Oh. You thought that "Dear Xbox" post was a joke? Nah, nah. Real. Alright. All jokes aside I was planning to get a PS4 from the get go but I pissed that away on an Xbox One and then I found a really cool guy to trade with me. As luck would have it the games he gave me, plus the Xbox One games I forgot to mention I had to the guy so I just kept them, as well as an amazing move from my past self putting some money on my GameStop card I had enough to buy this game. And let me tell you this game was totally worth an entire console and about five games. I was actually really looking forward to this and it was one of the main reasons I decided to get a PS4... apart from all the other sensible reasons. Well, I can't throw shade at Microsoft for this entire review... or can I? Ah well I guess I'll just get to the review.
God where do I start? First off the graphics are really good and I don't just mean from a "Ya this game makes the rest of the games I've played until now look like total crap." I'm a man of substance and what I want is art and style. And this game has it in spades. First off its not content JUST to look real good but also make the game look interesting and unique. Keep in mind I just have a standard PS4 so I have no idea what those PS4 Pro people are seeing. There's a lot of small and minute details that I'm not really going to get into. Just think the particles, the graphics, the character designs, monster designs, areas, visuals and really anything that has to do with the eyes hits really well. I will say there is a nice juxtaposition between the 'mortal' and 'immortal' stuff in the game. If that sounds weird just think of it as all of the normal stuff, while it has its own style unto itself, is very basic across the board in the sense that it makes sense and has a baseline you can track pretty well. Basically human characters all look similar yet unique unto themselves. However, the monsters are amazing. They all have their own unique design which fits well into Japanese mythology and that's not even mentioning the bosses or the spirits you can have throughout the game. You know that whole 'Ubisoft Effect' where a game looks noticeably worse from the trailer to release? Well that really isn't the case here and I'm super glad about it.
A lot of people will compare this to Dark Souls but I honestly think its better in every way. The story is... well there actually is a story. Combat is deeper and varied with great levels. Every single enemy is a challenge even until you max out your character so every encounter is a life and death matter even when you can one shot them if you forget to use all of the mechanics properly or effectively. The bosses themselves are challenging, rewarding and just the right amount of bullshit to piss you off enough to take them out in the most badass way possible.
One of the biggest problems I have with Dark Souls in general is the player interactions. Most times I would just be going through a level and have some random asshole stop me in my tracks to either kill me or cut down my healing items right before a boss fight. While they've said the game will have PvP in the future the way that coop works right now is amazing. First off you never have to worry about bs like summoning a person only to have them immediately leave because they were waiting for a friend or some other stupid reason. In any given stage, provided they have a shrine to use, you can summon a random player who will assist you using a consumable item. Sure this person could leave but so far I've never had a person do that. You also can only summon a person who's already beaten the level you're on so there's this idea of an experienced person helping you with your fight rather than some idiot who wants to put their sign down to use you as a test to gauge how strong the fight will be. Players who want to coop with others can do so via a sort of hub world. You can randomly match yourself or specifically choose which mission to fight in. There's also another mode where you and another player can go side by side in a mission together and fight for the same goal. If one player dies you lose a bit of a shared life bar that when depleted means both players lose. You can also revive each other or yourselves in this mode so its not a one hit type deal. When I found myself stuck on a certain level or needing more level up material I'd do this missions and then keep doing them over and over again because they were just so damn fun to play.
In Dark Souls you have a set amount of equipment. The sword you pick up from a fallen enemy will always be the same sword another player could pick up. Which is fine but Nioh does it a whole lot better. When you kill most enemies they will drop equipment, ranging from general items to unique armor and weapons. You can increase the likely hood of dropped items through various ways and also increase the possibility of finding rarer items. In one mission you get this really powerful katana that does lightning damage. If you stack up enough lightning damage on an opponent they can actually be slowed for a while, so its a great item to get your hands on, especially for how early on in the game it comes. However, if you do the mission again you will get another sword with the same lightning damage but a few extra and possibly better stats. You can also randomly change the stats using an in game blacksmith so if you got a rare weapon or piece of armor but don't like one or more of the stats you can change them with a bit of money. There's also no upgrading weapons outside of getting better ones and sacrificing them to make your weapon stronger. So you could literally start the game out with a level 1 weapon and take it all the way into the final boss and even the New Game Plus and still have it do a lot of damage, however I wouldn't recommend this but to each his own. You have to actively find better weapons do to this too so you can't just farm the first level endlessly and expect to get much of anywhere.
Unlike in Dark Souls 3, every single build you could possibly make can be viable. While you unfortunately can't be a pure magic caster (though I would love to see that) you can specialize in a lot of areas. My first build revolved around using a single blade. Then I found out how awesome using two blades was and started going for that. After seeing a build video online I respeced my character and turned him into a more magic focused character. Since essentially every single player can act the same role it becomes more of a support role if you like magic or ninjutsu and an attacker if you just want to smash things with a massive hammer/axe, sweep with a spear or dice with swords. There was a lot of moments in Dark Souls where I was with a magic focused character and once their magic ran out they were about as useless as a wet napkin with about the same amount of durability as one as well. However, in this game I let my attacker take the initiative while I pop a few buffs, throw some spells at my opponent to give them a quick status reduction (making the fight easier for both of us) then rush in when I see they're taking some heat and dish out my own. See the skills in this game don't keep you from doing stuff they just make you better at it. In Dark Souls if you had a low strength stat you just couldn't use a lot of weapons. In this game you need those stats to unlock the traits of weapons and armor. My magic character can't have all the nice special effects that my strength armor requires but I can still wear it and get the defense I need for a fight. My weapon still does about 300+ damage even if I'm not getting the extra bits from the stats so I do a nice amount of damage so I don't hinder my partner or myself through the game. I personally like it because its not a detractor. "You don't have enough strength? Shame. Guess you won't get that extra damage/defense boost. But hey, the armor looks cool and still works!" If you're especially good at the game you can go completely barehanded and steal other people's weapons to use against them. I'm not good at this but I'm sure someone is doing it and looking insanely badass.
If I had to pick one thing I wasn't too happy about its the fact you can't really make your own character. The main character is William. An insanely handsome Irish pirate who looks a lot like Geralt of Rivia. Eventually you can change your hairstyle in like three different ways, as well as your beard and eventually have the ability to transmogrify yourself into a few of the in game characters. So if you didn't like his look then you just have to play around twenty hours into the game just to gain this ability! Also kill a whole bunch of dudes but you're in twenty hours so I already presumed you did.
At the end of it this is a finely crafted masterpiece. Every time I hit a wall and thought about stopping there was something that helped me along. Whether it was the idea that I had an amazing game on my hands or just the various avenues to go forward I really couldn't say. Its just a shame this game isn't on PC because I really want to play this game forever and I hope a lot more people feel the same way twenty years from now. But then again Demon's Souls still has active players even to this day so, who knows? Maybe my wish will come true.
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