In Depth

Nioh: Critics praise 'unforgettable' PS4 exclusive

Team Ninja's latest adventure finally surfaces - after spending more than a decade in development

Nioh Game

Team Ninja has finally released its PlayStation 4 exclusive Nioh, after almost 13 years in development. 

Set in Japan in the year 1600, the game follows blond westerner William Adams, who finds himself drawn to a world set in the fantasy version of the Sengoku period.

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Similar to the company's fast-paced and notoriously difficult Ninja Gaiden series, which released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2012, Nioh is a hack-and-slash demon-slaying game, only played at a significantly slower pace. Players will be able to chain together combat moves and discover weapon upgrades to deal more damage towards enemies.

With next-generation graphics and unique setting, is Nioh the action game fans have been calling for? Here's what the critics think.

The Week reviews Nioh

Nioh is inspired by the action role-playing gameplay of the long-running Souls series, created by Team Ninja's fellow countrymen at FromSoftware. 

Graphically, it is beautiful: dungeons are dark and foreboding while corn fields ebb and flow spectacularly in the breeze. Weapons leave blazing trails when fighting and the environment shakes with each stomp of your demon enemies' feet.

Be warned, though, the combat takes patience and practice to master and going into a melee swinging wildly will result in little more than a quick death. 

Using your weapon, together with blocking and dodging attacks, reduces stamina and while it revives in a short time, you will be left open to attack and opponents will be quick to exploit your weakness. 

Regular enemies require careful dodging and thrusting at the right time, while studious observation is needed on bosses' moves to mount careful attacks based on their patterns. They also generally involve numerous deaths.

Favouring specific weapons is unwise. Some enemies are simply too fast to beat with more cumbersome, heavy hitting weapons so it's important to evaluate your gear before heading into a boss battle. Picking the right weapon will still see you die a dozen times before you emerge victorious, but it will help you avoid going down a dispiriting, terminal route.

Unlike Souls, Nioh's gameplay is mission-based. You can either follow the main storyline or veer off on side-mission - which are often harder than the main challenges. 

You'll also encounter the fallen corpses of other players, which will gave information about their untimely demise. They can be revived so you can take them on in battle and even gain loot from them.

Nioh has a very different character to Souls, however. The customisable elements of Adam's gear and weapons offer greater depth and the fighting is more nuanced, with weapon choice playing a much more critical role.

However, while it's a critical hit and well received by hardcore gamers, Nioh is unlikely to sit quite as well with more casual gamers. Ability, temperament and patience will dictate whether this is a game to love, or one that will merely frustrate.

Reviews

"Nioh is an immensely layered experience" packed with an 80-hour campaign that has a "rhythmic ebb and flow", says GameSpot. Every area that Adams enters "exudes its own sense of character" and is filled with an array of puzzles. 

Exploring these locations increases your chance of finding new weapons and items, which are often found in the "seemingly countless corpses strewn throughout the game". 

However, IGN says Adams is "sadly underdeveloped" compared to the "captivating" adventure that lies before him, although the supporting cast is "colourful" and adds to the sheer scope of the journey. 

The more unique missions are "unforgettable", but even basic levels have "some interesting spin that distinguishes them from the last". Settings range from "a deadly, trap filled ninja mansion and a sprawling, bloody battlefield", it adds.

Forbes says the "combat is slick and responsive" and there's a massive variety of weapons to collect. Enemies can be tough, it adds, but bosses are "even more challenging" as they have "a ton of health" and can deal a lot of damage. 

Price and release

Nioh is available exclusively on the PlayStation 4 now and can be picked up for £42 on Amazon.  

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