Nioh has had a long road to get to where it is now. Originating as a film project by the late Akira Kurosawa it eventually became a game by Koei ( later Koei Tecmo) but it was filled with development problems from the start. Finally, the game was given to Team Ninja who not only completed it, but crafted a fine experience. Nioh tells the story of William Adams, based on the real life sailor of the same name who went to Japan and was appointed a samurai by the Shogun. Adams was a fascinating man in real life, and his visit to japan had longstanding ramifications for the country, but that is not what we are here to talk about.
Nioh, the game, is a beautiful piece of work. This was evident from the first taste of the game people received, but Team Ninja just kept making it better. While some call this a Dark Souls clone, that is not fully accurate. It does take some influence from those games, but it also borrows elements from other series like Onimusha and Team Ninja’s own Ninja Gaiden. This is a very story driven game and that is apparent from the start. Before I played, I wondered why the developers made William an Irishman in the game, considering the historical Adams was English and there was cultural tension between the groups. But upon playing the game, I realized that the game takes not only from Japanese lore and mythology but also from elements of Celtic lore and myth. The similarities between the two cultures are played up and that was a nice touch.
But enough about that, let’s get to the gameplay. This is indeed a difficult game much like everyone says, but it is also extremely rewarding. You have to plan your every move and factor in your ki, but there are times where the game brings in some action elements unlike other similar games. It helps give Nioh a unique identity and feeling and that is appreciated. The different weapons and armor systems as well as the spirits must be balanced properly and this can be a struggle at first. But if you keep at it and realize what the game has to offer, this becomes one of the most enjoyable games ever played.
Visually the game is stunning and you can choose to have better visuals and a locked at 30 framerate or try for 60 fps but lose some visual quality at the expense of other visual enhancements. I do not have the PS4 Pro so I cannot comment on the boost the game gets from that hardware. I can comment that Nioh has some haunting music and excellent battle themes.
All in all, Nioh is amazing. With numerous historical domain characters including Yasuke, the historical black Samurai, who encounters William, to Hattori Hanzo and even more, the game weaves an excellent tale. It even takes the time to throw you for a loop more than once and shows that the developers did their research into history and mythology.
In conclusion, I give this my highest recommendations. This game is just absolutely excellent!