacksmith and your weapons bonuses can be changed. Guardian spirits act like super moves to help you in more difficult situations that you come across so it is usually best to wait to use them when you have no other option.
Level design is impressive here. Certain sections of a stage can also affect how you’ve been playing, as some require you to navigate your way over cliffs with small paths or through flood washed towns that see you walking over planks of wood. One wrong step and you could sink to the bottom of the ocean, so it makes you have to change up your fighting style to compliment the level design. There is no hub world here and more of a map where you pick locations to battle in. Each area of course filled to the brim with monsters and human enemies to combat against. These mapped out levels seem to come across as obstacle courses at times.
Graphics and Sound
Nioh is a beautiful game that shows off many different kinds of levels so you are never stuck looking at the same scenery over and over again. Creatures and humans are all unique while some soldiers and bandits of course being the exception as you come up against them a lot. Most of the beasts are diverse, however by the time you get to the end of the game you will find yourself up against similar looking enemies that you’ve fought before but now with different upgrades of sorts to change their looks.
Nioh’s soundtrack is more of a samurai battle style theme than a dark weary soundtrack that you’d find on a similar title like Dark Souls. The main character is an English speaking sailor so no silent protagonist here. Some of the other characters speak other languages as well which is accompanied by subtitles. Also thanks to the sounds of the world I found myself being aware of an enemy due to sound of footsteps and hearing grass and branches crush beneath their feet. Fantastic sound work here as well, with the voice work being hit and miss at times.
While showing a lot of attributes similar to that of the Dark Souls series, Nioh still holds its own and walks its own path. But it clearly owes a lot to Dark Souls, but because of that and the way Team Ninja put their own spin on it, Nioh walks a new path all on its own.
For anyone that is a fan of the Souls series I highly recommend you grab this game. Nioh is a title that tests my skills as a gamer and for that I love it.