Story and Gameplay
Originally released for the PS4 earlier this year, Nioh has been released to the PC masses as Nioh: Complete Edition which includes the full base game and all the DLC. While the PS4 version was fantastic, once again, choosing between high resolution graphics and/or smooth frame rate even on PS4 Pro was a bit of a mixed bag, especially for a title that relies on reflexes, timing, and precision. Either way, PC gamers don't have to worry about that any more as you can run at practically any resolution (with tweaks) and 60 FPS.
In a nutshell, in this very Dark Souls-esque title, you play as an Irish (!) Samurai named William as you scour the countrysides of Japan defeating insane creatures known as yōkai that are eager to hack and slash you to pieces. Make no mistake, Nioh is extremely difficult. There is help along the way but you can die very easily in the first few minutes of the game. As the game progresses YOU WILL die dozens if not hundreds of time. In that battle for risk comes defeat and frustration but upon beating tough enemies and obstacles, YOU WILL feel a sense of accomplishment. That is the formula that is so addictive for many fans of this genre. Nioh is very difficult but I found it even more so intriguing this time around.
The story though isn't the most interesting part of the game but rather all the weapons styles from axes, swords, spears and mainly others. Weight and styles definitely affect your agility and changes gameplay drastically. Do you want to be a light, nimble, sword-slashing ninja? Have at it but you won't be able to take many direct hits, especially with the games bigger enemies. Rather, you can be a huge heavy armor wearing, axe-wielding beast but you are going to slow and your attacks and recovery take quite a while to recharge. Either way, I feel the game is more balancing offense and defense while gaining loot which is an absolute blast.
Graphics and Sound
The mentioned visuals are absolutely gorgeous in some areas and a bit of a mixed bag in other areas. The fight shown above that takes place in a thunderstorm is epic to say the least. Swords flash, cling, and spark while huge cracks of thunder and lightning fill the sky. Dimly lit torches flicker and little rain drops splash in every direction. Later on in the game, some of the villages and fire effects look straight out of the PS2 era which isn't a dealbreaker but definitely distracting. Overall though, the game ran without a hitch and is truly a sight to behold... most of the time.
The audio is a mix of mostly subtitled Japanese audio clips and cut scenes with some English in the beginning areas. The effects are powerful and music ranges from subtle to epic Japanese orchestral pieces during the games more intense moments. Overall, this is a solid audio package along with the visuals
What Could Have Been Better
While I found Nioh to be intriguing and quite fun overall to play, there are a few gripes that I have, especially about level design. As mentioned, some of the stages look and feel fantastic not only to find the many hidden secrets but to take the risk of exploring without losing all your Amarita (think Souls). Some of the beginning levels are very tedious to navigate and the dull caves and fire burnt buildings cause more frustration than fun.
Also, some of the difficulty spikes are so out of whack that while fun, it feels like it's more punishment. You may have an enemy that takes 3-4 hits to kill and then all of sudden someone from behind hits you that takes half your life and they take 9-10 hits to kill. I get that the game is supposed to be tough but some of it just feel cheap.
In the end, if you love(d) the Dark Souls series, you will love Nioh. If you love anything Japanese/samurai-esque, you may love Nioh if you can take the difficulty. While I first found more frustration than fun, I promise that if you stick through it and hone your skills, you will find something to love about the game. It's gorgeous in most areas, the characters and creatures are unique and it's overall a very polished game, especially with all the DLC and patches. Nioh: Complete Edition is available on Steam now for $49.99 as of time of writing.