Nioh Could Be Team Ninja's Dark Souls Killer

Nioh Could Be Team Ninja's Dark Souls Killer

Prepare to die as a samurai

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Previews on

Now that gamers have sunk their teeth into Dark Souls III, here's a new IP to get excited about. After playing Nioh's alpha demo, it's clear that this game is going to be incredible. However, does it have what it takes to convert dedicated Souls fans?

Nioh screenshot 1
With a dark setting like this, you'd think FromSoftware had something to do with it

Recently, many game developers have been trying to copy the addictive formula of Dark Souls. 2014's Lords of the Fallen ironically fell short of emulating its greatness while Salt and Sanctuary masterfully reimagined it as a 2D experience. FromSoftware (the developers of the Souls series) even created an entirely new game with their established gameplay blueprint in the form of last year's Bloodborne. Now, Team Ninja is attempting to build upon traditional Dark Souls gameplay with Nioh. I must say, I wasn't expecting the developers of Dead or Alive to be following this trend but I'm glad that they are. Keep in mind; they also developed the phenomenal Ninja Gaiden so that should only solidify gamers' trust in their handling of this new IP.

Upon completing Dark Souls III, I was slightly disappointed. Don't get me wrong, it's a great game but most of it felt far too familiar to be exceptional. Therefore, after I started playing the demo for Nioh, my jaw dropped at how awesome it was. So, let me share what I think about the project so far. I'll cover some highlights and even a couple of areas where they can improve.

Nioh screenshot 2
Sniping enemies is even more satisfying with the ability to one-hit kill

The best part of Nioh by far is its combat system. You play as a samurai named William who can equip various katanas, spears, and axes. Each weapon type has its own set of moves and upgradable abilities which is cool but what takes the combat to a higher level is the stance system. By simply holding R1 and tapping the face buttons, you can switch between three stances (high, mid, and low) and sheathe or unsheathe your steel. This dynamic allows you to take advantage of the many different enemies by being able to deploy entirely distinct arrays of attacks. These enemies are no pushovers, either. Whereas you could memorize attack patterns in Dark Souls, fighting the samurais in Nioh feels more like you're battling online players. If you're ever stuck then you can go into a fury when your spirit gauge is full. It's absolutely thrilling and I haven't felt this immersed in an action RPG since I picked up Demon's Souls years ago.

Amazing combat system aside, Nioh features many familiar elements that Dark Souls fans will embrace. Collecting Amrita from defeated enemies and such acts as the game's souls as it allows you to level up. You do so at shrines which are a lot like bonfires. You also have a stamina meter to ensure that you don't attack like crazy without any consequence. I found running out of stamina to be quite harsh as William stops to catch his breath thus making himself vulnerable to attack. A nifty mechanic are the bloodstains (called bloody graves here) which let you fight ghosts of players who have died in that spot as opposed to just watch how they died.

Nioh screenshot 3
Don't make William angry or else you'll feel his fiery rage

My biggest issue with the Nioh demo is that the camera can be very annoying. When facing enemies in narrow areas, it's difficult to see what's going on as the camera tries to point at the action but fails. Also, when you're locked on to an enemy, sometimes William misses even if the enemy is right there in front of him. To remedy this, I took a short break between each attack to make sure that he's centered but I wish that I didn't have to do this. Finally, the online component is rather broken in its current state. While playing Dark Souls online, the characters move fluidly for the most part while they jump all over the place here. Not only that, enemies even glitched around whenever I had someone play with me. I really hope they fix these issues thoroughly before the full game releases.

Nioh screenshot 4
Summon all the allies you want, these bosses will still be tough!

Although there's currently no release date for Nioh, you can look forward to playing it on your PlayStation 4 sometime down the road. Stay tuned for more coverage and leave a comment below to let the world know what you think of this very promising game.

Official trailer for Nioh 1:53

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