May 1, 2016
'Nioh' Alpha Demo: Team Ninja's Action RPG Game Is Hard, Fun, And Promising

Nioh, Team Ninja's latest action-RPG game for the Playstation 4, is looking quite promising.

The Alpha Demo was released on April 26, just days ago, giving players a new experience in a dark and difficult world. Set in Japan, the game follows the story of main character William and the war that he has to hack and slash his way through. Initially sporting nothing but a mariner's outfit, he finds himself in the thick of battle among man and demon alike. But, this is not your average slice and dice game. Nioh is challenging, demanding, and visually impressive. Some have called it a variation of Dark Souls, but it's arguably so much more than that.

While Nioh has only been out for a short time, many first impressions state that the game is far more than a Dark Souls copy. It utilizes many elements that are similar: stamina (in this case, ki), an equip system that slows the player down depending on the weight of their gear, and a durability element which causes the player's weapon to break if it is not repaired. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Nioh's combat is set apart due to the importance of stamina, punishing or aiding players depending on how they approach various enemies. There's also the ability to change to multiple stances, ranging from a high katana stance to a low one. This allows William to attack according to the player's preference. William is able to make use of a plethora of weapons, including katanas, spears, hammers, and axes. All of them have their own moveset, and all of them require a certain caution when tackling enemies. There are light and heavy attacks, mapped to the square and triangle buttons, respectively. Forbes reports that stamina plays a huge part in being successful in completing the demo; it governs running, defending, and attacking. Overexert, and this leaves William open for punishment. Fortunately, enemies will suffer the same fate if the player can manage to deplete their stamina and strike accordingly.

Nioh also gives the player the ability to choose between better frame rate or better resolution, an option that leaves the preference of performance to the player. Eurogamer has reported that two resolutions are available, but 1080p increases the beauty of the game at the cost of a lesser frame rate. Nioh sees an average of around 30 to 40 frames per second with this option, and the difference is evident; the controls are less responsive, and there are moments where the frames dip lower in certain areas. A 720p resolution lends more toward an increased frame rate at the cost of visuals. In this mode, there is a more consistent frame rate of about 55 frames per second. As you can see, this leaves optimization to be desired.

The general impression on Nioh is that the graphics hover somewhere between last-gen and current. Of course, this is only the alpha demo. The final product will yield much more in the way of visuals and gameplay, so players can expect to be greeted with much more when the final product is complete. It should also be noted that the PlayStation 4 Neo, Sony's latest rumored console that is said to pack more power than the current PlayStation 4, could play a hand in Nioh and other games that may be in the works. Much remains to be seen and heard in regards to details about console specifics, but it's safe to say that frame rate would hardly be an issue for any title associated.

Players will have access to the Nioh alpha demo until May 5, giving them plenty of time to experience this dark, samurai-esque action game. It has also been noted that completing the demo will unlock a special item when the full game arrives, an incentive for players to go through the demo in its entirety.

Have you played the demo? Tell us your thoughts about the game and your impressions in the comments below.

[Image via Team Ninja/Koei Tecmo]