Nioh Feels Like A Samurai Take On A Souls Game

Nioh is an upcoming Playstation 4 exclusive that blends aspects of Dark Souls, Onimusha and even a little Genji: Days of the Blade to create a fast paced hack and slash game. The game is currently hosting an open beta. A perfect chance for some samurai action! Many games boast about their difficulty, but Nioh is one of the few times I've felt truly fragile in an action game. Most enemies can be dealt with using some confident dodging and aggressive attacks, but the slightest mistake is punished heavily. A light nick from a peasant's sword can bring you to death's door and woe be to any would-be swordmaster who thinks they can take on more than a few enemies at once.

This sense of danger only makes the combat more exciting. It's not breaking new ground, but there's something incredibly satisfying to be found in the various ways you can sneak around an opponent and behead them with a few quick slashes. The outer edges of Nioh feel rough. An unwieldy interface and somewhat stilted animations can make the game feel unrefined. Luckily, the combat itself is devilishly tactical and draws your attention. What stance do I use? When do I guard? How well can I time a button press and get some stamina back? There's a lot of in the moment decisions that keep you focused on the play itself.

Nioh has a strange history to it that you might never notice from playing it. Early in development, it was going to be based on an unfinished script by legendary film director Akira Kurosawa titled Oni. In 2004, Koei collaborated with Kurosawa's son Hisao to work on a film version as well as the game. At some point development faltered and was only continued when Team Ninja picked it up again in 2010. The end result is Nioh.

It's hard to say what connections Nioh might have to Oni any more, but it does have connection to history. The player character is an extremely fictitious take on William Adams. Adams was an English sailor who landed in Japan during the exciting Sengoku Period and went on to become a samurai. He's an interesting fellow although there's no record of him fighting zombies, demons or giant enemy crabs.

Folks who grit their teeth and complete the beta will unlock some DLC content titled "Marks of the Strong". I have no clue what that means because I keep getting beat up by angry dudes with naginata, but I'm certain that plenty of brave readers will fight their way to the end.

Overall, I'm curious about Nioh and had a decent time learning the combat system. There's definitely refinements to be made; the game feels a bit stiff and might even be a bit too cruel early on if this beta is any indication. Each time I made progress felt like a huge achievement and offered new challenges to be conquered. There's no official release date but when the time comes, I'll be very excited to pick up my katana and stare down the enemy.


    Played this during one of the open beta's they had. It was a tonne of fun but did seem a bit unpolished (as you would expect with a beta). Will probably be picking it up on release.

    I played the first alpha demo and sort of bounced off the cluttered interface and loot/equipment system. I'll be giving this one a go though in the hopes that it's more like a game I can have fun with rather than constantly having to worry about swapping equipment and looting everything.

    I was pleasantly surprised by the previous beta demo, but a bit let down when I saw the feedback and planned changes.

    In particular, once alerted, the enemies used to chase you until you killed them or vice versa. Now they are stumped to the old mechanic of losing interest when they hit an invisible wall.

    I don't mind it when it's a core mechanic, in from the start. But in this case it feels like a perfectly acceptable and realistic response was dumped, making the human NPC's even less realistic in comparison.

      It might not be realistic, but it was a pain to bump into some unseen enemy and then have them chase you endlessly. It was cool and nerve wracking when it happened the first time, not so cool when you've fought them 30 times and just want to make your way.

      All the things they patched were all the problems I initially had with the game in alpha. Keen to check out the beta.

        So the focus should have been on expanding the strategic aspects.

        -Some enemies can drop down levels, some can't
        -Some need to stop for breath, others walks, others sprint
        -Status changing attacks, trips, throws, pushes
        That would allow for practical and strategic positioning and splitting of groups.

        I dunno, I like to see things moving forward, not backward. To me, a humanoid who displayed realistic behaviours, but now doesn't, is a backward step.

        Last edited 25/08/16 12:24 pm

    Probably put about 12 hours into the first beta and loved every minute of it. Really looking forward to this game.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now