Nioh: Complete Edition is out now for the PC and I was genuinely surprised when I saw that the once-PS4-exclusive title, released in February this year, had been announced for the PC. Literally, the game was announced and then came out around 6 weeks later!
For those not in the know, Nioh is a Dark Souls-like game – hard difficulty level with huge demonic bosses that can occasionally one-hit-kill you if your guard is down! I proceeded to buy it on PS4, shortly after release, but in all honesty, I didn’t really play it too much as I was struggling with all the systems and the tough bosses. I gave up after a few hours play, once I got to the second level where you have to venture into a cave. It was filled with demons (Yokai) and I got sick of getting killed and having to redo everything (I didn’t even find the shrine and shortcut to the boss). I guess I should have played a bit longer and got used to the game’s numerous systems. I think I was a bit tapped out from Dark Souls III & Bloodborne at the time, however.
Nioh uses historical person William Adams as the main character in the game, loosely based on his life during feudal Japan during the early 1600s. At the time, he was a Westerner who became a Shogun and owned land in Japan with his wife and children. It is an interesting read and worth checking out the inspiration for the game.
You can tell Nioh is heavily inspired by From Software’s various games, from Demon’s Souls right through to Bloodborne. However, it is its own game and is more like Team Ninja’s Ninja Gaiden series with a bit of Bloodborne thrown in for good measure!
The combat is where Nioh is similar to Bloodborne: fast-paced and you have to watch your stamina (Ki) or you’ll find yourself staggered and unable to move. A great thing, though, is you’ll unlock the abilities Ki Pulse and Ki Flux which means tapping a button on your controller at the right time refills part of your Ki gauge with pulse. Ki Flux recharges your gauge if you change stance and I also have another skill unlocked with the Kusarigama (blade on a chain with a weighted end) where dodging out the way of an attack refills your Ki.
There are numerous skills you can unlock, once you acquire points. What do points make? Well, they can be used to unlock extra attacks and abilities with your favourite weapons. Add in magical and Ninjitsu abilities which are available early in the game, and you’ll get separate points for these and can unlock various poisons, throwing stars and kunai under the Ninjitsu skill trees. The magical side of things gives elemental attacks and defence, plus abilities that weaken enemies. There are no shields in Nioh, but while you can still block and counter with your weapons, you’ll find yourself dodging enemies and attacking them from the side or rear, the majority of the time. If you come across enemies blocking aplenty, you can change your stance instead of just two-handing a weapon. Stances are low, mid and high: low is extremely fast but less damage, mid is a good all rounder and high is a little slower but hits hard. Changing things up while fighting on the fly takes some practice, but pays off once you get used to using the Ki Pulse and switching styles depending on enemy type.
The levels are self-contained, unlike the From Software titles where each area leads to another. You have an overworld map with markers on it, each one representing a mission. Ticked markers denote those areas for which you’ve already completed, but if they have a grey scroll behind them, then there is a sub-mission available. This is where you head back to the location, but have different objectives like clearing out certain demons or killing bandits which have taken over. Each level has it’s own design and theme as such: the tutorial level takes you on a trip round the Tower of London teaching you the basics of combat and locking on. Once you clear that level, it’s off to Japan and start the main game levels.
Starting out, you will be on the shore of a village which has been attacked by bandits. Work your way up through the small fishing area, through the Lords house and then down towards the harbour on the other side, where most of the houses have been set alight, and there are demons lying in wait for you. The levels are contained spaces with a single way through, initially. Just like the Dark Souls games, you’ll open doors, kick down ladders and so on, creating shortcuts to make getting back to and from the shrine quicker, and handy if you get killed. If you die, your guardian spirit guards your grave and the Amrita you have collected (same thing as the Dark Souls series’ blood stains), the guardian spirits represent various elements and can be summoned once the gauge is full in battle.
Presently I am using an oriental-styled serpent, which imbues your weapon with water for a short period of time and causes plenty damage against lightning based foes. There’s also a dog (which looks like a Husky) that is fire, and a bull which is Earth. You get to choose a spirit after the tutorial level, but will unlock more as the story goes on.
The visuals on Nioh are great on the PS4, and the port to PC is decent. You don’t have as many options available as dedicated PC versions of a game, but there is enough there to make Nioh scale well on most machines. You do need a DirectX 11-capable graphics card, while a controller is a must. There is no mouse support in-game, but you can play with just the keyboard if you so wish, although I wouldn’t recommend it. I have read on the Steam discussions that third-party work is being done on keyboard and mouse control, but at this point it is essentially controller-only.
Nioh is a welcome addition to your Steam library if you like the Dark Souls/Bloodborne and Ninja Gaiden-type games. It is tough and can be frustrating at times, but if you endure, there is a great game here which gets better (and easier) the longer you play. I have been enjoying the challenge and have reached the second island now! I have played for just over 23 hours so far and died over 250 times, but still keep playing getting further each time. You learn from your mistakes and also not to just rush in. There is a Co-Op feature, just like the Dark Souls games where you can summon help for a boss, or just to get through a level, but you need a specific item to do this. To get the Ochoko Cups, you need to fight fallen players’ Revenants, assist other players to get through a level/boss and occasionally, you will find them in chests.
There are plenty of cutscenes and story text before missions, which is another plus point over the vague story of the Dark Souls titles. On top of the base game, the 3 released DLCs are included in the one package, giving you even more for your money.
Also check out my Steam album of fantastic screenshots.
Thanks to the Youtube channels featured for the gaming footage.
- Developer: Team Ninja
- Publisher: Koei Tecmo
- Players: Single player & co-op
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!