Face-Off: Nioh on PS4 and PS4 Pro

The last two months have been remarkable for fans of Japanese games and with the release of Nioh for PlayStation 4, the trinity of highly anticipated, long in-development games is now complete. We’re, of course, talking about Final Fantasy 15 and The Last Guardian – two games that, along with Nioh, were first announced more than a decade ago. All three games have undergone a significant transformation since then but perhaps none more than Nioh. What we have in the end is a dark, brutally difficult action game that combines the best elements of Ninja Gaiden and Dark Souls into one remarkable package. This is, simply put, Team Ninja’s return to form.

At first glance, Nioh is a visually conservative game – one that pushes modern post-processing effects and cutting-edge rendering techniques off to the side in favour of a more reserved presentation. It won’t leave your jaw on the floor by any means, but over time, it leaves a strong impression. In many ways, it feels like an evolution of what Team Ninja started with the 2004 iteration of Ninja Gaiden – sharp, clean lines and detailed texture work combine with fast, fluid animation to great effect. Rather than relying on features such as parallax occlusion mapping, for instance, Nioh instead adds surface detail through sheer geometric density taking a page from Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne, in a sense. Large, rocky surfaces undulate convincingly while fully modeled tiles make up the ground on which you walk.

Nioh simply oozes with atmosphere thanks to stylised lighting and weather effects. The rain-swept village encountered early on fills the screen with droplets which, using a screen-space technique, take on light from surrounding torches and attacks. Texture work is solid with plenty of detail slathered across each scene while specular highlights allow for dynamic lighting to play nicely off the detailed terrain. Character models feel like an evolution of what we’ve come to know from Team Ninja with rounded edges and clean lines. You’ll run across a handful of low resolution assets here and there but the overall appearance is solid.

Watch Johnny learn how to stay alive in Nioh

When Nioh at last year’s Tokyo Games Show, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed – mainly because the trailer’s opening seconds made me think there was a new Onimusha on the way. Having had time to adjust, I played a new demo section of Team Ninja’s upcoming action game last week, and I’m pleased to report that Nioh is looking very robust indeed.

The demo section, a level cheerfully titled Defiled Undead Mountain, is a tricky beast stuffed with foot soldiers and Yokai; intimidating creatures pulled straight from the annals of Japanese folklore. And while I enjoyed having a new section of the game to sink my teeth into, I also found it a surprisingly instructive experience – which is a polite way of saying I died a lot before I got the hang of things.

With these lessons fresh in mind, I’ve knocked together a couple of useful tips to help you get started with the game when it launches next month; you can also get a good look at the Defiled Holy Mountain along the way.

Here’s what’s coming to Switch you may have missed

The game announcements came hard and fast during Nintendo’s Switch reveal this morning and while we’ve covered the big first-party stuff, there are plenty of third-party games that got lost in the shuffle. Some were announced on the stream, while others were revealed via Twitter, blog posts, and press releases. At any rate, here’s what’s confirmed for Nintendo Switch:

Fire Emblem Warriors, the next Musou game from Omega Force and Team Ninja. It’s due this holiday season.

A new Square RPG from the Bravely Default Team. It !

Nioh director Fumihiko Yasuda on difficulty, player feedback and what’s changing

Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo’s samurai action game Nioh has had quite the development history. and finally coming to PS4 early , the historical fantasy title has changed hands several times with multiple developers re-jigging it into all sort of different beasts.

In its final iteration Team Ninja (of Ninja Gaiden fame) is at the helm and based on its public beta a few weeks back, it’s shaping up to be .

To gain further insight into how Nioh’s adapted over the years, what it’s morphing into, and how Team Ninja incorporates fan-feedback while still retaining its creative vision, we spoke to Nioh’s creative director Fumihiko Yasuda at Tokyo Game Show. That conversation, conducted via translator, went a little something like this: