After enjoying much success amongst the hardcore PS4 gaming brigade at the start of this year, Koei Tecmo has released Nioh Complete Edition on PC. This version contains all of the PS4 content including three expansions, Dragon of the North, Defiant Honor, and Bloodshed’s End. There is also a PC exclusive “Dharmachakra Kabuto” helmet as well. Essentially it’s the same lovely game except with some added extras in the graphics department, mostly the option to play native 4K at 60 frames per second if you have the right hardware that is.
So, to recap the story a little, players assume the role of lone traveler Adam Williams who is the first Englishman to reach Japan back at the start of the 17th century. After a meeting with Alchemist Edward Kelley in the Tower of London during the game’s opening section, Edward steals Adam’s guardian spirit with the aim of using it to search for powerful Amrita stones for the glory of the Queen’s presence overseas. However, there is more at stake in Japan than hunting down a stolen Guardian spirit as Adam becomes embroiled in a plot to unify Japan under a singular rule by the great Tokugawa Ieyasu. However, upon Adam’s arrival in Japan, he is confronted by numerous supernatural warriors called Yokai who are simply asking to be taken out. Having shown some skill at killing Yokai, Adam is approached by the Master Ninja Hattori Hanzo who promises to help him in return for slaying more powerful Yokai. And so, the adventure begins.
The core gameplay is totally reminiscent of From Software’s Dark Souls series (with a touch of Capcom’s Onimusha), in fact is uncannily similar by way of design. However, the pace feels a lot less technical and allows players to dive in and get slaughtered quite readily. What makes the game different is the fact you play as one character with the option to tailor Adam how you see fit each time you level up. There are several paths to take but the option is there to simply make an all-rounder type if you so choose. This means you get the benefit of being an accomplished fighter who can also dish out some magic punishment and create spells. There are a variety of weapons as well comprising of ranged and melee which can be changed on the fly offering players choice in how they wish to fight. Coupled with various stances to suit playing styles and enemy types you have a game which might appear overwhelming at first, but does begin to show its depth some hours in once there is a little understanding of how things are supposed to work (thanks in part to some tutorial missions).
Gameplay consists of much dying or sneaking around every corner in an attempt to get the drop on enemies before they can lunge out taking most of your health in the process. Running makes noise (depending on what armour you opt to choose) and draws the enemy’s attention. The real essence here though is a little mixture of trial and error. Move deeper into enemy territory, get killed, try again and learn from past experience. Some levels are maze like and getting to the next check point can be tricky although there are tools you can use to help with this if desired. You can level up Adam and play a little game of simply farming areas to give you a greater chance of success, but progression is fairly slow to begin and with side missions available as well means there is a lot to get through. Pressing forwards merely has the advantage of offering more powerful foes which in turn levels Adam up quicker than farming lesser foes – choices choices. Once you have equipped Adam with nice gear and weapons then the standard enemies become a little less stressful. However, what game would be complete without bosses to mess with your head. At first these might appear to be overpowered, unforgiving
In terms of visuals Nioh looks grand with some excellent locations during various times of day showing off impressive lighting and shadow effects. You will bear witness to some fine looking wet weather effects too creating moody and intimidating locales to venture forth. There are some dodgy looking texture details in abundance if focusing too much on the environment, but generally the overall design and effectiveness of the effects makes for a lovely looking game in places. In 4K at 60 frames per second this is the real deal and feels great if you’re able to crank up the settings. With a GTX 1080 Ti this is entirely possible.
Audio is also of a high standard with special note to the eerie music playing at the most opportune moments. In some ways the approach almost feels survival horror. Adam’s accent is a little weird (for an Englishman) and sound more Irish by our reckoning, but this is a minor detail and not the focus here, despite there being some wonderful cutscenes.
With everything on offer here in this package including online co-op/multiplayer, players can expect to delve well into double figures play time here and far beyond. Whilst each level is actually not as large as may first appear, it’s the journey there which takes the time. For the price of entry, the cost is well suited to the potential hours played here. What’s more, unless you are a godly gamer you won’t be able to just rush through. Taking one’s time is key here, this is not a hack ‘n’ slash game.
Nioh is an enjoyable game on its own merits regardless of the similarities with other games. It’s a fun but sometimes frustrating romp through 17th century Japan. That said, it’s not a game for everyone, especially those with high blood pressure or who are prone to rage-quitting / controller throwing. There is enough here to test your resolve and patience which in turn elongates the experience. The learning and respect one gains though is well worth the ride through this very cool, and lovely looking game.