It is curious how in an industry so given to imitate the formulas that find success there are so few imitators of what FromSoftware established with its Souls series including Bloodborne. Perhaps it is because of fear of comparisons, lack of talent to replicate an experience as round as the games offered in the Japanese study or because it is not directly valued as something profitable by the studies, the truth is that we have received very few Titles that follow its wake.
Probably the most notable example of this we have in Salt and Sanctuary , title wearing the gameplay of Souls enters the two – dimensional platformer with great skill and mastery, but now Koei Tecmo also wants its piece of the pie with Nioh , a project announced Originally in 2005 for PlayStation 3 and has gone through a hellish development until its managers, Team Ninja , found the key to become the hilarious adventure we have today.
Yes, his inspiration in the works of FromSoftware is clear at all times, but we are letting you know that it is a game with its own personality and that knows how to differentiate itself enough to offer something different and a very appealing alternative for all those who We enjoy plunging into dark worlds to uncover their secrets and deal with all kinds of challenging and cruel challenges.
Japanese History and Folklore
One of the key differentiators Nioh and give it more attractive we have it in its attractive setting. The story of the game unfolds in the year 1600 and will take us to embody William, an English pirate who, for reasons that you will have to discover for yourselves, ends up traveling to Japan.
As you well know, this era was characterized by being a very convulsive period, with a country completely divided and suffering constant wars between the different clans that held power. One was where the Japanese suffered a lot, giving rise to numerous legends and myths about demons, spirits and supernatural creatures, a folklore that comes alive in this adventure .
In this way, we will find an interesting mixture between Japanese mythology and historical facts that has seemed to us most absorbing , especially considering that we will not stop to rub shoulders with real characters and to pass through places where some of the Most important battles of the time.
The problem here is that the narrative leaves a lot to be desired and the script is anything but interesting , so the main plot never becomes a hook strong enough to encourage us to continue playing to know more, motivation that We will come for other factors of the game. Of course, it is also fair to say that in the final stretch it improves a lot and we are expecting a good number of surprises .
Another problem is how much the game takes for granted, fully relying on us to know who were the main players of that era, their relationships and what happened. There is a very complete library full of biographies about each historical figure and documents detailing the legends behind each monster , although that does not mean that the script contextualizes the action very poorly. Ojo, the main plot is so simple that you can follow without any problem, but you will lose many interesting details if you do not leave with all this knowledge (we can attest that having played so many Samurai Warriors and Nobunaga’s Ambition has helped us a lot).
A different Souls game with its very own personality
Turning now what is its gameplay, Nioh offers a combination of elements of several successful games , using as a basis the aforementioned “Soulsborne” of FromSoftware, so it is almost inevitable to mention these titles, but will be something That we will try to appeal as little as possible.
In this way, we have an adventure of role and action in which we will explore exploring a series of levels from point A to B, where we will await a great battle against a final boss . Obviously, these phases are full of bifurcations, shortcuts and secrets for those who want to investigate to the last of their corners, although the path to follow is often more or less evident and linear.
The design of these screens (here there is no world with all its interconnected regions, so we will access them from a general map) has seemed somewhat irregular , since we will find really good, well studied phases (a certain ninja mansion Has fallen in love in this sense) and with unique mechanics that provide variety, although a great number of them feel much less inspired, content to offer a maze of corridors with traps and little else.
One of its strengths is in the combat system . Although it uses a system of energy similar to that seen in the Souls (that is to say, every movement that we make will consume our Ki meter, which will be recharged only when we do nothing), it is much more dynamic when offering the possibility of performing combos combining The attack buttons strong and weak, something that gains in depth the moment we begin to learn concrete techniques for certain situations.
Here are two key elements to be highlighted as they are the ones that really give you the salt and pepper battles Nioh . On the one hand we have the ” Ki Pulse ” ability , which will allow us to recharge much of our energy meter after attacking. When making a combo (or a simple hit) we will see how a portion of that bar will remain blank and will begin to be filled, and if we press R1 during this process we will recover all the energy until that point.
The interesting thing about this system is that if we manage to square the button press at the moment when the bar has reached the top of the white part, we will also perform a purification of our environment, allowing us to eliminate zones that are dominated by the Kingdom of The Yokais, some areas that some enemies place to recover their Ki and lower ours. In addition, with certain techniques we can also increase our damage or gain other enhancers by performing the Ki Pulse perfectly. Of course, if you make any other moves before reloading (like defending or attacking) you will not be able to execute it.
As you can imagine, if we coordinate our movements well we can make great combinations of blows while maintaining the Ki necessary to defend or dodge if necessary, something that gives a lot of play and allows us to be more offensive. In addition, the “dance” that occurs while we measure and coordinate our button presses is something really satisfying to see and execute.
Something that we also liked a lot is the possibility of maintaining three different attack postures : High (strong and slow) medium (balanced and best to defend) and low (loose but very fast). Each of them will completely change our way of moving, and depending on each weapon we will find that they have some utilities or others depending on the pose we adopt, which opens up a lot of possibilities for action to face the same situation, especially when we start learning to Perform combos changing posture in the middle of them. Add to this the possibility of using objects, ninjutsus, guardian spirits that boost us for a few moments and spells, and you can get a good idea of how complete the combat system is.
In spite of all this, we warn you that battles are usually very technical and even slow . Throwing into the attack without thinking rarely does not end up with us kissing the ground, so we study well the attack patterns of our enemies (they are very clear and predictable once we learn them) is fundamental to find those brief gaps in which we can Use to attack safely and without risk.
This is especially evident in bosses, who usually have four or five attacks that repeat constantly and always indicate in some way, so the best thing to do is to wait for them to be carried out, avoided and exploited Quickly to hit a couple of strokes before they can react again.
Since we speak of bosses, comment that usually are very hard battles, long and intense , although having such defined patterns sometimes become very predictable and somewhat monotonous. In spite of this, most of these battles have really liked us and we have suffered them really, leaving us with that healthy sensation between relief and satisfaction that so well they feel to this type of games.
As far as difficulty is concerned, we have been surprised at how well-balanced and balanced it is . It is always challenging but at no time does it feel like an impossible challenge, so if we can play our cards correctly and pay close attention to the environment, we will be able to avoid almost all the pitfalls and dangers that get in our way.
But do not be confused, since we can assure you that you will die, a lot , before seeing the credits of the end of the game, although rarely you will blame the program, since deep down you will know that that death will have been by Fault of an error of yours.
Another very interesting aspect to comment we have in the progression of our character . As in any Souls , by killing enemies we will obtain Amrita (the equivalent of souls in games from FromSoftware), which we can invest in improving one of our main attributes. Each statistic that we upload will earn us a level, and with that, will increase the cost of Amrita for the next, so we recommend that you study very well how you want to invest them to get the most out of your favorite team.
As you can suppose, if we die we will lose all the Amrita that we have without using , although we will have the possibility to recover it returning to the place where we fell and touching our guardian spirit. Of course, if we die again before doing this we will lose it forever.
In addition, as we gain affinity with our weapons we will gain Samurai points , which will allow us to unlock new combat techniques and passive improvements in a complete tree of skills, making us more and more lethal.
Finally, in regards to the equipment, has been implemented a booty system in the purest style Diablo , so we will not stop collecting weapons pieces of armor that will be releasing enemies and coffers of different quality and rarity (indicated by a code Of colors), whose attributes are always random. The system works really well, is perfectly implemented and the sense of progress it offers is well studied so that we do not feel like we are only collecting “garbage”, since every little time we will surprise ourselves by updating our equipment.
Overall, completing the adventure is a task that will easily take us over 30 hours of gameplay (if we just focus on what is the main story, a figure that can be greatly expanded if we want to find all the collectibles and Overcome all the optional challenges that we will unlock.
The bad news is that these secondary missions tend to reuse the same scenarios constantly , but changing the enemies, which takes away some charm, although in them we will find some very interesting battles worthy of being played. In addition, the rewards they hide are often worthy, as very powerful weapons, new guardian spirits, armor, and so on. Not to mention how helpful they are to level up and not stay too far behind.
A detail to highlight is that many levels hide several kodama spirits , small beings to which we can make offerings to help us in different ways in their sanctuaries, which act as points of control within the phases (bonfires) and recharge Our reserves of elixirs (estus). In addition, some of them will increase the number of elixirs we will receive when visiting these shrines, something that we can not seem more useful, so we recommend that you try to gather as many as you can.
Fighting with a company
One of the successes of this new work of Team Ninja we have in the inclusion of a cooperative way so that we can share adventures with other players . This can be done in two very different ways. On the one hand we can choose to make an organized group with someone to fulfill the missions we want together, while on the other we have the option to invoke (or be invoked) randomly to another user.
Depending on what we choose, the game experience will be very different . For example, if we opt for an organized group we will have a limited number of lives to overcome an entire mission, which can be extremely challenging, since almost any foolish error is usually paid with death, so we recommend you play In this way only with someone with whom you have good communication and you know that you have a minimum of ability to face these challenges, since lives are shared.
In contrast, if we choose to call, the operation of the multiplayer will be very similar to that of any Souls . Placing a concrete object in a kodama sanctuary will invoke a random player to our game to help us to finish the phase leader. The invoked player will have very limited interaction with the world and will be banished if he is defeated, so we will not be able to revive him. In addition, we have noticed that the life of the enemies rises considerably when doing this to compensate a little and that the title is not a walk of this way. If we want to be invoked, we will simply have to choose the option in question from the main map.
A very original detail and that we liked a lot, is that playing in cooperative will receive honor after each session (whether failed or not), a type of currency that will allow us to buy equipment with random attributes, gestures, consumables, appearances for our character , Etc., something that will motivate us to play alongside other users.
Moreover, we will be able to join a clan so that all the honor we gain will have repercussions on its overall position . At the end of each season, the better positioned clans will receive better rewards, creating a community competition that can bring the game to life.
Highlight that, although the title has not yet been released and there are hardly any people playing, the games we played have worked perfectly and we have not had any kind of problem to find other players, so if the servers endure During the launch we can enjoy a seamless online experience without lag.
Graphically we are facing a very amazing title and attractive for the view thanks to its good artistic direction , which manages to make up some technical defects of which it suffers, like some textures somewhat poor and without much resolution, as well as some rather simple and empty scenes in Occasions. The modeling of the characters we have liked much more, especially the protagonists, bosses and yokais.
Although undoubtedly , the best is the ability to play at 60 frames per second thanks to one of the multiple display modes that includes. In fact, PS4 Pro can achieve 1080p resolution and 60 fps at the expense of a few visual cuts, a sacrifice that we assure you is very worthwhile, since the increase in resolution and detail that we get with the rest Of modalities do not compensate the fluidity and precision of game that obtains with the first option. Anyway, the good thing that they let us choose is that each one will be able to play as he likes, so we do not have any problems to put in this sense.
The sound offers us a remarkable soundtrack with very oriental themes that fit perfectly with the theme of the game and what we see on the screen, although we believe that they lack some strength and variety, since there are many compositions and these are Repeat more than desired (and that sounds little, since silence usually reigns during much of the adventure). The effects fulfill a purely functional work, since they are not very high quality, they are little varied and they tire too fast, to the point of even getting annoyed at times.
What we like a lot is the dubbing, since it has chosen to make the characters speak according to their language . As we say, William is English, like other actors of the function, so that will be the language they use, while all Japanese speak in their native language, resulting in some well-worn scenes in which the latter Have to speak in English to communicate with our protagonist, although this will soon learn the language to at least understand what they say. Definitely a good decision.
Nioh is a game that we like very much and that, despite borrowing elements from many other titles, has managed to combine them properly to create a very satisfying and challenging experience, but with its own unique personality and details . Perhaps it lacks that point of brilliance that does have the saga to which it takes as reference, but that does not mean that it knows to offer us an adventure tremendously enjoyable and with a fascinating setting that many we missed. If you like the genre and what you are proposing, you can be sure that what is new in Team Ninja will hardly disappoint you. Do not miss it .
We performed this review thanks to a digital copy provided by Sony. We have played Nioh on a PlayStation 4 Pro.