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You're not exactly spoiled for choice if PC is your preferred gaming platform and you enjoy the Dark Souls style of action-RPGs. As such, the recent release of Ni-Oh: Complete Edition is quite welcome. So, what do the people who have already played through the game on PC think about it? From the looks of it, the prevalent sentiment seems to be that the PC port is quite sloppy but not necessarily unplayable, and if you get past the rigid controls and poor-ish optimization, the game itself is quite good. Have a look:
PC Gamer 78/100:
The good news is that even though Nioh forces you to cap your framerate at either 30 or 60 fps, I get a steady 59 on my mid-range system with all graphical options set highest. I only drop into the 40s during boss fights with particularly busy environment effects and during cut scenes which are rendered at 30 fps. It’s not of inspiring quality, but is serviceable enough given that Nioh’s face isn’t its main feature.
Nioh’s versatile and rhythmic action combat makes getting through each mission worthwhile. I haven’t taken full advantage of the possibilities offered by the various weapons and combos, but I know others will enjoy crafting and testing builds. And after finishing the main quest, Nioh offers twilight missions (harder versions of completed missions), clan battles, a Diablo 2-style loot grind, and a new game plus to tackle. It's massive, and most of it is worth seeing, some stinker levels aside.
The greatest disappointment is the sloppy job porting control inputs and relevant UI for the PC. Knowing how important customization is for keyboard players, I dread the task of convincing friends to play a game that otherwise would have needed no advocate.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun Recommended:
Unfortunately, also unlike Destiny, Nioh’s journey from console to PC has not been completely smooth. The game has no mouse and keyboard support to speak of, in menus or in game. You would likely be better off playing a game like this with a controller anyway, but it’s still an annoyance. Otherwise things are mostly fine: you have to change resolution in the launcher rather than via an in-game menu, but there’s support for 4K resolutions, it seems to run well enough on older PCs, and you can choose whether to cap it at 30 or 60 frames per second.
Nioh is like Dark Souls in so far as the halts to progress and forced repetition of fights function. You move forward, you fall, you learn, you try again. Experience works almost identically, tied to a form of currency that must be cashed in before death, adding a delicious risk/reward factor. The masses of loot initially seem like the biggest difference between this and a From Software game, and could kid you into thinking Nioh is a game about raising stats above all else, but it’s not. That’s a small part of it. Really, it’s a game about raising your own level and mastering one of the finest combat systems ever put on a screen. It might be standing on the shoulders of Souls, but it’s got its eyes on a very different destination.
Nioh is one of few RPGs with near-perfect combat mechanics. Its unique take on the Souls formula is exhilarating at first glance, and later reveals incredible depth by adding a combo system into the mix. The stance system is impeccable, and simply elevates the action to a level not seen in any other game of this type. I dare say these mechanics are more engaging than even Bloodborne’s, the Souls game whose combat it most closely resembles.
The PC platform is starved for this type of game. Sure, you have all three Dark Souls games, but other, equally essential entries like Bloodborne, and Demon’s Souls are missing. Even Team Ninja’s classic Ninja Gaiden is nowhere to be found on PC. For these reasons, it’s worth putting up with the port’s shortcomings.
Ultimately, the PC version of Nioh is the very definition of functional. It works well enough that you can enjoy your time with it, but it’s unremarkable everywhere that matters.
The PC version of Nioh is still perfectly playable, and with luck the problems will be patched out soon, but at the moment we can’t award this the same 9/10 score as we did the PlayStation 4 original. But Nioh is still a superb action adventure, and we won’t demean it by arguing whether it’s better or worse than the various entries in the SoulsBorne series.
Nioh also stands as further proof that games do not need to constantly nanny their players, worrying about whether they’re too difficult or complicated or obscure. If the experience is rewarding enough then anyone, from the most experienced to the least, can enjoy any game. And that is certainly the case with Nioh, even if you’d probably be better off with the console version.
Hardcore Gamer 4.5/5:
When it was released earlier this year, Nioh was far more than just a Dark Souls clone; it was an intense, action-packed and painfully-challenging action RPG that carved its own path. Mixing in historical figures with Japanese folklore brings out more of the dark and dreary world, even though the story itself doesn’t always pace itself properly. Its PC release maintains all of that and adds higher graphical options, ensuring there’s the capabilities to run it at 4K60. The only negative that can be said about the PC port is that a controller is essentially 100% required, with the lack of mouse support making the keyboard default controls frustratingly poor, especially for such a high skill level game such as this. Regardless, players with a half-decent computer and a controller will find themselves lost in a game that goes above and beyond what’s expected from the genre.
Nioh: Complete Edition is a worthy “Soulsbourne” game, and maybe one of the best. With the inclusion of all the DLC and the great performance of the port, Nioh should be a day 1 purchase for all fans of the genre. The combat system allows you to play fast and aggressive or slow and defensive, whichever suits your playstyle, and the inclusion of DLC weapons from the start means that you have an incredible amount of customization right off the bat to play through this deep, lengthy game.
To simply label Nioh as "Souls-like" would be to imply that it is in any way derivative of the Dark Souls formula. It shares its similarities, yes, but Team Ninja has crafted a different beast entirely. William's journey to recover Saoirse runs brilliantly parallel to Japan's journey to recover order. Combat is fluid and variable thanks to quick weapon switching and an emphasis on recovering stamina mid-action instead of simply exhausting it in bursts. The overall presentation and aesthetic of Japan is breath-taking and unforgettable. The enemy variety is lacking, but that's easily overlooked by just how engrossing each boss is. With all the DLC present, Nioh: Complete Edition is an excellent way of experiencing Team Ninja's masterpiece for the first time, or just revisiting William Adams for another trek through Japan.
Gaming Age B-:
Assigning a grade here is exceptionally difficult. I would like to judge the game based on its own merit, PC port notwithstanding, unfortunately, this is a review for the Complete Edition, which is the PC port. If you have ever praised the sun, or if you have any fear of the old blood, Nioh is an absolute must play. A fantastic and deep combat system, coupled with great boss design and a difficult yet fair effort/reward loop put Nioh right up there with its not so distant brothers in Dark Souls and Bloodborne. If I were to assign a score to the game, simply for its content it would absolutely be a solid “A”. Unfortunately, even though it is the Complete Edition, this is not necessarily the superior version of the game. If you only play games on PC, this game is still a no-brainer to pick up, but if you’re like me and have consoles as well as a computer, I think the PS4 may still be the place to play Nioh.