We've being playing a press copy of Nioh over the last week and, after bathing in the blood our enemies, both men and monster alike, we've come to really appreciate many things about the title. Here are 10 things we found particularly cool about Nioh, however, before we get started, you should check out the game's extended Tokyo Game Show trailer to get a taste for what it is all about.
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1. It's a super stylish Dark Souls clone
The high risk high reward, punishing, border-line masochistic gameplay mechanics of the Dark Souls games have been welcomed by the hardcore gaming community and, pleasingly, Nioh takes much from them, including the ability to kill the player brutally if they make mistakes. Indeed, to succeed in Nioh you have to master the game's various weapons and abilities, learn enemy attack patterns and then execute a plan to win. Button bashing will get you nowhere.
2. It's a game by Team Ninja
Nioh has been developed by Team Ninja, the well-known Japanese video game developer who brought the industry titles such as Dead or Alive, Ninja Gaiden and Metroid: Other M. Team Ninja is known for its stylish, fast-playing gameplay, and that is once more evident in Nioh, with the rapidity of movement and combat moves (both for the player and the NPCs) suitably frenetic. Where Team Ninja's pedigree in the action genre comes to the fore though is that despite the frenetic combat you never feel out of control.
3. Nioh is set in a fictional Sengoku period Japan
In the real world Japan's Sengoku period (1467-1603 CE) saw the country play out a bloody civil war that culminated in the rise of the powerful and long-lasting Tokugawa shogunate. Nioh borrows this setting and sees you the player fighting on the side of Tokugawa Ieyasu, hired by famous ninja Hattori Hanzō (another real character who gets a fictional rebirth), to help further his master's cause. And, as well as fighting men who are against Tokugawa, you are also responsible for eradicating...
4. Yōkai, demons from the spirit world
One of the flat-out coolest things about Nioh is the yōkai demons, spirits and ghosts you have to fight, which often act as bosses or sub-bosses while on missions. Each yōkai is based on a real monster from Japanese folklore, with ogres, wraiths, witches and more thriving in the chaos caused by the bloody civil war. These boss fights are incredibly intense too, as they are even more forgiving than combat encounters with men, so each one generates a suitable sense of heightened challenge and excitement.
5. You play a fictionalised version of William Adams, the first ever Western samurai
And while Adams certainly had an interesting and exciting life in the real world, in this game he is reborn as a Nioh, from which the game gets its title, a guardian figure possessing much power. Of course, as a Westerner you'll first have to get to Japan, a journey which sees the game start quite dramatically in the Tower of London.
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6. RPG nuts will lose their minds over Nioh's character customisation options
Underneath Nioh's fast-paced, tactical combat lies a complex stats system, with every weapon, piece of armour and item imbued with a series of qualities. As a result, players can min/max their character to their hearts content. In addition, thanks sub-mechanics such as forging, combining and refashioning, players can also make sure that the daikatana they are wielding not only hits hard but looks how they want also.
7. The combat system is deep
There are a wide range of weapon disciplines in the game, ranging from hand-to-hand weapons such as katanas and spears, through to ranged weapons such as bows and rifles. In addition, each hand-to-hand weapon can be wielded in one of three stances, low, mid and high, which each affect how the player moves and strikes. Want to inflict a series of blows with added power? Then strike with a high stance. Want to maximize your ability to block and dodge? Then choose a low stance. Only by mastering these mechanics can you success in Nioh.
8. Nioh takes great advantage of PS4 Pro
If you run Nioh on PS4 Pro with a 4K TV then you are treated to being able to select from a range of display modes. The two most notable are Movie Mode, where the game will display at 3840x2160 at 30FPS, and Action Mode where it will display at 1920X1080 at a super smooth 60 FPS. Variable frame rate options are also available, while if you have a PS4 Pro running on a 1080p display instead, then you get high-quality anti-aliasing at 30 FPS thrown in too. T3 has being playing in Movie Mode on a 4K TV and Nioh has looked superb.
9. Nioh's music and sound effects are atmospheric
Team Ninja has, as well as making the game look right with authentic for the period buildings and costumes, clearly spent time making the world of Nioh sound right too. Traditional Japanese music from the time is used throughout, while well-realised sound effects like the clash of weaponry, burning of a musket's fuse and click-clocking of wooden wind chimes really help imbue the game's dark fantasy world with atmosphere.
10. Nioh has co-op and some cool online features
Lastly, if you so wish you can engage in Nioh's online functions, which include co-op missions, as well as the ability to fight "phantoms" of other players. These phantoms are littered around each map and represent a place where another real-world person has been killed in-game. While these phantoms are AI controlled, they are equipped with the gear the player had at the time, meaning that if you can beat a high-level player, then you get to swipe their tasty gear.
For more information about Nioh then check out the game's official website (opens in new tab).