Last weekend, I had the privilege of playing the new slash-’em-up game, Nioh. Developed by the creators of Ninja Gaiden, you play a samurai. Or at least that is what I could gather from the limited information I was given. But, baring in mind that this is simply a taster of the game, I went into it with high hopes. Now, if at any point I have mentioned that I am good at video games, I wholeheartedly take it back. Let’s take a look at some of the features I was able to glimpse at in the few hours that I played.
If you have ever played Dark Souls then Nioh has a very similar style to it. When I say that, I mean it is incredibly difficult and infuriating when you continuously end up dead. However, I quite enjoyed some of the features of the combat. You can play in three different styles, changing them up depending on the type of opponent. In this sense it reminds me of of the first Witcher game. You have the high stance: do the most damage but difficult to block. A low stance: you can dodge and block easily but you don’t do as much damage. And, finally, the medium stance, which sits nicely in the middle of the two. However, I discovered that you cannot simply play in medium style all the time and hope to win. It’s like the game forces you to play differently. How annoying.
The ‘Ki’ System
Basically, it is a stamina bar. You need this in order to attack and dodge. If your Ki gets too low, you cannot attack until it recharges. It also means you cannot block or dodge incoming attacks, so don’t let it get too low. I found this out the hard way. You can produce a Ki Pulse, which means after you have attacked you press a button to absorb the Ki and fill up your bar again. However, this is tedious when you are in the middle of a fight and the enemy isn’t considerate enough to wait while you replenish your Ki. In addition to this, the amount of Ki you gain back depends entirely on your timing with hitting the button. Too slow and you won’t get any. It sounds easy but it isn’t. Especially when you’re being attacked by a relentless evil umbrella.
Shrines of Safety
This is how you save any progress you have made. They will become your best friends. Well, if you are like me you will barely make it to the second shrine in the game before giving up on life. Although you do not lose any real progress or items you have picked up when you die, you do lose your experience, or ‘Amrita’ as its called in Nioh. You can gain Amrita at shrines by giving items as a gift, in return you will be rewarded with a small amount of experience. As a bonus, these shrines are inhabited by adorable little green spirits. You can find lost spirits whilst exploring and guide them back to the shrine. If you do this, you can activate their power the next time you visit. Which is rather nice. But, these shrines are few and far between so to make any real progress, you need to not die, which is easier said than done.
This game has a lot to it in terms of features. I felt that the plot was confusing though and there wasn’t really a story involved as such. Or at least, you care less about the story and more about saving your last Elixir for fighting that giant troll thing over there. I think I spent most of my time wondering how to effectively use the stances against enemies and running away from them crying “please, don’t kill me!” Because I am such a bad-ass like that.
It will be interesting to see how the full game plays out as it stated in the free weekend that some features may be different. Despite the frustration, I did quite enjoy what I did play until I came up against the winged demon of death and gave up.
How do you think you will fair in the world of Nioh? You can pre-order now for PS4 only or wait until February 7th 2017.