Posted July 1, 2016 by Zachary Clarke in Feature

E3 2016: Nioh Preview

Nioh is a game that I have had my eye on from its re-unveiling at TGS last year. I mean, it’s hard not to be excited by the idea of playing as a badarse samurai taking down demons in feudal Japan. However, in true Team-Ninja fashion, it wasn’t long in to the demo that instead of feeling like a bad arse, I was having my arse handed to me.

The demo at E3 had three parts, a tutorial and two different levels to play through. Naturally, I started with the tutorial which took place in the back of a dojo before opening up to a serene Japanese garden. The tutorial did a fantastic job of running me through the games various combat mechanics. First off I was able to choose between quick and strong attacks, with the latter naturally taking longer to perform but dealing greater damage and vice versa for quick attacks. This is also where the games form of ‘stamina’ known as Ki is introduced, with heavy swings using more stamina than medium swings. This concept is taken a step further with the introduction of stances. The player can actively switch between three sword stances, the mid stance which is neutral stance, great for blocking and guarding, the second is high stance which is for slower but stronger hitting attacks and the last is low for faster weaker attacks as well as dodging.

The other key element of combat is Ki pulses. At the end of a combo, some small lights come out of your sword which represent an opportunity to engage a Ki pulse. By pressing R1/RB as these lights appear you will perform a Ki pulse which causes your Ki to replenish rapidly. Ki pulses also serve another important purpose as some enemies will be surrounded by “Yokai Realms”, a dark miasma which will cause your Ki to replenish at a slower rate, while your enemies Ki will replenish faster. A well timed Ki pulse will cause the Yokai Realm to dissipate adding on to the need for the player to master performing them. You also have access to a bow and arrow which functions exactly how you would expect it to. While it may sound complicated, it ends up being a fairly simple system to learn, but hard to master, which is why I felt so satisfied with it

Now, I wasn’t able to fully complete either of the two missions after completing the tutorial due to the time allocated for the demo. However, I did get to experience a decent number of key aspects of the game.


The first mission had me fighting a skeleton surrounded by a Yokai realm. My first few attempts of taking down the skeleton did not end well for me, which is to expected from a game inspired by the Souls series. This did give me an opportunity to see how the experience systems functions, which is very similar to the Souls series, with experience being left where you die for you to recollect and losing it forever if you die enroute. Eventually I got the hang of timing my Ki Pulse which allowed me to take on the skeleton with ease. However, after defeating my first foe two more skeletons appeared, with one being much larger than its predecessor. These guys proved too much of a challenge for me and highlighted how throwing in multiple enemies just adds another element of combat.

The second mission gave me a better picture of what I feel the full game will feel like. After entering some sort of castle or dungeon, I was confronted by a gate next to a small shrine. Shrines function much like bonfires in Souls games, acting as checkpoints, save points, replenishing your healing item (similar to an estus flask from Dark Souls) and the place where you can upgrade your character and learn new moves.


I then went down the only path open to me and came across two skeletons, one wielding two katanas and the other a bow. With a little bit of patience, the melee skeleton was not hard to deal with after my earlier battle. The archer, for some reason wouldn’t attack me until I was about one metre from it, allowing me to easily take it out from afar. This may have been a glitch or perhaps they were designed to lull me in to a false sense of security, as this was the last time I felt confident in this demo.

As I continued on I was confronted by a fork in the path. I decided to go straight and very soon learnt that I had make a mistake when I quickly triggered a trap that put a big dent in my health. This really didn’t help when I quickly came across a gremlin which made short work of me.

I decided to go left on my second run through, which proved to be a slightly better option. I avoided the trap, however I did encounter another demon and my lack of skill combined with limited time prevented me from progressing any further. Despite my struggles, it never felt unfair. I always lost because I didn’t keep an eye on my ki gauge, mistimed a dodge, or  just got impatient and tried to play overly aggressively.


Nioh is a very well crafted, polished and difficult game. It borrows elements from the Souls franchise, but it does it well and wraps it all up in this fantastic feudal japanede worlde. This is definitely a title you want to keep an eye on.

Zachary Clarke

Zach is a unabashed Nintendo fanatic, however that doesn't mean he doesn't partake in the forbidden fruits of Playstation & Xbox consoles... he even plays on PC from time to time. Zach has dabbled in the video game industry in a number of ways over the past few years, from writting content for Gonintendo & Another Castle, to running the Society for Electronic Entertainment at the University of Melbourne. There is nothing more he loves than getting together, either online or offline with a bunch of fellow gamers, to yell at each other until we just want to punch one another in the throat while discussing video games.


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