Review: Nioh: Defiant Honor 

Defiant Honor

Nioh: Defiant Honor (PS4)
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment (Worldwide) / Koei Tecmo (Japan)
Released: July 25, 2017
MSRP: $9.99 (DLC), $24.99 (Season Pass)

This time you’ll visit Osaka Castle, a neon showy temple and a mountain, among several other hard-hitting remastered challenges. Three maps (with the token variations and side jaunts) might not seem like a lot but given that they’re full sandboxes with secrets packed in, and the fact that Nioh begs to be replayed, it still works. I’m getting this close to having my Nioh fill barring some overhauling, but as long as Team Ninja is willing to put forth the amount of effort on continuing the fight as they have so far, the fundamentals will carry them. Nioh is still so damn satisfying to play.

The new enemies (dogs, abominations, many more unique humanoids like elemental mages and named ninja or samurai) mesh well, the bosses are still tough, and I appreciate that they’re still going for a semi-realistic history of Japan with loosely adapted events. Just…with demon dogs, and talking cats. It’s wonderfully camp and has a sly charm to it all that hasn’t overstayed its welcome (mostly because the short length of the DLC won’t allow it). I don’t feel like the story is bringing us anywhere in particular outside of its showcasing of various skirmishes, but I don’t need it to if we can keep getting more inventive ways to Ki Pulse and combo. I will say that Defiant Honor is a minor step up though if only for the playable “storming of the gates” opening that will no doubt stir up comparisons to Koei Tecmo’s own Dynasty Warriors series.

But enough about the aesthetics, as you’ll get a few new mechanical additions as well. The dual Tonfa (which is much flashier than the Odachi, with its own skill tree to boot), is the main event along with more junk to acquire (loot and Guardians). The Tonfa type focuses on medium-speed attacks that break your opponent’s guard, and for this reason alone they’ll be a nice specialty weapon to use on your second slot, both for PVP and for certain enemies that guard a little too often.

Defiant Honor

Each DLC has also ushered in a new insane difficulty setting (think NG++ and NG+++) — this time it’s Way of the Enlightenment. Needless to say it’s rough, and can’t even be accessed until you’ve bested Way of the Demon from the last round (something I’m still working on). It really tests your limits in terms of how many times you’re willing to beat the same campaign over and over, but years from now when the “Complete Edition” is already done and dusted, it’ll be a nice way to extend the life of the game. As is customary with my favorite action staples I am planning on replaying it all the way through one day.

It’s fascinating how Team Ninja is mostly catering to the hardcore crowd with this string of add-ons up through Nioh: Defiant Honor. You can’t really just jump into these levels without having mastered everything up through the campaign, and although that mentality might feel a little unwelcoming for some, I feel like Koei Tecmo gets it, and knows their audience.

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