Nioh has been repeatedly compared to both Dark Souls and Bloodborne so many times that it’s probably starting to get tiresome for some people. But people, people! There are plenty of differences between these games.
Like its godparents of Dark Souls III and Bloodborne, Nioh is brutally hard. It figuratively sodomises the player mercilessly, never apologises for such atrocity, and yet players have become willing masochists when playing games like these. Pray that Wreck-It Ralph is not based on a true story, because if it were, then bless William – the hunk of a protagonist in Nioh – for having died countless times.
Anyway, let’s get down to the meat of this! Below is a competition of sorts between the three games, with each section being different aspects of the game.
Despite having similar combat elements as Dark Souls and Bloodborne, the only combat distinguishing combat element is also its advantage: the “stance” mechanic. Unlike the other two where there’s basically standard hack and slash with light/heavy attacks, Nioh’s “stance” system introduces more ways to strike down your enemies by approximately threefold.
There are three stances in the “stance” system: the swift ‘low’ stance for dodging, the well-balanced ‘mid’ stance for blocking, and the powerful but daunting ‘high’ stance for slow, brutal attacks. Players can quickly switch between each stance and deliver combos of many varieties. Furthermore, this encourages players another strategy element to consider, as the effectiveness of each weapon differs from each other based on the stance used, depending on your playstyle.
But that’s not it. It also employs the same stamina mechanic as Souls and Bloodborne – known as Ki in Nioh, but with a slight twist: the inclusion of Ki Pulse. By pressing the R1 at the right time after attacking, players can recover their Ki quickly to continue their rampage of hacking their enemies, which is an interesting modification to the old-school stamina mechanic. There are even small smoky areas employed by enemies within levels that will severely deteriorate the recovery speed of Ki – called Yokai Realms, which will make Ki Pulse even more vital to one’s survival.
Nioh wins this round for having a more complex combat system than Dark Souls and Bloodborne. Players will be forced to strategise even further by considering which stance to use, and to keep an eye on their Ki to successfully perform Ki Pulses.
Some players just prefer to play fire with fire in their games quite literally, by opting for classes that specialize in magic spells. So it’s natural for Nioh to implement a magic system, in spirit of its older sibling of Dark Souls.
However, the presence of magic isn’t strongly felt in Nioh. The Team Ninja game has only one type of magic in its gameplay: Onmyo magic, seeing that Ninjitsu doesn’t exactly quality as “magic”. Even with Onmyo, it’s basically a more passive spell as opposed to active spells. This is because it only boosts the player’s stats temporarily, which includes imbuing elemental damage to their weapons or improved elemental resistance.
On the better hand, Dark Souls III has three magic types: pyromancy (fire magic), miracles (defensive magic) and sorcery (offensive magic). There are more choices in terms of how the player wants to defeat their enemies in-game in this regard, by choosing either class and specialising in specific magic types that aid them in battle. Moreover, players will be able to adopt a magic-centric class, such as sorcerer, pyromancer and cleric, whereas Nioh doesn’t have such option. And since Bloodborne doesn’t really have any magic per se, it’s a knock out for it right from the start.
Winner: Dark Souls III
Dark Souls III takes one brownie point for having a more engaging and interesting magic system in its game. Players who prefer dashing out spells as mighty spell casters would prefer Dark Souls III for this aspect.
Aside transforming from the noob getup you had when you first delved into the game and into a more bad-ass character with cool fashion sense, weapon and armours are vital to one’s survival and victory with its supportive stats. And what’s an action RPG without these?
While all games have such items, the collection and varieties between the three are different. Dark Souls has a wider range of weapon and armour variety, whereas Nioh only has a couple of weapon types. Although there are different weapons under each type in Nioh, they work more or less in similar manners. Even Bloodborne’s choice of weapons and armours are reminiscent to Nioh so nothing to shout for there either.
Winner: Dark Souls III
With an extensive line of sturdy armours and awesome weapons, Dark Souls III wins again! Although it’s not always the most important aspect of a game, the broader option of such items would allow players more freedom to have a build that’s tailored specifically just for them.
If there were no efforts made in creating a beautiful devastating world in a game, there’s just not much reason to appreciate it. Thankfully, these three games have excelled in this area, despite its grim settings.
The world of Dark Souls is one of medieval fantasy, where everything is withered and ashen, but not without showcasing one of the most glorious manmade structures in the game. As for Bloodborne, it is a love letter to the H.P. Lovecraft, with its Gothic city atmosphere in the Victorian era, and everything is so British.
And Nioh? Well, its brighter, all right, and definitely not another dying world. But it’s nothing to shout about.
Winner: Dark Souls and Bloodborne
Both Dark Souls and Bloodborne may have simpler combat mechanics than Nioh, but it is undeniable that the sights and scenery, tone and environment of both games that stay in the minds of players for being so darn memorable and haunting. From Software really aced in this aspect!
These games - albeit their similarities are striking - are different from each other in multiple aspects, and sometimes they best each other in certain aspects. Regardless of that, all games have its own perks and enjoyment. One cannot deny that these three are jewels in the video gaming world, due to its critical acclaim from both professional critics and regular players like you and I.