TEAM NINJA’S SLICE N’ DICE TAKE ON THE SOULS LEGACY
Team Ninja, having witnessed the success of From Software’s Souls
series, have set out to carve their own slice of the dungeon crawler pie by sticking the meat of a Souls game in a blender along with their own critically acclaimed Ninja
Gaiden DNA. Added to this they’ve topped it off with a sprinkling of Geralt from the Witcher 3, but is it enough to produce a heavyweight contender to the Dark Souls trilogy?
In reality, what’s emerged is a sharp and solid take on From
Software’s established formula. Nioh’s atmosphere is every bit as moody, with graphical and audio ambience serving up some dire environments that ingrain a sense of dread at every turn. Players who seek solace in the genre will no doubt feel a connection to this new dark world; not quite a hellish realm, but more of an alternative historical nightmare, set in a fictional Elizabethan era/ Japanese Sengoku period.
Starting as a western prisoner held in the Tower of London may seem like an odd plot premise for a game spouting Samurai sentimentality, and very close to the bone when compared to the first Dark Souls game, but it helps set an international footing that supports the mission---- based structure as opposed to an open-world setting.
Starting off barefoot in a pair of medieval undies isn’t the most effective or inconspicuous way of escaping prison, and it’s not long before William’s pirate skills are used to pilfer clothing and armour from bested guards, or by rooting through a few lost-and-found chests that dot the prison. During the intro mission, and throughout the game, you’ll need to equip or replace armour regularly, but every piece requires special attention as each has its own diverse stats and perks; attention to all categories is vital, as player’s will require all the defensive help that they can get.
Weapon variants pool from Gaijin, Samurai and Ninjutsu armaments. Equally they require careful thought as wielding dual swords for example may look the part; enabling rapid consecutive attacks, but they ultimately lack the power needed to take down harder adversaries.
Ki energy is central to combat: it’s essentially a stamina gauge, but it’s vital in battle. Both offensive and defensive actions will quickly deplete it, leaving William open to attack, often ending in your swift demise.
For those put off by the Souls series reputation, Nioh offers a great training experience. That’s not to say this is easy going – far from it! However, there’s a gratifying flow to combat as your character deftly slices and dices his way through adversaries. It’ll entice you back, death after frustrating death, but this isn’t some hack ’n’ slash affair. Discipline is paramount, but when you master both stance and rhythm the game really comes into its stride.
BELOW There’s a plethora of enemy types to dispatch
Nioh’s Yokai (malevolent Japanese spirits) come in all shapes and sizes, a swift slay will depend on your choice of elemental-infused weapon
TOP Onmyo magic will summon fire to envelope your equipped weapon