Daija Marrow | Staff Writer
Team Ninja, the creator of the “Ninja Gaiden” series, has developed the RPG title “Nioh,” set in the warring states period of Japan. The conflict revolves around a stone called the Amrita which gives its wielder great spiritual abilities. In an attempt to gain such power, a malevolent alchemist steals the Spirit Guardian of the main protagonist, William.
Since childhood, William has had access to the spirit world. Now he traverses through Japan, killing yokai, looting chests and creating spiritual alliances in pursuit of his friend. Although this PS4 exclusive has been compared to "Dark Souls" and "Bloodborne," it has a select set of aspects that make its own.
The in depth story is one, accompanied by the combat mechanics and other in game elements.
Upon starting the game, the player defeats their first boss before being taught the basics of combat and ki use.
William has three stances that can be used to differentiate combat style and strength. There is a high, mid, and low option displayed in the HUD at the lower right.
There are enemies that require William to be in a certain stance for contact to be made, such as those who crouch. It is possible to hit them in mid stance, but contact is rare, wasting stamina and leaving an opening for strike. Some stamina can be regained with a well timed R1 which releases a Ki pulse following an attack. When Yokia are around they release a toxin that sapps health and stamina regeneration. Both require good timing and familiarity, so honing these skills early in the game is recommended if one hopes to succeed in defeating later bosses.
Another key tool within the game that shouldn’t be overlooked are the shrines. Since this is a sacred area, it will not activate when enemies are around. When the surroundings are secure, the option to pray appears, and upon doing so, William’s health, stamina and elixirs are automatically replenished. A big let down is this feature is that traveling between shrines is not possible. If enough exploration is done, there is usually a shortcut doorway that leads back to the first or second shrine, eliminating the need to fast travel.
Each map has at least one or more and at each Shrine are eight options: Level Up, Change Guardian Spirit, Receive Kodama Blessing, Call Back, Summon Visitor, Make Offering and Ready Jutsu.
Level Up is self explanatory. When defeating enemies William receives Amrita which is used to level up and every time one levels up, the Amrita required increases. When William dies, his Guardian Spirit stays where he died, protecting the Amrita. Without the Guardian Spirit the player cannot use their Living Weapon special ability that is explained in the tutorial. If the player decides to call back their guardian, they will lose the Amrita.
Throughout the maps, Kodama(adorable demons) who protect the shrine, are lost and when they are found they return to the shrine and add to the Kodama Blessings. Only one blessing at a time can be applied. Be sure not to accidently swing too close to the shrine and scare the tiny Kodama. If they are frightened they will vanish, disabling use of your resting point for a brief moment.
The intense atmosphere with yokai enemies and questionable allies make this title an interesting challenge while exploring Japan inspired fantasy lands. “Nioh” has elements that resemble “Dark Souls” from it’s shrines to its stat system, but the immersive story and rollercoaster difficulty make it a must play. That being said, this title resembles “Dark Souls,” but its difficulty depends on the player. It’s a title worth the time, but maybe not so much the dollar. Give it a month or two to drop in price.