Ni-Oh is a Dark Souls Imitator With Soul

Eurogamer published a new preview for Ni-Oh, Tecmo Koei's action-RPG that is currently available in beta on the PlayStation Store (US link and EU link), based on their hands-on experiences with the title's publicly available build. While the Dark Souls comparisons occasionally overshadow the title's own qualities in the write-up, they still manage to do a good job at highlighting its personality:

Nioh protagonist William is fast. He dodges, sprints and strikes with the best of them. But he also runs out of breath very easily. More easily than even the lowest level Souls hero. And the punishment for running out of juice (called "ki" in Nioh parlance) is very grim indeed as it locks the poor fool in place for a couple of seconds while he helplessly pants. William goes from brutish super soldier one moment to an out of breath middle-aged jogger the next. This not only provides an extra layer of consequence to the already punishing combat system, it humanises our hero. It would be comical if it wasn't so tense.

There's a staggering amount of depth to Nioh's fisticuffs. While William's weapons don't have the slick transitions of Bloodborne, each one can be held in three stances: high, medium and low. The higher you hold a weapon, the more powerful it hits at the expense of speed. A weapon held lower to the ground strikes swift, but soft. There's also light and heavy attacks attributed to each stance. Dole out a heavy attack while brandishing a hefty hammer in high stance and it will bring a staggering amount of pain as your armament comes crashing down, but it's slow and will drain almost your entire ki meter to pull off. The result is devastating; whether the fallout is at your expense or in your favour depends purely on your skill at timing, positioning, and pattern recognition.

There's a few neat tricks Nioh employs that are arguably an improvement on what we've seen in the Souls series. My favourite addition is the Revenant system, which allows players to summon hostile NPCs called Revenants that function as ghosts based on other fallen players. Before you summon each one there's a description of their level, giving a vague idea at what sort of challenge you're taking on. I generally left these alone - the game is plenty challenging enough without summoning extra enemies - but they provide a great pseudo PvP mode and the levels are so liberally littered with potential sparring partners that you can always mix up the monotony of grinding against the same preset foes.