Nioh: Complete Edition is Team Ninja’s entry to the “Soulsbourne”-type of incredibly difficult action RPGs, and it is incredible. Released earlier this year for the Playstation 4, Complete Edition bundles Nioh along with all its DLC, as well as adding extras such as all weapons being available from the start and the ability to run the game in 4k. While the level of difficulty present in this game will be restrictive to some, patience and strategy will allow you to make your way through this intricate game. This is our Nioh PC review.
Nioh: Complete Edition follows William Adams, loosely based on his real-life counterpart who sailed to Japan as part of an expedition for the Dutch East India Company and became one of the few western samurais to exist. Nioh adds heaps of Japanese folklore and has William trying to protect Japan from England by finding the magical land of Amrita before the English do. The fact that there is an overt story during gameplay already marks a departure from the way Dark Souls’ storytelling worked, where the lore was found through interacting with the environment. Nioh is played through multiple levels, rather than one single world, allowing the chance to have story progression occur between levels. This also gives the player a chance to play through side missions, where areas are reused but pathing is changed so that you can explore different areas of the same level.
Nioh’s combat follows the basics of attacking and defending, much like other “Soulsbourne” type games. Enemies will have different telegraphs for attacks they are going to perform, followed by brief openings in which you can return attacks. However, Nioh’s combat system feels much more like a progressive fighting game with multiple weapons, combat styles, and available talents you can unlock. There are 7 different melee weapons, 3 ranged weapons, as well as ninjutsu and magic skills you can unlock. Each weapon has its own skill tree, allowing you to unlock new skills, combos, or buffs after earning enough skill points and progressing far enough in the game.
These skills combine with the three different stances that can be taken during combat: high, mid, and low stance. High stance focuses on dealing damage, mid focuses on defense, and low focus on evasion. Stances can be switched on the fly, changing attack combos, damage amounts, blocking ability, and every other aspect of combat. Even though there are no shields to be found, each weapon can block attacks at the cost of Ki, which is Nioh’s version of a stamina bar. Ki is spent to block and perform attacks, and while it regenerates slowly while idle, you can perform a Ki pulse after attacking to regenerate your Ki quicker, adding more complexity and allowing for quicker combat.
Loot in Nioh adds another layer of customization and replayability to the game. Gear drops will roll different rarity levels, determining base strength numbers as well as secondary special effects that will exist on the weapon. These effects are rolled on each drop, meaning that no two weapons will be alike. Weapons have familiarity levels, which are experience bars for individual weapons. Familiarity is gained primarily through fighting enemies with that weapon. Maxing out familiarity on a weapon allows you to pass on a skill from the weapon to another of the same type through soul matching, or offer them to a shrine for experience. All equipment can be broken down into materials, which can then be used in crafting other armor. You can reforge gear to increase the level and effectiveness of it, as well as change and improve passive skills. You are also able to change the appearance of gear by sacrificing one piece of gear to put its appearance on another.
Level design is terrific, encouraging strategic gameplay and punishing carelessness. Each level has multiple paths for you to explore, which may lead to chests full of loot, shortcuts, or other collectibles for you to find. There are many jump-scare enemies or corpses that will animate last second to attack you, which can feel unfair the first time you find out you didn’t clear the area correctly before proceeding. This encourages you to move through the level slowly on your first pass so that you can learn where the dangers are and allows you to speed up on subsequent runs. Getting too cocky will almost always lead to a death, however, meaning you will want to stay cautious and slowly make your way through each level for the best chance of survival. If you have online mode enabled, you will also come across bloody graves, death sites of other players at the same level as you. You can read how that player died, as well as challenge an AI controlled version of that player to a fight for loot.
Nioh: Complete Edition is a worthy “Soulsbourne” game, and maybe one of the best. With the inclusion of all the DLC and the great performance of the port, Nioh should be a day 1 purchase for all fans of the genre. The combat system allows you to play fast and aggressive or slow and defensive, whichever suits your playstyle, and the inclusion of DLC weapons from the start means that you have an incredible amount of customization right off the bat to play through this deep, lengthy game.
Note: Our PC copy of Nioh: Complete Edition was provided by PR
COMPARE TO: Demon’s Souls, Bloodborne
OVERALL SCORE: 8.5/10
- Intricate combat system
- Great level design
- Lots of collectibles to find
- Many areas can feel “unfair” at first
- Level scaling is steep