Koei Tecmo and Team NINJA released the alpha demo for the upcoming action-RPG game, Nioh. Much like the unforgiving Souls Games (Demon Souls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne), Nioh adapts the “ready to die” concept. Nioh applies the fundamental gameplay mechanics of the Souls games to a different narrative and setting. In the age of the samurai, a lone traveler named William (Geralt much?) lands on the shores of Japan. He must fight his way through the land infested by demons called Yokai and vicious warriors.
Much like the Souls games, a single hit from an enemy will deplete a big chunk of your character’s health, if not all of it. Stamina management is crucial for success because without enough stamina, you cannot successfully attack or dodge. More similar to Bloodborne, dodging around and aggressively attacking an enemy is more effective than blocking. There are shrines in Nioh that act like bonfires in the Souls games, allowing you to level up, replenish health and hit points. The distribution of stats you level up are almost identical to the Souls games. If you die, you lose all of your Amrita (souls) and to recover your lost Amrita, you need to go back to the location you died and pick it up. If you die again before recovering your lost Amrita, you will lose it forever. There are shortcuts you can unlock between shrine checkpoints.
You can summon players to help you in your world by offering a small ceramic cup of sake called Ochoko, to the shrine. Once you do this, the game will continue to search for players as you progress. Unlike the Souls games, players will stay in your world even if you die, creating less down time waiting for cooperative partners. There are red katanas spread around the world that summon powerful NPC’s called Revenants which seem to be the souls of players that died in that area. Another distinctive feature is the stance system which provides a unique play style and ability within the same weapon class. There are three close-combat melee classes available, offering a choice of three weapons including the axe, spear and katana.
In Nioh there is an option to switch between movie mode which runs at 30 fps in 1080p and action mode which runs at 60 fps, but lowers resolution. The visuals are dark, bloody and crisp; especially on movie mode, but I prefer to use action mode for smoother control. My favorite part of Nioh is hands down the dismemberment visuals.
Final Thoughts & Rewards –
Overall Nioh has strong potential and is probably more unforgiving than the Souls games, but not necessarily in a good way. The stamina bar depleted way too fast and one enemy attack chomped off too much of the health bar. If you are close to a wall or any barrier while attacking an enemy, you will hit the barrier instead and not get a single hit on the enemy despite being locked on. This issue sometimes resulted in death because stamina depleted on obstructions rather than on damaging the enemy. Nothing bothered me more than how fast the equipment lost durability. On one hand, I can appreciate a different atmosphere adapting to be a “souls-like” game, while maintaining some individuality in terms of gameplay. On the other hand, part of what makes the Souls games so addicting is that its obstacles make sense and for Nioh some things definitely need tweaking because it’s more annoying than fun. I am toward the end of my journey with Dark Souls 3 and while playing the Nioh demo, I just wanted to get it over with and proceed with Dark Souls 3. Perhaps this timing may have manipulated my judgement but I do hope that some adjustments are made so Nioh can be the start of a quality “souls-like” game.
People may play Nioh looking for Ninja Gaiden and Onimusha components. While the atmosphere is somewhat similar to Ninja Gaiden and Onimusha, the gameplay structure is evidently influenced from the Souls games. FromSoftware’s crushing, yet rewarding nature in the Souls games seems to be creating its own sub-genre, and I am sure Nioh won’t be the last.
Players who complete a stage in the Nioh demo will receive “The Mark of the Conquerer” DLC for free from the Playstation Store. Players can also earn an exclusive Nioh wallpaper for smartphones by completing a survey.
The Nioh demo will be available for free in the Playstation Store from 4/26/2016 – 5/5/2016.
Nioh will release as a Playstation 4 exclusive in 2016 TBA.