NiohNioh – A dark and fantastic world of 16th century Japan

Developed by Team Ninja, famous for the Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive series, Nioh is an action role-playing game that is available exclusively on the PlayStation 4. You’ll face off against other samurai in epic sword battles and intense, multi-target missions offering a level of difficulty that will test your skills, strategy, and patience. Get lost in a rich background story and deep immersive world that is set in a fictional Japan during the 16th century.

Filled with history and a wide variety of strange supernatural creatures from Japanese folklore such as Yokai, Nioh offers an exhilarating experience that will keep you hooked.

Game Details

Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Developer: Team Ninja (Koei Tecmo Games)
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Action role-playing
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)

A fictional war-torn Japan

Nioh is loosely based on the story of the first western Samurai, William Adams. The game takes place in a fictional 16th century Japan that has been overrun by Yokai, creatures from a supernatural realm. As William, a warrior who has traveled to the eastern regions, you will battle other samurai and Yokai in order to take back what was stolen from him.

Although the premise of Nioh’s story is simple, it is very effective. The story expands as William comes to the aid of several warlords, fighters and other important political figures.


Realistic combat

The first thing that I noticed when playing Nioh was its gameplay similarities with the Soul series of games (Dark Souls III). Nioh shares the same level of difficulty and there are similarities in the combat system. Make no mistake, any enemy can kill you in the blink of an eye. You must be patient, technically ready for battle, and know the strengths and weaknesses of your character.

Nioh‘s combat system is complex, effective, and offers a sense of accomplishment once you have mastered it. You have a number of long-range and short-range weapons to battle with including Katana, Dual Katana, Axe, Hammer, Spear, Bow, Rifle and more. Additionally, there are a number of secondary weapons that can you can use as well. You’ll want to think carefully which weapon you use, as it will heavily influence your combat style.

William has three combat stances: low, mid, and high—each that offer their own advantages. The default combat stance is the mid, it offers an excellent balance between attack and defense. The high combat stance will allow you to dish out the most damage but it is also the slowest, and your dodging and blocking are affected as well. On the other hand, the low stance allows you dish out attacks at a fast pace and your blocking and dodging speeds a greatly increased, but this stance also causes the least amount of damage.


Stamina is your Ki

Quiet possibly one of Nioh’s most defining gameplay features is the Ki gauge. This element is the single most important aspect of gameplay that will determine if you survive or die. Much like stamina, Ki is used for a variety of actions in Nioh such as attacks, blocks, running, and evading enemies.

When your Ki has been depleted, you are left stunned and vulnerable to attack. However, if timed right, you are able to replenish lost Ki with an action called Ki pulse. Additionally, the weight if your equipped armour also has an effect on your Ki. The heavier it is, that fast your Ki gauge will drain.

I cannot stress enough just how important the Ki gauge is in Nioh. It takes a little bit of getting use to and figuring out early on in the game. You’ll unlock the ability to summon Guardian Spirits, animals which combine health and Ki into a single meter, that will give you added stat boosts. It’s crucial that you have a good understanding of Ki and how it works.


An authentic post-medieval Japanese world 

Graphically, Nioh wont blow your socks off—most likely due to Nioh’s extended development that began as PlayStation 3 exclusive. That’s not to say that Nioh isn’t pretty. There are times when bosses and some of the post-medieval Japanese environments that you traverse are stunning. Team Ninja did an excellent job of creating an atmosphere that is completely engaging. It feels like you really are in a 16th century post-medieval Japan.

Both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro give you the ability to tailor your gaming experience to your personal preferences. Action Mode focuses on 60fps gameplay, 720p on PlayStation 4 and 1080p on PlayStation 4 Pro. Movie Mode focuses on 30fps gameplay with graphical fidelity, 1080p on PlayStation 4 and 2160p on PlayStation 4 Pro.


Multiplayer co-op

Nioh offers several online co-op options to choose from. Unfortunately, if you are looking to play the whole game with a friend mission by mission, you wont be able to unless they have already beaten the mission. If you need help on a certain mission, you can go to a shrine within the game and look for help from other players.

Alternatively, if you want to offer help to other Nioh players, once you have beaten a mission you can simply select “become a visitor”. Finally, to play with certain friends you can setup a password so that the player trying to help must have the password and the mission already completed.

Overall, finding multiplayer co-op missions was a relatively easy process, which only took a few seconds to join the session. Although I would have loved to be able to play with my friends online from start to finish without them having to complete the mission before hand, it’s something that could potentially be added later to the game from Team Ninja.


Final Thoughts

Make no bones about it, Nioh is a game that will test your patience, skill, and endurance. Be ready to die and then die again, over and over. I will admit, at times it was frustrating playing Nioh. But, no matter how many times I died, I felt compelled to jump right back into the thick of things.

If you are a fan of Bloodborne or Dark Souls III, then you are going to love Nioh. If you are looking for a game that will give you hours and hours of gameplay, contains a rich background story and deep immersive world—Nioh is a perfect fit.

+ Extensive RPG elements allow you to customize William’s abilities
+ Boss battles are epic
+ Deep strategic gameplay
+ Fast-paced combat
+ Over 70 hours of gameplay

– Some may find the level of difficulty of this game too much


Gameplay: 5/5
Graphics: 4/5
Sound: 5/5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5

Overall Rating 4.75/5 (95%)

Get Nioh for PlayStation 4

Jon Scarr
Jon is the Gaming Editor and is based in Toronto. He is a proud Canadian who has a serious passion for gaming. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry with over 20 years experience. You can often find Jon streaming the latest games on his YouTube channel. Jon loves to talk about gaming and tech, come say hi and join the conversation with Jon on Threads @4ScarrsGaming and @4Scarrsgaming on Instagram.