The word “Remaster” tends to go hand in hand with a console generation change. Sony and Team Ninja have seen fit to take advantage of the grunt in the new PS5 and give us a spit ‘n’ polished Nioh 1 & 2 in “The Nioh Collection”.
Nioh 1 from 2017 and Nioh 2 from 2020 slot neatly into the “Soulslike” genre, all be it in a Samurai skin. Brutally hard, rewarding to those who have the patience and generally critically acclaimed. I for one don’t tend to find a lot of joy in the soulslike space, but the wider contribution these types of titles have made to video gaming cannot be ignored.
Some things change, some stay the same
The Nioh Collection does not change the two games at their core. So the original reviews on their gameplay, mechanics and systems are still 100% applicable. The new edition is purely a graphical and performance upgrade for the new consoles. The Nioh Collection carries a $130NZD price tag, which is for both games and their expansions. But considering the amount of games getting free graphical upgrades for the PS5, such as God of War, Ghost of Tsushima or even Destiny 2, the hefty price tag for a Nioh remastered gives me pause.
The actual upgrade gives both titles a sizable buff to performance, particularly the much touted 120fps mode. But compromises have been made to hit this blistering frame rate. The three modes available are – Quality Mode, 4K Mode and 120fps Mode. Quality and 4K Mode are both 60fps. Quality Mode is sub-4K, but with a rock solid 60fps and better draw distances and detail. The other huge improvement is the load times, which drop from almost half a minute on the old consoles to two or three seconds on PS5. Bless that Solid State Drive!
4K mode is as is says, a high resolution with some allowances around shadow detail and frame-rate stability. Then there’s the much promoted 120fps mode, which sounds amazing. But according to Digital Foundry (I don’t have a 120fps monitor to test on), the titles dip to 1080p to allow for the processing of the game at such a high frame-rate. Also, shadow detail takes a nosedive as well as some distant level geometry being removed.
Visuals vs Visceral Death
I found the most appealing mode to play both games was the Quality Mode. As it hit the best balance of graphical beauty and frame rate. That said, as my skill was found a wanting and my rage levels grew, death after death after death. The red mist descended upon me. I will admit, even if the games were in a beautiful 8K/240fps!….. I would still have turned it off in disgust and frustration. They are just not my cuppa tea.
Overall, for fans of ‘soulslike’ genre, this is a great package. However, if players have already owned the previous incarnations of Nioh 1 & 2 on PS4. The hefty price tag for a mere performance upgrade may be a bitter pill to swallow. As mentioned, there are countless great games getting free upgrades to higher resolutions and frame-rates. I think most would admit, that is the preferred trend for the re-masters coming to PS5.