Review: Nioh Collection (PS5)

0

As much as I loved the original Nioh, one particular memory is always first to mind when I think back on it: the hours I spent frustratedly bashing my head against Hino-Enma, the third boss in the game. Learning her moveset and figuring out optimal ways of dealing with each attack didn’t take long, but actually doing that consistently and reliably enough to whittle away her health before one too many mistimed dodges left me dead on the floor was another story. A dwindling supply of antiparalytic needles meant room for error got smaller with each attempt, and a lengthy, monster-filled run from the last save point made retrying a slow, gruelling, tedious process. With that memory branded in my mind, it was with more than a little hesitation that I approached the same point in Nioh Remastered

This time, I killed Hino-Enma on my second attempt. I actually laughed at how easy she was, and that retrying after that one death was a short, uneventful trip from a nearby shrine that I hadn’t found last time. Did the remaster make things easier? Not at all—that shrine was there all along, and the Hino-Enma fight hasn’t changed at all. Did I just “git gud”? Maybe a little, but I don’t think that’s it either. No, I think it’s just that Nioh Collection is a perfect opportunity to revisit the original Nioh in the wake of Nioh 2, with the benefit of some nice welcome performance improvements, and that’s been enough to let me finally meet Nioh on its own level and truly appreciate its brilliance.

Nioh Collection brings together remasters of both Nioh and Nioh 2 for PlayStation 5, complete with graphical and performance improvements and all DLC included. While there’s little by way of any entirely new features, these are the best versions of two truly excellent games, making it a no-brainer for any newcomers to the world of Nioh and a good choice for anyone wanting to return to its clutches.

Nioh, as the older of the two games by a few years, is the most clear beneficiary of the remastering treatment. As great as it looked on PS4, it looks phenomenal on PS5—running at 4K resolution with the improved lighting effects adds a layer of clarity and atmosphere that the original just couldn’t achieve, despite its best efforts. Nioh 2 only just came out last year, right at the end of the PS4 life cycle and able to really push that console to its limits as a result. As such, the visual improvements are less immediately noticeable, but still there in the little details.



The much bigger gain is in performance. Nioh and Nioh 2 could suffer at times from frame rate issues and long load times, especially if you were playing on an original PS4 rather than PS4 Pro. That’s not an issue at all in Nioh Collection; both games can hold a steady 60fps even when there’s a lot going on, which is a godsend for the sort of precise timing that some of the games’ more technical aspects require. I don’t usually put a whole lot of stake in frame rate, but going back to the original Nioh—even running on PS5—after playing the remaster for a few dozen hours, it felt genuinely unplayable. Nioh Collection offers a 120fps mode, though without a 120fps-capable screen, it’s not something I could test.

Load times are practically instant now, which makes the frequent death and retrying that’s a staple of Nioh and Nioh 2 far more tolerable. Find yourself freed from this mortal coil in Nioh Collection, and you’re back on your feet within a couple of seconds, ready to fight again. Loading into a new level takes only slightly longer, and even jumping directly into a mission from the PS5 dashboard can get you from playing a whole different game to chopping up yokai in under a minute. 

Nioh Collection doesn’t make quite the same use of the PS5 features, unfortunately. Activity cards are handy for quick access to individual missions, but there’s a missed opportunity for the sort of progress tracking and in-game help videos we’ve seen for other games. DualSense feedback is rudimentary, limited to some minor trigger resistance when aiming bows and haptic feedback that doesn’t feel much more textured than a standard rumble. After seeing how much a game like Demon’s Souls was able to add to its atmosphere just through controller feedback, it’s hard to not be a little disappointed that Nioh Collection doesn’t benefit from the same.

Though it doesn’t have any entirely new additions, Nioh Collection includes all previously-released DLC for both games, with plenty of exciting things among them. The extra missions are the main appeal, with Nioh 2‘s DLC storyline being particularly outstanding: a time-travel setup lets you trade blows with Benkei and visit the early days of the Heian period. DLC weapons like the Odachi in Nioh and the Splitstaff in Nioh 2 are available right out the gate, which can be a lot of fun to experiment with, especially if you played the originals without them.

Even if it’s not loaded with extra stuff, Nioh Collection still has what’s important: the best versions of two of the best games of recent years, with the improved performance and extra graphical polish to really let Nioh and Nioh 2 shine their brightest. The obvious appeal here is for people who haven’t played a Nioh game before, but even if you have, Nioh Collection‘s improvements make it a great way to revisit them. And maybe, if you’re anything like me, it might even just let you find some new appreciation for what makes Nioh brilliant.

Score: 5 stars

Nioh Collection is developed by Team Ninja and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. It’s available now for PlayStation 5 (reviewed).

A review copy was provided to Shindig by the publisher.

Share.

About Author

Matthew is a writer based in Wellington. He loves all things pop culture, and is fascinated by its place in history and the wider social context.