I finished Nioh a few days ago, and had been meaning to do a quick postmortem post about it, but one thing and another came up.
Then I got another of Sony’s little “congratulations!” emails, which they send out occasionally. I’ve only gotten them for Bloodborne, Horizon, and now Nioh, so I guess they tend to skew towards titles that are console-exclusive and a little on the difficult side.
So let’s talk about Nioh real quick-like.
I mentioned a few days ago that I’d been surprised at how smoothly the game had been going after a particularly nasty boss fight in the third mission. I was expecting to hit a real cliff at some point, and, well…
…you know, this may be easier in graph form.
It turns out that the final story boss is just a little on the trickier side, because some of the cheesier tactics you can use on earlier bosses aren’t very helpful on him. It took me at least half a dozen tries – probably more, to be honest, but I wasn’t counting – before I figured out a way to take him out, and it’s a good thing that he dropped when he did because I was running out of the consumables that made up the core of my winning strategy.
As an aside, if there’s a Nioh 2, it should really restock your potions and such from the storeroom when you die. It restocks healing items by default, but that’s it.
Anyway, to explain the final dip on that graph, there’s another boss AFTER the credits, but he was a much less troublesome affair. Beating him unlocks the game’s NG+ mode, which I am not going to mess with because I suspect it would be very humbling.
With that said, I firmly believe that Nioh would be an excellent entry point for anyone looking to get in to Souls-like action RPGs. It guides you through a set of missions with fixed levels, so doesn’t have the often-lethal freedom of movement of the Souls games, where the designers delight in letting you accidentally stumble into situations you are not prepared for, it has a mini-map with an indication of what direction you are generally supposed to be heading in for your next objective, and you can even get items that make enemies, secrets, and treasure show up as dots on the mini-map.
While that last one sounds a little broken, I really treasured it for the “and, in this level, spiders will jump on you from the ceiling” level, because it let me see where the spiders were and shoot them off the ceiling with arrows BEFORE they jumped on me.
Furthermore, while there are a good half-dozen kinds of weapons, and each has three separate move sets depending on the stance you’re in, and you can really get deep into combos with switching stances and weapons and on and on and on… I got through almost every encounter in the game using a spear in mid stance. Enemies really like to run directly at you, and they are awfully vulnerable to being poked hard in the midsection with sharp objects.
Oh, and a little bit of investing in the game’s magic system will give you access to the “Sloth” spell, which lets you slow any enemy’s movements to a crawl for a few vital seconds, and you have a “Guardian Spirit” which is basically a berserk button that gives you massive temporary damage absorption and boosts your attack. You don’t have all of these tools from the very start of the game, but you can pick them all up after the first few missions.
So, seriously. I’m not downplaying the fact that this game will kill you with zero hesitation, but you can make it a lot more easy on yourself if you want to.
If I have a complaint – and, to prevent this from being a completely shameless rave post, I SHOULD have a complaint – it’s that Nioh is an amalgamation of the Souls games, Ninja Gaiden, and loot-based dungeon crawlers like Torchlight or Diablo, and that third bit is really not very fun. You are constantly drowning in loot, and sorting through all of the stuff I didn’t want and breaking it down into bits for selling and forging new things from the bits I didn’t sell took up WAY too much of my play sessions. It also meant that none of the loot was particularly memorable, because I’d pick up, say, a cool spear that shot lightning… and then, ten minutes later I’d get a slightly BETTER spear but this one catches things on fire, so I’d swap to the fire spear, and then I’d get a neat sword and have to decide whether I wanted to stick with spears or give swords a try, and there are a ton of different stats and percentage modifiers and situational buffs with none of them being terribly well-explained…
Well, that was a lot of words to say that I wasn’t a big fan of the loot system. But the rest is great, and I strongly recommend it. Just don’t give up when the third boss kicks you in the teeth a few times. She’s just there to make sure you’ve understood everything the game has been trying to teach you up to that point.