Let me start off by saying this, Nioh is the real deal. The folks over at Team Ninja have something special on their hands and I can’t wait to play the full game. Being labeled a Dark Souls clone from its onset, I was already intrigued. Any game that has the same type of gameplay style as a Souls game I’m in for. Nioh has a completely different aesthetic as the Souls series with Nioh being Japanese inspired whereas Souls games take on a gothic theme which I find refreshing. After spending the weekend playing Nioh’s Last Chance demo, I have a much better idea of what the game brings.
When I first dove into Nioh, I messed around with the tutorial which shows you the basic commands and allows you to get a little familiar with how the game plays. Though similar to a Souls game, the only things that are really similar are the way the map is one connected area, the intimate nature of battles, and, of course, the difficulty. Nioh brings a lot of new interesting things to the table.
One feature Nioh has that distinguishes it from its contemporaries is the ability to switch fighting stances. By holding R1 and pressing one of the face buttons, players switch from a low, mid, and high stance. This opens up a number of combat possibilities. It reminds me of how in Mortal Kombat X each character comes with three different styles you can choose from giving more options on how to play the game. It’s the same idea with each stance being useful against different enemies. The low stance features rapid strikes and makes the player agiler allowing for quicker dodging. The mid stance will definitely be the main stance that many players will start off with. It provides a good balance of agility and damage. The high stance, you might’ve guessed, is very high on damage. Of course, high damage usually comes at the cost of maneuverability so act accordingly. Why it may be tempting to just stick with one stance, you will need to somewhat master the art of seamlessly switching through styles and learning what stances work best against different enemies. This will come through practice, though.
Another feature that I think complements the combat very well is called a Ki Pulse. Action RPGs usually have a stamina bar that players have to be mindful of when doing energy spending activities usually like sprinting and combat. When your stamina depletes, you usually have to stop doing the action in order to regain it back. Nioh introduces a way for you to quickly regain lost stamina by Ki Pulsing. As you perform strikes, a blue mist forms around the player. Once the strikes are done, the blue mist comes together around the character and by pressing R1 at the right moment you regain your lost stamina which allows you to perform combos in rapid succession. Again, correctly timing the Ki Pulses are crucial to combat and takes practice to learn.
The last feature that I found very useful and distinguishing was the use of guardian spirits. Guardian spirits protect the player’s grave after death so you can regain your Amirita, similar to souls in the Souls series. When activated, they also provide the player with a Living Weapon. When you activate guardian spirits, you increase your attack power, imbue your weapon with the element of your chosen guardian spirit, and you are invulnerable to damage. Activating the guardian has a time limit though so it’s best used against tougher opponents.
Nioh is bringing fresh ideas to the table and seems to be utilizing the best qualities of its inspirations. The game is still hard as hell and the boss fights are as intimidating as the Souls series but this will definitely be more accessible. Nioh as all the makings to be a huge hit and after PlayStation wafted on the Souls series with Demon Souls, PlayStation has seemed to learn their lesson and are putting the proper support behind it. If you are a PS4 owner, then this is a must play.
Are you excited about Nioh? Did you play the Last Chance demo and want to share your experiences? Let me know in the comments. Remember to subscribe and share.