Nioh is an interesting game. At first glance many would happily write it off as a clone of Dark Souls, albeit with a distinctly Japanese flavour. But upon spending hours upon hours with Nioh, it’s clear that there’s more that meets the eye here. The truth of the matter is that Nioh is a game that is influenced by games in the genre, like Dark Souls, but very much carves out its own identity for itself. Even if it does happen to contain the DNA of its contemporaries and pedigrees from its developer. If you ever enjoyed games like Capcom’s Onimusha, Dark Souls, Bloodborne or even Team Ninja’s very own Ninja Gaiden, you’re bound to find something in Nioh that’ll appeal to you.
Nioh takes place during the Sengoku era, a time in Japan where the states were warring while others fought to bring them together. You play as William Adams, an irish samurai who encounters a strange alchemist who has the intention to assassinate the emperor. With all the intention to stop him, William travels to Japan and embarks on a journey filled with the supernatural and the unexpected.Like games like Onimusha, or more superficially, Assassin’s Creed; Nioh takes historically accurate locales, conflicts and people and weaves them into a storyline riddled with the supernatural and outlandish. The result is something slightly compelling for anyone versed in this period of history but otherwise just pedestrian for everyone else.
As I mentioned earlier, Nioh looks to be a Dark Souls clone. It isn’t, but the way the game is designed is quite evocative. William is the only playable character, and you’ll play through enclosed environments fighting all kinds of enemies before taking on a (usually) overwhelming boss. While the missions themselves are self-contained and usually contain multiple paths for William to approach his goal from, they are all selected from a map. There’s no interconnectedness to the environments, no open world. But this makes Nioh feel a lot more approachable with less filler (to a point).The crux of the Nioh experience is the combat, and this is where Nioh really comes into its own. William can wield up to five different kinds of weapons from swords to axes to the less orthodox kusarigama. Each of these weapons can be wielded in a low, mid or high stance which not only alters the way the weapon behaves in combat but also how William can move and carry himself in battle.