Nioh is a downloadable action hack and slash with RPG elements that was released exclusively on the PS4 on the 7th February 2017, but was kater brought to the PC, which happened on the 7th November that same year. Developed by Team Ninja, the same team behind the Dead or Alive fighting games and even the brutally hard hack and slash games, Ninja Gaiden, so the team know what they’re doing with this genre. Playing as a man named William, he pursues an enemy into Japan, where he’s soon thrust upon the chaos of a new war.
You can download Nioh: Complete Edition from Steam. The game includes Nioh’s three expansions: Dragon of the North, Defiant Honor, and Bloodshed’s End. To start downloading click on the Download link at the end of this text.
Finding himself locked up in the Tower of London for being in possession of a certain secret, William eventually breaks out with the help of a spirit guardian called Saoirse. Shortly after the breakout, William is confronted by Edward Kelley and attempts to kill him, capturing William’s spirit in the crossfire and runs away to Japan, a country currently at war with Yokai, evil spirits and demons that want nothing more than to kill. In the pursuit of Kelley, William is going to have to cut down every non-friendly Yokai he finds or risk losing his spirit and the fate of the world to evil.
Playing like a Souls-like title, Nioh has you going through levels against increasingly challenging enemies and bosses that require your utmost attention when fighting against them. Just like in the games that inspired this one, if you’re not careful and don’t take your time, you’re going to get destroyed in a matter of seconds. With a vast selection of weapons available to you, you can hit with both basic and heavy attacks against these enemies, eventually bringing them down to 0 health, at which point they will die, and you’ll gain some experience. As it is in all Souls-like games, if you die before getting to use that experience for whatever reason, you will lose it all and have to acquire it again before you can use it.
Experience can be used to level up certain parts of your character, depending on the sort of build you would like to play as. You can choose to focus on heavier weaponry with heavy armor or vice versa and have light weapons, while wearing light armor that you can dodge whenever needed. The world around you is somewhat open-ended, but for the most part is linear and is designed to loop back in on itself, so you’re always making some sort of progress while you play.
A unique approach to the game though is the “stance” mechanic, where you can choose one of four different stances with your weapon to attack in different ways. Depending on the stance you have chosen at the time, your attacks will differ, causing them to be faster but potentially weaker or to be stronger and just a bit slower, or maybe it’s just to add range. Attacking and dodging is one way to get good at Nioh; learning to use the stances at the appropriate times, however, is just as important.
Nioh is very clearly inspired by games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, the games that created this genre in the first place. While it does borrow a lot of ideas from those games, it has enough of its own, along with the unique feudal Japan setting that hasn’t been done before in the genre.
Anyone that's looking for the next-best Souls-like game that isn't simply another Dark Souls, Nioh is a great title to pick up. It's challenging, got a lovely setting, and has some interesting mechanics that make it unique enough of an experience overall to make it quite enjoyable.
- Challenging, but addictive gameplay at all times
- Plenty to explore that you won't find unless you do
- Great overall setting that's new to the genre
- The stance mechanic keeps things interesting for each different weapon type
- Just like all games in the genre, it can become quite frustratingly hard
- Doesn't do too much to differentiate itself from Dark Souls