“Nioh” on the surface appears to be a clone of another popular Japanese game series, “Dark Souls.”
Both games have similar mechanics such as a summoning feature that allows players to call for help from other players when necessary and a shrine system that functions the same way bonfires do in the Souls games.
These games also possess comparable levels of difficulty, and are notorious for almost-sure-to-kill-you boss fights that are as satisfying to complete as they are stressful. There’s even a message that comes up when the player dies that seems like something from a Souls game.
Where the games differ is in the content they provide. By opting to start a new game, the player becomes William, a western man who winds up fighting demons, or “Yokai,” in feudal Japan.
There is an endless mission system within “Nioh” that ensures hours upon hours of content for each player to complete. This includes base missions, sub-missions and the remarkably intense “twilight missions” which add even more difficulty to an already face-punchingly-difficult game.
The highs of the game are the massive “Diablo”-like loot system of an incalculable number of weapons, armor drops that all vary slightly in stats and abilities and the replayability of the missions from the mission hub.
Those features along with the enemies and bosses all demand a tactical approach unless the player wants to die a horrible, untimely death.
The lows are the overused area layouts repeated multiple times throughout the game, in particular, the deserted town overrun by either bandits, Yokai or both. The other down point for the game is its story. Following along with the convoluted story is the real challenge behind the game.
There are a lot of similarities between the games, but that doesn’t mean “Nioh” is a cheap knockoff in any way. The game only borrows some of its mechanics from another successful game in the same genre without trying to mimic every aspect.
The “Dark Souls” series may have been the inspiration for “Nioh,” but the game is a stand-alone title any fan of brutally challenging RPGs should try.