Normally, I try to avoid writing clichés when writing reviews. One of the clichés that pops up a lot in modern game critique is ‘like Dark Souls’. When it comes to Nioh, however, it really is like Dark Souls. The game got a very out of the blue alpha release last month. Comparisons with Dark Souls are all well and good, but how well does Nioh stand on its own?
"From what was available in the alpha, signs point to Nioh being a fun time."
First though, what is Nioh? It’s a hack ‘n’ slash action game currently being developed by the guys at Team Ninja (of Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive fame, and Metroid: Other M infamy) for the Playstation 4. You play as William, a blonde-haired samurai and son of a feudal Japanese lord and a western woman (loosely based around the real-life figure William Adams, the first ever western samurai) and is set during the Warring States period of seventeenth-century Japan.
From what was available in the alpha, signs point to Nioh being a fun time. Gameplay is almost lifted entirely from the aforementioned From Software game. You collect ‘souls’ (here called amrita) with each kill and exchange them for levels at a ‘bonfire’ (a shrine). Die, and you drop all of the amrita you have collected, although you have the chance to pick up what you’ve lost. Die on the way and they’re gone for good. One of the main differences is that have multiple stances from which you can chose, and each style can be upgraded for new moves and stat bonuses. Nioh’s cuts are much deeper than Dark Souls. I am not joking when I say any enemy can kill you with ease. Stamina management is key here, and at the end of the combo you can hit the shoulder button for quick stamina recovery. There’s definitely some improvements that need to be made, but a very solid alpha has definitely got my attention.