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Nioh Review

Nioh belongs to the ever-growing ‘Souls’ genre, and to me, this game is the best one of the lot (with 2015’s Bloodbourne coming in a close second). You play as William, an Irishman journeying through a dark fantasy version of 1600’s Japan. A war between factions is taking place in which William becomes involved, all the while pursuing an enemy who has stolen William’s spirit guardian Saoirse.

I’ll admit the story was fairly difficult to follow, with all the Japanese names being thrown around, I did sometimes get lost with what was going on. But I did not play this game for its story, I played it for its amazing action and gameplay!

Yokai generally have a demonic aesthetic to them.

If you’ve played a ‘Souls’ game before, or anything else like it, you know what to expect here. The combat is brutal and challenging, but very fair and skilled-based. If you play well and avoid the enemies attacks, while waiting for your chance to strike, you’ll be able to survive each encounter.

If your careless and impatient, you’ll pay dearly for it. I love the balance this game strikes with it all though. Where Bloodbourne was very fast paced and all about evading, and the Souls games being a bit slower, Nioh gets it just right somewhere in the middle.

It easily caters to so many playstyles, whether you want to attack fast but weak, or slow but strong, there’s many different weapons that allow for whatever works for you. To add to that, there’s three different stances to coincide with your playstyle too.

The high stance increases your attack power but drains your Ki (stamina) faster. Dodging and blocking in this stance is also limited, so you may need to be careful with the high stance. The low stance allows you to move faster but will lower your attack power.

The low stance would mainly be used for escaping tough situations. The mid stance is a combination of both, striking a balance between good attack and defense. I used this stance the whole way through my time with this game.

At shrines you can recover your health, level up, and receive Kodama blessings.

To make this genre even better, this game has loot! Not just items, but tiered gear too, just to add more depth and addictiveness to an already fun game. Every time you defeat an enemy, whether it be an ordinary enemy or boss, scavenging their dropped loot is always fun.

Then when you have some breathing space, scrolling through what you’ve picked up to see if it’ll raise your stats, is always an exciting moment. There’s quite a lot to consider when equipping new gear. Do you go for higher defense? Higher elemental defense?

There’s plenty of other perks gear can contain, so deciding what you want will vary from player to player.

There is a lot of different types of gear to equip- each with their own perks and advantages.

Nioh may not have the strong atmosphere that previous games in this genre has, but it makes up for it in its great locations. There are villages, battlefields, forests, temples, and more. Who doesn’t love the look and style of ancient Japanese temples?

The enemies also look amazing too! Known as Yokai, these enemies ranges from small demonic heads, to large and powerful ogres. Each of them bring their own unique attacks and strategies you’ll have to learn to get through them.

Facing them one at a time is always preferable, but occasionally you’ll have to face multiple enemies, and prioritizing will be important as battles can get chaotic. I personally like to take out the smaller, weaker foes first so I can concentrate on the bigger, stronger foes.

The bosses of course bring a whole other level of challenge. You’ll need to be on your toes from the start to survive the bosses and the battles can feel like an eternity at times. Finally defeating the boss at the end of each level brings that huge sigh of relief, following by joy as you grab all the loot that they dropped.

Boss fights are obviously difficult affairs.

Another thing that separates this game is its level structure, opting for self-contained levels, rather than one continuous world.

I surprisingly really liked this, because I always wanted to complete each level thoroughly and find all its collectibles (love those little Kodamas!) before moving on, which was always very satisfying. I still liked to fully explore other games of this genre, but my exploration never felt complete, which irked me but I never felt that way with Nioh.

This game also has fairly long replay value, with multiple side missions, post game content, and DLC, this game will keep you going for a long time!
Nioh’s difficulty is always going to put people off, but if you love these sorts of games, you must play this one!

Score: 9.5/10


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