I went into the PC version of Nioh knowing little about the game aside from it being inspired by Souls, and that the PlayStation 4 release was incredibly well-received. It was time to find out why. Now that I’ve experienced a couple of hours for myself, I can happily state that this game is what PC gamers need now that the Souls games are done, though the port leaves a lot to be desired.
As you may already know from its successful run on the PlayStation 4, Nioh takes the best elements of its genre and iterates on them in so many ways that it’s a bit overwhelming, even with the detailed tutorial.
My favorite mechanic is the stance adjustment to utilize at any point during combat. Up against a slow but sturdy enemy? Change your stance too low for weaker damage with a faster attack speed to keep them stunned. Have their health low? Switch to a high position to deal the killing blow in one swing. This combined with the vast variety of weapons means there’s always a new way to tackle a tough situation. On top of this are some more minute touches, like an active button press at the end of each swing returning some endurance.
That’s not to mention the addictive loot grind this game absolutely nails. Just about every enemy, box, and chest gave me a new piece of armor to consider or a weapon to test. I’m the type of person that spends a long time after each battle dissecting each stat and seeing which new piece is best for me. Nioh gives me more than enough chances to do so.
This is a mission-based game, and each level has multiple pathways, secrets, and collectibles to find. At this point, I know very little about these collectibles and how they are to be utilized for my benefit, but the sheer amount of them have me excited to learn. Of course, experience point hoarding and stat boosting play a big part in all of this - just like in any good ARPG.
While the game has been entirely playable, there are some issues with this port. First off, it’s missing some standard PC features like AA adjustment and mouse support - so you need to be using a controller. Alongside this, I’ve dealt with constant frame stuttering at points and ranges from 22 to 50 frames in some early areas running at 1080p. I have a 1050Ti paired with a 3rd generation i5, but even on lowered settings, I'll be holding a solid 55-60 for a while before suddenly dropping again for extended periods. Nioh’s recommended requirements are nothing to scoff at, but my machine should be running this game with few issues, especially in indoor areas.
Not only this, but the game was having constant issues with Nvidia ShadowPlay despite having built-in support for highlights. Pulling up the overlay resulted in either a crash or a black screen from which I can't escape. When I could finally get it to record without shutting down, the footage turned out jittery. I’m going to test later gameplay with OBS and some other recording software to try and nail this issue down.
Aside from these performance issues, Nioh’s gameplay has drawn me in enough to try and ignore them. Its story is still relatively unknown, but elements are revealing themselves slowly. A particular standout is in all the voices my character is hearing as I explore the world - ones that seem to recall horrific events from the past. While creepy, they intrigue me enough to want to keep going and for the overall story to come into effect.
Combat is challenging but fair. I’ve fought against other humans, feral zombies that poison me should I miss a swing and gigantic soul-sucking demons with attacks that force me to be moving at all times. Fortunately, you play as a quick character aided by a dodge dash, so it's not hard to outmaneuver most adversaries. The game has presented an almost overwhelming amount of information, but none of it seems unnecessarily convoluted.
There are multiple menus to sift through and terms to learn, but I look forward to studying the ins-and-outs of Nioh and eventually mastering its mechanics. It has enough nuances to stand out in the crowded action-RPG genre, and the few hours I’ve played seem to pave the way to a long, challenging, but ultimately rewarding experience. I just hope the port holds up as I keep moving deeper.
Our Nioh Complete Edition first impressions were conducted on PC via Steam with a code provided by the publisher.