Nioh Is Team Ninja’s Take on the Dark Souls Formula

A perfect fit for Team Ninja, really.

Nioh, first announced over a decade ago, and then suddenly reannounced for a worldwide release next year, has had some gameplay shown off at this year’s TGS. It hasn’t been made playable to show attendees, but fairly extensive gameplay clips have been released and streamed by Koei Tecmo.

Not terribly surprisingly, considering what the initial trailer looked like, the game appears to be Team Ninja’s attempt to work with the Dark Souls formula with just a smattering of Onimusha, and it looks lovely. Combat appears to share that series’ trademark sense of weight and focus on timing and dodging rather than wildly attacking. Weapons can be switched on the fly, with typical fantasy mainstays such as swords, bows, and spears being usable, though there doesn’t seem to be any shield usage in the game, all weapons seem to be two-handed.

Just like in Dark Souls, you’ll walk to specific locations in order to level up, in this case, shrines. Additionally, when you die, you appear to lose onhand experience and must go to the place where you died in order to retrieve what you’ve lost, and you can see markers indicating where other players have died. This is, however, where Nioh‘s first big twist on the formula appears. When you look at other players’ death markers, you have several options, rather than just viewing how that player died, including the ability to summon a monster to that death marker which you can find to gain treasures and items. When you go back to your own death marker, indicated by a wolf, you can seemingly summon that wolf in order to gain a strength boost in combat.

There are a few differences here and there, and the game doesn’t seem to be showing its entire hand just yet, there’s an element on the UI showing the moon, and what it does hasn’t been made clear just yet, as well as a couple of other changes here and there, but otherwise, this looks very much like Dark Souls via Team Ninja.

That’s great news, really. Team Ninja has suffered a recent decline in the reception of their games, in part because they’ve made a big effort to make things far more accessible. Ninja Gaiden 3 was panned for stripping all depth from the series’ combat, and nothing else they’ve done sans Dead or Alive 5 has been terribly notable in recent years. That’s why seeing them return to making an action game that appears very technical, and will likely be very hard, slots right in with their typical ethos. Team Ninja absolutely has the knowhow to make this formula work in a way that feels wholly unique to them while borrowing heavily from an established and beloved franchise, so Nioh should be one to watch in the coming months.

You can check out a few minutes of gameplay right here:

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