“Soulslike” is a term that is being tossed around a lot lately. Ever since FROM SOFTWARE’s “Dark Souls” stormed the gaming world and revitalized the hardcore genre of games and brought it into mainstream gaming, many games have tried to recreate its formula and its success.
“Nioh” is the most recent of those attempts, and hopes to take what was great about the “Souls” series and give it its own identity. Luckily for “Nioh,” it adapts the formula well and is just as fun to play.
“Nioh” is an interesting game to say the least. Originally announced in 2006 for the Playstation 3, it faced a development period of over ten years, making it even more surprising that its weird and quirky elements came together so well.
The combat is straight from the “Souls series,” with a third person camera and the player relying on good timing with blocking and dodging to defeat extremely large and difficult bosses.
“Nioh,” however, introduces a “stance” system, which switches between fighting styles to focus on speed, power, and a balance between the two. The combat itself is more fast paced as well, likening it to what was seen in “Bloodborne” rather than “Dark Souls.”
The most unique aspect is “Nioh’s” presentation. While “Dark Souls” had a medieval verging on gothic setting and “Bloodborne’ was set in the Victorian 1800s, “Nioh” goes back to 1600 fictional Japan and follows the story of real British explorer William Adams. This leads to samurai, ninja and a world full of Japanese lore and quirks. One moment you’re fighting a giant flaming wheel with two faces and the next you’re speaking to your talking spirit cat about it.
“Nioh” also focuses more on story, providing full text and cut-scenes between each mission, which had me more invested in the narrative as a whole.
“Nioh” is an excellent game. Its combat is simple yet deep, has an interesting narrative and is extremely hard but never feels unfair for the most part.
The Japanese aesthetic is very welcome and the faster combat feels more fun in my opinion. I highly recommend “Nioh” to fans of Japanese mythology, the Souls series, or those who want a difficult, but fun, experience.