Nioh – Impressions

Nioh, an action-packed combat-filled samurai game exclusive to the PS4 (and PS4 Pro), finally releases on February 7th. Finally is an appropriate term, given that the game’s lengthy development has lasted for over a decade, but since Nioh has gathered a reputation as samurai Dark Souls, it would seem that developer Team Ninja have set their sights fairly high.

Stated as taking inspiration from games such as Dark Souls and Ninja Gaiden, it comes as no surprise that high difficulty looks set to be a prominent aspect of Nioh. This became painfully apparent when I tried my hand with the Nioh: Last Chance Trial which offered a final, albeit brief, opportunity to test out the game before release. With the standard edition of Nioh available now on the PlayStation Store for £54.99, it seemed smart to indulge in the demo to find out if it will be my kind of game.

Does it? The short answer is no. But, that’s not because the game looks sub-par or lacks substance. In truth, Nioh looks set to be a challenging and lengthy experience with a lot to offer. The similarities to Dark Souls, of which there are quite a few, aren’t by any means a drawback but serve instead as a reminder of the kind of experience and calibre Nioh may be striving to reproduce. Games like Ninja Gaiden, Dark Souls and Bloodborne are popular because their elevated difficulty appeals to those who like to be challenged, feel a sense of accomplishment and, I assume, have a high tolerance for failure. I, clearly, do not.

From the trial, Nioh looks complex to say the least as the combat system alone is a lot to remember. There are three different combat stances which each offer a different advantage, and it’s highly likely that the key to successful combat is the ability to switch between stances in the middle of a fight. There’s also ‘Ki’, which serves as Nioh’s version of stamina and affects both your character’s and the enemies’ attacks. This, like many aspects of the combat, is centred around timing; if you hit the appropriate button at the right time, you can regain some ‘Ki’. It’s something I regularly forgot to do and seems like it will be crucial in boss battles. This, however, is something I can’t say for sure since I only reached the actual boss area of the first area once, which only occurred after two dozen tries and promising to quit twice.

It’s safe to say Nioh isn’t going to be a game for me since there’s even an added level of difficulty presented in ‘Twilight’ mode…and I died on the first mission in normal mode. A lot.

However, Nioh could well be a stunning game. With guardian spirits, revenants (which seem to be appearances of other players who have died, who you can also fight), extensive item customisation, expansive in-game level maps and some story of which I barely scratched the surface, Nioh feels like a promise of a fulfilling experience. I won’t be experiencing it myself, at least not till it features in a sale, but that’s far more to do with my sometimes abysmal skills as a gamer rather than any fault of the game itself. Oh well, maybe I’ll manage it one day. Until then, those who jump at the chance of a challenge, enjoy!

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