With the combined powers of Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja, another ancient Japanese tale takes the spotlight as the company released an alpha demo for Ni0h, a hack and slash game that has already garnered comparisons to Dark Souls.
The alpha demo for Nioh, released on April 29 and will run until May 9, wouldn’t have made it where it was today if it were not because of the resilience of its creators. To make the long story short, Nioh was originally set to be released as a run of the mill hack and slash game similar to a lot of Tecmo Koei’s titles. Originally titled Oni, the game had a script and more or less an idea that sparked some attention when presented to the public in 2004. However, these ideas were scrapped for the time being and wasn’t given much attention thereafter. Fast forward bit over a decade and we have Nioh.
Even for just a demo, there’s plenty of detail elaborated through the first level and, surprisingly, it begets replay value. Players traverse from a shore off an island and make their way through abandoned houses, forests small soldier stations and mansions, all filled with human and otherworldly foes. Since the setting is based in the Edo period, there are tons of Japanese elements in the game. The variety of weapons that your character gets to use range from samurai swords to giant hammers, players get to draw Amrita from small tombstones and golden shrines and even the different fighting stances are on point with ancient Japanese samurai mannerisms.
Throughout, players are able to level up their character attributes, learn new moves for each weapon type and gradually build on the right combination of weapons and armor through enemy drops. The game also takes a page out of the Dynasty Warriors book and allows players to embed their weapons with elemental attributes such as fire and lighting once their Amrita meter fills up.
Armor weight and weapon choice matter in Nioh, but stamina is a huge make-or-break factor in the game. Every swing, roll and spring will use up your stamina, block holds the stamina bar at a particular spot based on how much you’ve used and simply standing or moving around without sprinting will replenish it. Enemies have stamina too, which is a great factor to consider when you’re up against one or two guys at once or when you’re clashing metal with, say, a heavily armored guard wielding a giant hammer.
Players will find themselves dying a lot, similar to any other “die, die and die again” games that you might have come across. Tecmo Koei and Team Ninja however realize that great rewards are for those who persevere, thus giving players an extra mission and other bonus DLC content after completing the first level.
With only the alpha demo to work with, it can be pretty easy to cast off this project as a mimic to Dark Souls simply because to it’s difficulty in combat. On the contrary, Ni0h doesn’t emit many similarities to Hidetaka Miyazaki’s brainchild, but rather works on the foundation of it’s difficulty while adding the Dynasty Warrior’s like aesthetic and flavor that Tecmo Koei is known for creating. I would even go far as to say that this almost seems like a reboot of Tenchu: Stealth Assassins with a sprinkle of ghoulish, zombie-like enemies.
Nioh seems like it’s aimed toward fans who want a different Bloodborne or Dark Souls feel in their life, and so far, it’s doing a great job. We’ll have to see how the complete game looks with the project slated to drop later this year.