The Nioh Collection

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
The Nioh Collection Game Poster Image
Wickedly tough, bloody series gets anthology treatment.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Strategic thinking and perseverance are encouraged, rewarded. Vaguely historical nature of the games could foster interest in old Japanese culture. But these games are designed to entertain primarily via depiction of spectacular and gruesome violence.

Positive Role Models

Protagonists of both games -- one based on an actual historical figure -- are meant to be seen as warrior heroes fighting for the greater good. But while they clearly possess honor and courage, they solve pretty much every problem by dealing out bloody death.  

Ease of Play

Both are extremely challenging games with potential to frustrate even veteran players. Controls are intuitive and responsive, and ample tutorials lead players through the basics of various strategies and fighting styles. But enemies are relentless, unforgiving, likely to cause plenty of deaths and checkpoint restarts.

Violence

Players use a variety of melee weapons -- swords, hammers, axes, etc. -- along with bows and arrows and ancient guns and cannons to slice, bludgeon, eviscerate, blow up, decapitate human and fantasy creatures in grisly third-person combat. Blood, gore, moans/screams accompany virtually every attack. Bodies, body parts, blood stains are found in most environments.

Sex

Some female characters are depicted nearly nude from the waist up.

Language
Consumerism

Collection of Nioh and Nioh 2 in a remastered package, with downloadable content (DLC) for both games included.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Nioh Collection is an action role-playing game for the PlayStation 5. The title anthologizes and remasters two PlayStation 4 games: Nioh and Nioh 2, including the downloadable content (DLC) previously released for both games. Both are action role-playing games set in ancient Japan with nearly constant third-person combat. Players wield period-appropriate melee and projectile weapons, fighting humans and monsters in blood-soaked battles filled with decapitations, eviscerations, and other types of gore. The protagonists are honorable and courageous characters fighting for the greater good, but their sole means of solving problems is by killing their enemies, and typically in wildly spectacular fashion. That said, the setting could encourage players to learn more about Japanese culture and history, and the games' relentless and extreme difficulty encourages players to be patient, practice, strategize, and persevere (assuming it doesn't turn them off from the experience).

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What's it about?

THE NIOH COLLECTION bundles together a pair of classic PlayStation 4 exclusives, both remastered to take advantage of PlayStation 5 hardware. Nioh, a brutally difficult action role-playing game (RPG) in the tradition of From Software's popular Dark Souls series, puts players in control of William Adams, an actual historical figure who arrived in Japan near the end of the feudal era. This fictional story sees him traveling to various discrete locations around the island nation, fighting a mix of soldiers and fantastical monsters using period-authentic melee and ranged weapons and various combat styles. Nioh 2 follows a similar formula, except that the protagonist of the sequel is fully customizable, allowing players to select gender, skin tone, and voice. Both games are extraordinarily difficult, forcing players to practice and experiment with the fighting system while simultaneously analyzing and learning to identify enemy patterns and techniques in order to find success. Death is a common occurrence -- and, for some players, frustration will be, too. Fortunately, you can call on help from fellow players online when the going gets really rough. In collecting these two RPGs (plus all of their downloadable content) in a single package, the developers opted not to alter the games themselves, save to provide support for displays with 4K resolution and 120-Hz frame refresh rate and take advantage of the lightning-quick load times offered by PlayStation 5 hardware.

Is it any good?

Getting the most out of these two games requires a willingness to weather a good deal of battering punishment along the way. The Nioh Collection doesn't alter the design or difficulty of either of its games, so if you tried and were turned off by the originals you'll likely feel the same about these two remasters. Button mashing is simply not effective. Not only must you master a variety of armaments and techniques, you must also know your enemies, their strengths and weaknesses, and how to anticipate their attacks and movements. Those who invest the required time and energy are likely to experience a growing sense of deep satisfaction as they defeat tougher enemies and bosses, while opening up new areas to explore. Then again, just as many players are, understandably, likely to give up out of aggravation before reaching this Zen gaming state.

What may help new players along, if only slightly, are some of the technical improvements (assuming you have a display that can take advantage of them). The quicker refresh rate means players have a slightly better real-time understanding of what's going on, so you can react a bit more quickly -- and these are games where every millisecond counts. Plus, the marginally lower latency of the PlayStation 5 wireless controller could occasionally mean the difference between life and death when it comes to reaction times. And when your hero eventually does die -- and this is unavoidable -- the PlayStation 5's speedier loading times mean you'll be back in the action quicker than ever before, giving you less time to dwell and fret about your previous deaths. The truth is, though, that these games are designed for a specific audience: players who relish a deep and hardy challenge. Getting both games -- plus all of their terrific world- and character-building DLC -- for the price of a single game is a great deal, providing well over 100 hours of entertainment for dedicated fans. If you haven't played them before and you're up for a serious test of your action gaming skills, The Nioh Collection is well worth a look.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in media. Is the impact of the violence in The Nioh Collection affected by the bloody and visceral combat? Would the impact of the violence be as strong if the violence was cartoonish? Why does violence continue to fascinate us, and what does that say about us as a society?

  • How does Japan's history compare to that of Western nations? What did you learn about Japanese culture that you didn't know before playing these games?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

Themes & Topics

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