Nioh is a very hard game, like seriously you die, and die, then slam your controller into the wall, and then die again. I love games like this, as it challenges your senses, and teaches you how to fix your errors by learning from your past mistakes. We reviewed the game a while back, and Mr. Minnie had nothing but praise for Nioh. However, I think it time to tackle the game's broken mechanics. (Read Nioh Review – My Perfectly Cut Hōseki).
An unpolished Dark Souls experience
Nioh is a Japanese-skinned Dark Souls, but it often lacks the polish of a Souls game, and at times its difficulty can be a bit overwhelming. There were many times where I felt that the boss fights, especially the fight against the Warrior of the West, was extremely unbalanced. The game runs on a Ki system, which is similar to stamina in Dark Souls. This fight showed the game's poor polish during this boss fight, as he could spam attacks without any Ki in his bar all. Meanwhile, every other creature and character cannot execute attacks without Ki. If you try do the same thing, you place yourself in a vulnerable position and open to attack.
It was evident during this fight that the developers went for sheer brutality in the difficulty just because they could. Other fights I have been in have had a balance to them, other that the odd one-hit kill from an axe-wielding skeleton. Then there is a boss fight that makes you question the game's balance completely, like the Warrior of the West.
In all things … let there be balance
The same can then be said about unbalanced character skills, one of these is the Sloth Talisman that allows you to cast an ability at an enemy which reduces their speed by 50% for 30-seconds. It gives you an advantage in any fight, even boss fights. Many of the hardest enemies and bosses in the game are either small and fast or big and slow, which gives this talisman an advantage in any situation.
I am not complaining about this talisman; I am just concerned in how it made it into the game, and how the developers thought that being able to slow down anything you are faced, would be ideal for the game's design.
No, you cannot play with your friends
I hate to compare the game again to Dark Souls, but it went for the Dark Souls mechanics, so it is asking to be compared to it. Another thing that makes Nioh's gameplay questionable over Dark Souls is its untactful way of just pushing the difficulty envelope without even offering any help at all. You'll notice that the devs changed the game's co-op drastically at launch. In the beta, you could invite friends to play co-op with you, and there were no restrictions who you played with, regardless of how far you were in the game.
In the name of 'difficulty'
The same unfortunately cannot be said about the main game, as the developers thought that your first playthrough of the game was meant to be a single-player experience. The only time you can invite friends to your game is if you have completed the mission your friend is on. It means that if you have hardcore Nioh players around,as I do myself, you have to wait for them to deal with the sheer brutality of the game alone, before the can help you in your mission. Sure, you can search for randoms who might be matchmaking for that set mission, but I was never able to find anyone to help me with even the earliest missions in the game.
It is a sad situation where a developer would sell out to make a game so hard, just because they wanted it to be harder than Dark Souls. Being completely honest, this is the case with Nioh, as the more I play it, and the more things don't gel together, I realize that some things in the game are thoughtless additions for the sake of difficulty.
Why would you limit players to playing alone, and then only offer them the choice to play the missions again from the start with a friend? It does not make sense. It is a wasted game feature. Walking in a boss fight and he immediately shoots a beam that does over 5k damage, and one-shots you before you can even dodge as you are still in a frozen position from loading in, is poor game polish.
Having to suffer through a level alone, to have to replay the entire level again to help a friend, is a thoughtless feature. It gets even worse though as everyday there are daily re-skinned missions that are even harder than the original missions, called Twilight Missions. These are the same levels of missions you have completed along your journey. Even these missions, which you have completed in the past, and are three times harder, cannot be played at all with friends. You have to complete the main mission, then the Twilight version of the mission, and then only cam you do it again with a friend. Frustrating I know.
It is not like the loot drops, and item finds you get while replaying these missions with your friend are even worth it in the end. Often if you are helping a friend out, you are a higher level, which means the loot will drop at that mission's level, so grinding is pointless there too. I am almost done with the game, and it has been an interesting experience for me.
Lessons in death not learnt
The more I play it, the more I question so many design decisions behind so many different things. The more I die from an enemy attacking without Ki, the more frustrating it gets to grasp just why the stamina mechanic is not polished to prevent this from happening. Let us not even mention the broken hit boxes where you would be out of an enemy's attack range, but they will still hit you.
All this was never an issue in Dark Souls, as when you died, you knew you messed up and had to learn from your mistakes. Nioh on the other hand, is very different. I know this all sounds like I am terrible gamer raging about a game that is too hard for me. But I have completed every Dark Souls game three times, and have played Bloodborne enough, to know what is fair and unfair. Nioh is a very good game, and I have to take my hat off to the magnificent design behind it all, but sometimes it has the wrong intentions.
Or is it exactly right?
Mr. Minnie has a different opinion on the matter, explaining that: “I didn't have the same experience than my colleague while I reviewed the game. Finding random players to test the co-op was very fast the four times I tried it. On the topic of playing the game solo for the first time, I do believe that is exactly how it should be.
As a self-proclaimed Souls veteran, I've always called co-op with a friend or summoning a random player before an area where you struggle 'casual Souls'. Although co-op from the start and without restrictions would have been nice and I do realize why some might find it appealing, I think the developer made the right decision with the restrictions. There is nothing worse than trying to beat a boss co-op with players who don't know a single thing about the game, which these restrictions remedy.”
Have you played Nioh? Do you agree with some of these points? Let me know in the comment section.
Below is a video of Mr. Minnie taking on the vamp boss like a baws.