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Video Game / Nioh

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Death is an entry to life.
You will be reborn.
In tears, in water.
Life and death form a circle.
You can die and be reborn as long as I exist.
You are free from death.
— Excerpt from E3 2016 trailer

Nioh (from 仁王 - "two Deva kings", a pair of divine protectors of Buddhist temples), formerly known as Ni-Oh, is a 2017 Hack and Slash Action RPG for the Sony PlayStation 4 and PC developed by Team Ninja (makers of Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden) and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment worldwide for the PlayStation 4 and Koei Tecmo in Japan for the PS4 and worldwide on PC. Loosely based on an unfinished Akira Kurosawa screenplay and set in the Sengoku period of 16th century Japan, players take on the role of an Irish-born English samurai named William Adams as he combats against human and supernatural foes from Japanese folklore, such as Oni.

Gameplay is inspired by Dark Souls, wherein an average Mook can kill a gear-appropriate player in less than four hits, players must learn to spot enemy tells and draw out opponents one at a time, else risk a swift defeat from numerous foes, while stronger ones like oni and bosses can easily One-Hit Kill players. Unlike Dark Souls, Nioh has several things that set it apart. For starters, it features a set protagonist in William Adams (the Real Life "First English Samurai"), thus limiting Character Customization to accessories, armor and weapons like traditional Eastern RPGs. Speaking of, Nioh places heavy emphasis on gear, as the game uses a loot-based equipment system to bestow the player with improved stats and abilities. While the combat system is similar to its inspirations on a surface level, Nioh features numerous quirks that make it unique, such as Ki Pulsing, Living Weapons, Ninjutsu, Onmyo Magic, five weapon types (with two more added in the DLC) that have their own movelists a la a Hack and Slash game, and a Stance System. With a pace as fast as Bloodborne, the game is similarly completely merciless to the unprepared.

Notably, Nioh has an unquestionably long development cycle, having been announced since 2004, making this one of the longest Japanese-developed games.note  Nioh was released worldwide on Feburary 7, 2017 for the PlayStation 4. A PC version was later announced in October of that same year for release on November 7.

At E3 2018, a new game entitled Nioh 2 was announced. New gameplay trailers were released in May 2019 ahead of a closed alpha test. The TGS 2019 trailer also revealed that the game is a Prequel, featuring Toyotomi Hideyoshi in his youth (including his time when he was known as Kinoshita Tokichiro) during his service under the younger Oda Nobunaga. It was released world wide on March 13th, 2020. A Playstation 5 version, as part of a collection with Nioh 2, was released on February 5th, 2021, with 120 FPS support. Received a Spiritual Successor in 2023 called Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty.

Nioh provides the following tropes:

  • Actor Allusion:
  • Almost Kiss: When William rescues Okatsu, they get close, but she pushes him away because he smells horrible after being forced to walk around in feces earlier in the stage.
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: Gold and other useful items (or Kodama) might randomly be hidden by breakable crates and the environment. Breakable objects also respawn when going back to a shrine.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Twice. The first is when Adams departs Japan to hunt John Dee before the credits, and afterward, when he decides to return to Japan after having a vision of an attack on Osaka.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Whenever the player finishes a mission objective, the game automatically deactivates all stage hazards, from remaining enemies to pitfalls (by simply preventing any drops from ledges whatsoever), making it virtually impossible to die.
    • In the Iga House, if you spend too long without finding the first hidden door, Hanzo appears in the room the door is in and tells you to search it carefully.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: All the supernatural phenomena in the world of Nioh can be summed up in one word: Amrita. This golden crystal is formed from the life force of all physical entities, and powers spiritual guardians who can then perform high-quality magics for their hosts. Humans who consume this energy can gain stat points or gain temporary invincibility, but dying with an uncontrolled excess of Amrita (unless you have the right guardian spirit) or intentionally invoking a spirit beast causes their corpses to mutate into the demons that haunt Japan and beyond. The whole reason why Kelley came to Japan was to harvest enough Amrita to level up an army and take over the world, and the reason why William followed him was because Kelley stole his guardian spirit to track down Amrita.
  • Armor of Invincibility: the Tatenashi Set (which bears a passing resemblance to the Ogre Armor from Genma Onimusha).
  • Ass Shove: True to the folklore surrounding them, Kappa will ram their hands up William's backside if given the opportunity. To elaborate, it was believed back in the day that the souls of mankind were housed in a "shirikodama"note  and when kappa would drag their victims and pull them underwater, they would either reach into their butt to try to grab it, or suck it out. Thankfully this is not an instant killit saps all your stamina instead.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Jusified given the era and location but every general or high ranking soldier becomes a boss with special moves.
  • Autosave: Nioh constantly triggers this.
  • Bakeneko and Nekomata: Nekomata is Hanzo's Guardian Spirit, appearing as a white cat with an eyepatch and wearing weapons, and is one of the few who regularly talk to William and bears the element of Thunder.
  • Beef Gate: Of a sort. Scattered along the path in most levels are 'fog gates' that summon a big, nasty Yokai when approached to bar your way. Once killed, they stay dead even if you die or use a shrine. These serve to prevent players from simply barging past every enemy in the level and going straight for the boss, and to inspire exploration to find ways around them.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Not all of Saoirse's Irish dialogue is subtitled. In particular, when the player gets killed with Saoirse equipped as their guardian spirit, she can be heard saying "Tagann an bás arís", which means "Death comes again".
  • Boom, Headshot!: Zigzagged - a perfectly-aimed arrow or firearm shot to a human foe's head might be a guaranteed One-Hit Kill, even taking off their head. However, if the enemy is wearing a helmet, the arrow takes off the helmet instead, rendering no damage taken. Alternately, a bullet will go through a helmet, but unlike an arrow, the loud sound of the gunshot can draw the attention of nearby enemies.
  • Boring, but Practical: The spear in mid-stance isn't very flashy, but it's easy to use and very effective against most everything you encounter. The quick attacks have decent sweeps, which make them good against groups of enemies, and the strong attacks are thrusts that do solid damage to both health and ki from a safe distance. Thrusting is effective at keeping human enemies from even getting within striking range, provided they're not wielding a spear either, and a few strategic pokes are enough to drain the ki of yokai enemies and bosses, leaving them vulnerable to even more devastating combos.
  • Boss Bonanza: The Demon King Revealed in a nutshell. After fighting your way through a legion of Oni, you refight the first four bosses, shortly followed by Demon King Nobunaga, then Kelly, then finally the mythical Orochi
  • Breakable Weapons: Played straight in the demo, then averted in the main game - armor and weapons were subjected to a durability value; to restore them, players must use a "Nikawa Glue" and "whetstone", respectively. However, beginning with the August 2016 beta demo after player complaints regarding this mechanic, it was done away with entirelynote . Weapons in the final release have the exact opposite: instead of getting duller and more damaged with use, the familiarity gauge makes them stronger!
  • Caltrops: Ninja weapons include makibishi (the Japanese name for the trope) that can be thrown to slow down enemies and decrease their stamina.
  • The Cameo: During the Sequel Hook, images of who would be Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura appear, foreshadowing that the next setting would be the Siege of Osaka.
  • Cat Ninja: The Guardian Spirit Nekomata is depicted as this.
  • Character Customization: Alongside armor and clothing, you can unlock a barber option at the blacksmith shop.
  • Color-Coded Item Tiers: Accessories, armor and weapons are tiered using a color format; from common to rare - white, yellow, blue and purple. Green is the divine tier that opens up in the game's version of New Game Plus, Way Of The Strong onwards. Then, orange is the ethereal tier that opens up in Way Of The Wise.
  • Continuing is Painful: In true Soulsborne fashion: upon death, players are returned to the last shrine they activated, and all non-boss enemies respawn in their locations (this mercifully excludes the fog-gate enemies: once you kill them, they're gone for the remainder of the level). Furthermore, accumulated Amrita and the current Guardian Spirit are dropped at the place of death; dying a second time without reacquiring them and all Amrita is lost, but the Spirit returns to players automatically post-death. Additionally, players can also give up the Amrita from their place of death to retrieve the Guardian Spirit at any shrine without going back to the place where the death occurred.
  • Corridor Cubbyhole Run: The seige of Osaka Winter features a constant barrage of arrow (and later cannon) fire throughout the start of the level signified by a gong. This requires the player to quickly hop between cover to complete the level, although the observant can get items to nullify this mechanic.
  • The Corruption: Amrita has this effect on those lacking a Guardian Spirit, twisting them into the Youkai haunting the lands.
  • Cyclops: The One-Eyed Oni definitely looks like it was inspired by the eponymous creature of Greek mythology.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Nioh is superficially similar enough to Dark Souls that habits formed in that series (like not blocking or the "poke-and-retreat" tactic) tend to crop up unbidden. Nioh is mechanically dissimilar enough that these range from "merely inefficient" to "catastophic error."
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Yasuke's backstory is intrinsically tied to the African slave trade as he was brought to Japan in bondage only to be freed by Oda Nobunaga once he set on foot in the country amidst the chaos caused by the constant warfare between the clans.
  • Dem Bones: Skeleton Warriors are common enemies, but the award has to go to The Gashadokuro, a colossal six-armed skeleton with a giant skeletal tail, a secondary skull growing out the side of its head, and crystals growing inside the main skull.
  • Demon King Nobunaga: Nobunaga is hyped up in story for his brutality (Kelley outright calls him the most brutal warlord ever). Actually averted. He not only gives an F-you to Kelley after being revived, but he's shown to much more philosophical and sympathetic then most other portrayals of him, which makes sense, as just about all the Historical Domain Character's in the game were made to be more accurate to their real life selves then other games that portray them.
  • Developer's Foresight
    • There are a number of people who like games of this genre, but don't appreciate how most console-based video games are locked/run at 30 frames-per-second. Nioh offers an option to trade-in visual quality for 60 frames-per-second in the settings menu.
    • Some of the skill descriptions come with handy pronunciation guides, like saying that Iai is pronounced "ee-eye."
      • This extends to pretty much all aspects of the game. Spirits, Youkai, certain characters names. Even William's original Gaelic spirit Saoirse (SEER-shuh).
    • In the 4th level, near the end you meet the wife of the man you are looking for and she accompanies you for the rest of the level. However, if you turn back and go to the hotsprings earlier in the level, she will berate you if you use it, asking if its common etiquette where you are from to disrobe in front of a lady.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Kelley's ultimate plan is to resurrect Oda Nobunaga, the most brutal warlord of them all, with the intended effect of fanning the flames of conflict to harvest more Amrita. Except he has no way to actually MAKE Nobunaga do his bidding; and indeed, after a bit of fun and games, Nobunaga is all-too-happy to tell Kelley to piss off, before going peacefully back to the afterlife without a fight. Kelley's rage is palpable, but he really only has himself to blame for the complete disintegration of his plan.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • One of this game's mechanical differences from Dark Souls is the Ki Pulse, a sort of "Active Reload-esque" mechanic when it comes to stamina management. Namely, proper use of the R1 button when recovering stamina speeds up the process. It takes a bit of getting used to, especially when it comes to doing so mid-combat, but it speeds up stamina regeneration in a game where players need stamina to even attack (and when players are stunned temporarily upon running out of stamina), and a way to get rid of the Yokai Realms.
    • The Kusarigama has a high difficulty curve to master due to its high ki use. However once mastered a player can easily control the flow of battle, being able to attack enemies both up close and distances away.
    • The Odachi weapon class are like the Ultra Greatswords from Dark Souls, but also have a Stance Dance mechanic that involves comboing into other stances with combo-enders, as well as a variant of the Ki Pulse that's done when switching. That said, along with the power inherent with wielding a BFS, you can switch stances more safely, and that stance switch Ki Pulse recovers more Ki than a regular pulse.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: Only William can move and aim at the same time with bow and Rifles. Allowing the player to slowly walk around to get easy shots off before enemies can take aim themselves.
  • Double-Meaning Title: In a play on words, the Nio, or Konogrikishi as they're sometimes called, are a pair of huge, muscle-bound guardian statues that are seen flanking the Buddha in Japan.
  • Earn Your Fun: The main game is still not ball breaking hard for you? Check up on the Twilight Missions, auto-spawning Revenants at every step and a collection of Onis at every corner, and the icing on the cake is the absence of blessings; it’s a high risk, high reward type of deal, those missions offer equipment of greater quality than those found in most normal missions.
  • Emote Animation: There are a few gestures players can use to communicate with friendly players when performing Co-Op Multiplayer. There are also points in the game where making emotes to characters in-game will reap rewards.
  • Empathic Weapon:
    • The Familiarity stat indicates how close a bond William has with his weapons. The higher it is, the more damage they'll do but the more Amrita he'll obtain from sacrificing them. Maxing familiarity also gives a better chance of gaining the forge amrita for that weapon if you disassemble it, allowing the blacksmith to make new, higher level copies of that weapon.
    • There is a small explanation of the Shinto belief that all things in the world, living and non, possess their own spirits. It is implied in this explanation that the familiarity gauge is not a measure of William becoming more used to that weapon, but of the weapon's spirit becoming more fond of William and sharing its power with him.
  • Experience Booster: Certain attributes from armor and weapons will allow more Amrita to be acquired from defeating enemies, while one shrine offering also grants this provided players have found the correct kodama.
  • Experience Points: Called "Amrita", these are primarily acquired from enemies, but also from certain consumable items, which can be spent to level up stats. Like the game's inspiration, dying at any point will also cause you to drop all unspent Amrita, with the loss being permanent if you die a second time before making it back.
  • Faking the Dead: Ieyasu's plan to cover up the existence of Amrita unfortunately required William's death, and Hanzo was secretly under orders the whole game to end William's life the moment the threat was resolved. Fortunately, Hanzo ultimately refused to go through with it and lied to Ieyasu, saying that William was dead. Ieyasu didn't buy it, but also didn't mind.
  • Falling Damage: Based on the height from where players fall. While it can be mitigated slightly, there are certain distances that will always be fatal, no questions asked.
  • Fanservice: While nowhere near the levels found in other Team Ninja developed games, their signature fanservice touch can still be found here, some women and female demons wear some exotic spins of clothing found in the Sengoku period, showing more skin than any women from those times would be allowed to flaunt. Being mutated hellspawn and all, the overall degree of Fanservice regarding them tends to be at the low end of the scale.
  • Field Power Effect: Certain Youkai and bosses can trigger a "Youkai Realm", a circular black-and-white zone that decreases or negate William's Ki recovery in its area. Youkai Realm also restores lost Ki for Youkai and is the only way they can do so. Late in the game, "reversed" Youkai realm can start showing up, which cripple Youkai while rapidly restoring the player's Ki instead.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The three initial Guardian Spirits.
    • Kato is the Fighter, giving a straight buff to strength and higher damage output.
    • Isonade is the Mage, giving you the ability to see enemies on the radar and jumpstarts you on bringing out the potential of Spirits in general (including his potent healing abilities).
    • Daiba-Washi is the Thief, making it cost less Ki to evade and to use special weapon techniques.
    • William can use three different sets of skills from three locks that are this. Samurai is the Fighter, Ninja is the Thief, and Onmyo is the Mage.
  • Finishing Move: If an enemy in on low health and its Ki is depleted and they're on low health you normally have the option to preform one of these; it varies on the weapon you have equiped.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Early on in the game, Edward Kelley is talking to Sir John Dee about his plan to plunder Japan's Amrita. John Dee is the game's True Final Boss.
    • There's also a few hints here and there that Oda Nobunaga is not the completely evil warlord Kelley thought he was. His wife, Nohime, is truly devoted to Nobunaga and not portrayed as the Femme Fatale that a lot of other depictions of her tend to be, and unlike any other game adaptation, Nioh acknowledges that Nobunaga saved a black man from Madagascar from slavery under a Christian missionary who would go on to be known as Yasuke and made him the first true foreign samurai, before William himself, even, and treated him like family.
  • Grimy Water: One level starts in the sewers below a castle which the player must pass through. The water doesn't damage the player but adds an unusual debuff that makes the player retch (and also open to attack) whenever he eats a healing item.
  • Harder Than Hard: Way of the Nioh, the final difficulty you unlock, is magnitudes harder then anything that came before it. Not only are the missions insanely high level, but some enemies have new moves and powered up enemies show up much more often. Only the best builds and best players really have a hope of beating it.
  • Hammerspace: Zig-zagged; William can only wield two melee and two ranged weapons at a time, and will be seen carrying with him if equipped. On the other hand, his inventory makes him a regular Musashibo Benkei: he can carry tons of heavy weapons and items around with him at once.
  • The Heartless: Some of the monsters are corrupted humans. Others are far stranger: the Onryoki for instance was born of a bunch of humans tortured to death, as their anguished spirits came together to form a hulking, snarling mass of pure, concentrated hate that happens to be shaped like an oni.
  • He Knows Too Much: In an effort to cover up the westerner's activities and hide the existence of Amrita from the public, Ieyasu ordered Hanzo to kill William the moment William's quest was over. Luckily, Hanzo couldn't go through with it, and Ieyasu didn't seem to care when he found out.
  • Historical Beauty Update: All the historical characters are upgraded to look very attractive. Notably, Oba Nobunaga looks nothing like any contemporary depictions of him.
  • Historical Domain Character: Almost all of the cast are actual historical figures.
    • To clarify that we really mean almost everyone, remember the first boss? That executioner with no lines who just exists to show a method of how Oni are created? He was a real historical person who created a method for lifting that was named after him and used to this day called a derrick. He presumably was not turned into a demon in real life however.
  • Historical Fantasy: The game follows William Adams, an English sailor who arrives in Japan which is in the midst of an eventual reunification by Tokugawa Ieyasu, interwoven with creatures and figures from Japanese Mythology.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: The real William Adams was a navigator for the Dutch East India Company, who was shipwrecked in Japan and later became an advisor to Tokugawa Ieyasu. He wasn't locked up in the Tower of London, and certainly didn't fight Oni during his time in Japan.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • While the real Edward Kelley was an alchemist, in Nioh he's portrayed as being an Evil Sorcerer. Same goes for his boss, John Dee. Some sources say that the real-life Kelley was a practitioner of the dark arts, but whether or not that's true is up in the air.
    • The real-life William Adams was a regular sailor in the Royal Navy, not a pirate; though granted, he served chiefly under Sir Francis Drake which might make it Distinction Without a Difference.
  • Humanoid Abomination: A few of the female Youkai are humanoid women. Yuki-Onna is almost indistinguishable from a normal human being barring her Undeathly Pallor. On the other hand, we have Hino-Enma; everything about her practically screams 'wrongness'.
  • Harakiri: The Harakiri sword allows the player to commit Harakiri which returns them to the nearest shrine at the cost of losing all their Amrita.
  • Healing Potion: Elixirs, which can be restored to a baseline at shrines, or dropped by certain enemies. There's also the much rarer Shingiku Medicine which fully heals, and the starter potion, simply called "Medicine", that shows up in the prologue and the true final level.
  • Healing Spring: Bathing in hot springs restores your health and gives you a temporary healing buff.
  • Health/Damage Asymmetry: Averted with human enemies; players and human enemies can be killed in just a few hits. Yokai are notably more hardy.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: William's inventory can hold a massive array of weapons, multiple full suits of armor, and a supermarket's worth of items, though he can only equip two melee and two ranged weapons at a time.
  • Iaijutsu Practitioner: William can become one by learning and equipping the Iai Quickdraw skill. Duel Boss Tachibana Muneshige has a highly-advanced form known as the Tiger Sprint, which the player can learn much later in the game. In New Game Plus and beyond, normal enemies will start using it, too.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: You can have the Ultimate Blacksmith craft you these if you have enough gold & raw materials. Just make sure they have the ff stats:
    • Close Combat Damage 15% (20 @ max fam)
    • Familiarity Damage Bonus A
    • Change to Attack (stat) A for highest stat
    • Star Skill for a Skill Attack
    • Weaken Armor (Torso)
    • Set/Grace
  • Ink-Suit Actor: A first in Team Ninja’s resume, some of the Japanese historical figures and popular folklore characters are modeled and voiced after real actors, they are experienced actors and actresses who take part in Stage Plays where they impersonate the same historical figures seen in the game.
  • Invisible to Normals: The Guardian Spirits and Yokai. Being able to see them is something that instantly marks William as exceptional to many of the people he meets.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: If your opponent is knocked flat on their face, you can hit them with a damaging execution blow that deals bonus damage. With the right equipment, finishing blows can grow stronger or siphon health.
    • You can also grapple an opponent while they're exhausted from losing their remaining Ki due to damage, which deals even more damage but allows them to get right back into the fight. The Axe Grapple in particular pulls an opponent by the neck to the ground and then lumber chops their head clean off (or deals massive damage to the chest).
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The Onryoki was formed of the pain and hatred of the slaves on the ship where William encounters it: it's heavily implied that the slavers met their end at the hands of this Yokai.
  • Lighter and Softer: In a meta-sense, while the game is just as brutal and difficult, and is still pretty damn dark, it is nowhere near as grim and eldritch as Dark Souls and Bloodborne.
  • Like Reality, Unless Noted: Other than the presence of the Oni, Nioh is more or less set in the real world.
  • Limit Break: Collect enough Amrita, in other words defeat enemies, and you'll have the ability to activate "Living Weapon" that'll increase damage output and decrease damage taken.
  • Magic Knight: William can acquire a suit of full plate armor at the Tower of London, making him into a knight that uses Ki and can channel spirits into his sword. Played literally with anyone who pursues Onmyou Magic, as they will inevitably be complimenting their use of magic talismans with traditional swordplay or other weapons.
  • Magikarp Power: Becoming Immune to Bullets involves a lot of work & the blessing of the Random Number God but the result leaves you vulnerable only to the following ranged attacks (that's right, it's actually easier to list the projectile attacks that CAN hurt you):
    • Kelley's Oroboros attacks
    • The surrounding energy when characters like Date Masamune and Sanada activate Living Weapon
    • Laser attacks, like the big one from Umi-bozu and the smaller ones from White tiger/Hundred eyes
    • Breath attacks like Yuki-onna's ice breath, Nue's lightning breath, or the fire/poison breath from Rokurokubi. Oddly enough, Orochi's breath attacks do count as firearms, and so I took no damage from them
    • Lasers from White Tiger and Hundred Eyes.
    • The requirements, however, are steep. You will need to stack Received Firearm damage to reach 100%:
      • Tatenashi 2pc set bonus gives 25% (see Armor of Invincibility above).
      • 10.x% (13.x% at max familiarity) rolled on armor pieces (5 armor pieces total). Roughly 65%.
      • 1 accessory with 9.x% (preferably on a Yasakani Magatama)
  • The Masquerade: Tokugawa Ieyasu has one instituted after the Battle of Sekigahara, with the explicit goal of covering up the activities of Kelley and William in Japan, as well as hiding the existence of Amrita and Yokai from the general population. This is made easier because not only can most people not even see Yokai, but also because nearly everyone who knew about what happened is either in on it and sworn to secrecy, or dead.
  • Medium Blending: During key events where Guardian Spirits and their partners are the focus of the scene, the presentation is done in an original mixture of ink wash painting.
  • Mighty Whitey: Averted, despite appearances. Although Nioh strongly implies that the conspirators and the Yokai were a big part of the Sengoku Jidai, William killing them just keeps the situation from getting worse than it already is. It does nothing to actually STOP the war, and the bloodshed that happened historically happens just the same.
  • Money Multiplier: Multiple accessories, Spirit Guardians, Weapons and "Titles" will boost the amount of money and Amrita you gain for defeating enemies. Some will even provide you on them on each hit of a certain stance or by preforming special actions like hitting an enemies in the head with a bow.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules:
    • Zig-zagged with "Ki", the equivalent of stamina; all enemies have a Ki gauge that can be depleted just like the player's, rendering them into a staggered state or knocked down to their knees. The gauge itself operates differently depending on what kind of enemy you're facing, however: humans work exactly as the player's does, being used up for dodging and attacking and regenerating on its own. Yokai Ki acts more like Super Armor: their attacks and dodges don't use up Ki, and so long as they have it they don't flinch like humans do, but in exchange they don't regain it on their own, needing to conjure miasma and stand in the middle of it to do so.
    • Largely averted as well with enemy humanoids and their movesets. Most enemies use the same attacks as William can, though without special skills. The main exceptions are bosses, who might have a unique attack or two that only they can use, and low level soldiers. The "unique attacks" in their case involve pathetic stabs and swings with their weapon that tend to leave them off balance (since they're mostly farmers or fishermen who turned outlaw), so there's a perfectly good reason for William to not borrow their "techniques."
  • New Game Plus: You can complete the game multiple times on the same same save file which unlocks harder and harder difficulties; tougher-harder hitting enemies, more enemy spawn locations and in some cases brand new moves. However they'll have higher tier loot drops allowing the player to scale their damage with the enemies. They're creatively titled; Way of the Strong, Way of the Demon, Way of The Wise and Way of the Nioh.
  • Ninja Run: Ninjas, naturally, will run like this. The player will also run like this if using a single sword as his weapon.
  • Nintendo Hard: With the alpha demo being released to the public, Nioh has become infamous for this and is just as hard, if not, harder than Dark Souls, Bloodborne or Ninja Gaiden.
  • Notice This: Loot dropped from enemies or items found from corpses will have a glowing colored aura; the rarer the item, the brighter and more vibrant the glow.
  • Nurikabe: Nurikabe are minibosses who pretend to be part of the scenery until you approach enough, causing them to open up an eye: they count as Skippable Boss since you can either provoke it into a fight (which reveals its massive arms and ability to throw stones) or tame them with the correct gesture, which causes them to sink in the ground and open the path ahead.
  • Organ Drops: Yokai will normally have a rare drop that is actually part of their body. This includes horns, feathers, legs, eyes, tongues, necks, claws and various other body parts that can be used to forge new weapons and armour.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The second (or third if you count the executioner) boss of the game is Hino-Enma, a winged woman of unearthly beauty with a distinct bat motif who seduces men so that she can take them back to her lair, mummify them and drink their blood.
  • Rainbow Pimp Gear: Defied, as the game itself discourages you from putting random pieces of armor based purely on stats with Armor Sets that provide large boosts to your performance the more pieces of that set you're using. On top of that, you can "Refashion" armor and weapons at the blacksmith so that they can take on the appearance of other equipment; the process is extremely cheap, so there's no real reason to invoke this except by choice.
  • Red Spider Lilies of Mourning: The tears of the Ogress fill the area you fight her in with these flowers. She's really the spirit of Senahime, who's still bitter over Ieyasu ordering for their son to be executed.
  • Palette Swap: Mudman and Harinobo are just reskinned Lesser Umi-bozus. Kappas got a red variation in the DLC as did the One-eyed Oni which got a ice themed Snowclops.
  • Pirates vs. Ninjas: Amusingly as William's backstory got changed to him being a pirate this happens any time the player fights agaisnt a ninja character.
  • Randomly Drops: All enemies drop loot with a combination of either accessories, armor, consumable items and weapons.
  • Random Drop Booster: Items, armour, weapons, titles and Spirit Guardians can all boost your Luck stat; giving players a better chance of collecting higher tier items. In New Game + you can offer a special item that'll increase the chances the player will find Divine (and higher) items.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The Kodama: the glowing, implike spirits are absolutely adorable, especially seeing them clustered on the shrines as you rescue them one by one. Some of the Guardian Spirits could count, as well.
  • Reset Button: Visiting a shrine regenerates lost Hit Points, and certain consumables but also respawns almost all non-boss enemies. note 
  • Resources Management Gameplay: Aside from rationing consumable items, attacks must be used conservatively to avoid continuous spamming, else players risk depleting the entire Ki gauge, rendering them immobile for a brief moment and entirely vulnerable to attacks.
  • Salt Solution: Throwing salt causes a chunk of Ki damage to any nearby Yōkai.
  • Sequel Hook: After defeating John Dee, William receives a vision of the Siege of Osaka and decides to return to Japan, setting up the events of the DLC.
    • At the end of Bloodshed's End, Lady Maria has pretty much gotten away with everything plus we don't really know who she's working for or what her motivations are. In fact William tells Hanzo he thinks she'll eventually return to Japan.
  • Shout-Out: A side mission in the Kinki Region is called "The Battle of Ohashi Bridge" and involves fighting a large masked man who has been stealing weapons from people, on a large bridge, who is assisted by green-colored creatures (or a flying tengu), and who drops Genji gear upon defeat... All trademark features of Gilgamesh from Final Fantasy V.
    • Though the monk isn't named, it's blatantly obvious that he is Benkei and the mission is a recreation of his famous encounter with Minamoto Yoshitsune.
  • Spoiler Opening: The opening movie reveals most of the game plot for anyone with a bit of knowledge about Sengoku Era Japan: William and Kelley will join the opposite sides of the Battle of Sekigahara and Kelley's ultimate plan involve resurrecting Demon King Nobunaga.note 
  • Stance System:
    • Nioh uses a high, middle, and low stance basis for all melee weapons to determine what string of attacks are available for players and human enemies. Additionally, each stance has its own sets of skills exclusive to it and the weapon players are wielding. This system also applies to most enemies, notably in the human Mooks, whose animations look just like William's with the respective weapons.
    • Middle stance is a balanced style with a few key defensive boons, lessening the penalty of blocking, and can damage the Ki of enemies with strong attacks. This stance often has skills focused on counterattacks and throwing opponents off balance.
    • High stance is a strength-oriented style, with highly damaging strikes, but very slow startups and short attack chains. Skills in high stance are focused on smashing through guards by rapidly draining Ki and dealing massive damage to vulnerable opponents.
    • Low stance is a mobility-focused style, allowing for hit-and-run skills, quick evasive dashes with low Ki cost, and swift attack chains at the price of weaker strikes. Skills are focus on rushing and flanking maneuvers or unorthodox strikes.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Okatsu and William fall in love over the course of the story, but with William's Faking the Dead, and Okatsu choosing to stay loyal to Ieyasu (who is now implicitly an enemy of William due to the reason for aforementioned Faking the Dead), rather than follow William, any possible relationship they might have had ended before it ever began. The sequel averted this as William's son was blessed with Okatsu's guardian spirit Gyokuto, pretty much confirmed the identity of his mother.
  • Status Effects: A few effects are quite obvious to tell, but others aren't, especially as the names given may not explain their respective element.
    • Scorched/Fire: Deals Damage Over Time in small, rapid intervals. This status can be quickly negated by performing dodge maneuvers.
    • Electrified/Lightning: Slows attack and movement speed.
    • Muddied/Earth: Doubles Ki consumption on actions. This effect is weakened against Yokai, since they don't consume Ki for attacks, but works best against human enemies since they consume Ki like you do.
    • Saturated/Water: Increases damage taken from all sources.
    • Blustered/Wind: Probably the most complicated one. Reduces the victims physical attack power. Penalty to enemy guard maneuvers, making them susceptible to quick or even instant Guard Break, and increasing Ki damage taken.
    • Paralysis: Stops all movement and action on the spot. Can only be negated by using Paralysis recovery items.
    • Poison: Deals Damage Over Time in large, slow intervals over a long amount of time. Can only be negated by using Poison recovery items.
    • Sickness: A unique status effect available only to a specific stage, enemy, and items. Increases damage taken, as well as a unique penalty to William. Using recovery items causes him to vomit, leaving him unable to act for a period of time and vulnerable to attack.
    • Discord/Confusion: When inflicted with at least two elemental status ailments (meaning Paralysis and Poison don't count), the victim falls into a state of Confusion, severely slowing them and increasing damage taken as well as severe additional penalties. For Yokai, their Ki is locked at zero, causing them to be staggered on every hit, and thus potentially being stunlocked for the duration of the effect. For humans, it severely reduces their Ki recovery.
  • Story And Gameplay Integration: A character's set and Guardian Spirit fit their own personality very well:
    • The Tachibanas are a loving couple, thus their Guardian Spirits are stronger together. Ginchiyo's Raikiri also help setup Muneshige's Warrior of the West's damage bonus against Electrified enemies.
    • Tachibana Muneshige places Honor Before Reason, and his set bonus increases frontal damage dealt at the cost of eliminating backstab damage entirely.
    • Kobayakawa Hideaki is a cowardly petty schemer whose Kingo's set and Guardian Spirit all focus on backstabbing and killing strike damage.
    • Kobayakawa's Good Counterpart Kikkawa Hiroie, is a Lovable Coward whose quest see him striving to live up to his father expectation and legacy. His Guardian Spirit Hi-nezumi lends strength to those possessing the will to face difficult problems head-on.
    • Kuroda Nagamasa is young and bull-headed, so it's very fitting that his armor and spirit are both Bull theme and focus on charging in and surviving battles.
    • Nagamasa's father Kuroda Kanbei is a master strategist who focus on the prosperity and future of his clan. His Guardian spirit os Mizuchi - a dragon revered for their wisdom and his set bonus allow you to sense your enemies and treasure.
    • Inverted with Ieyasu's double. The lack of a Guardian Spirit tip William off that the man before him is just a "pretentious little prick" and not the real deal.
    • In a briliant bits of Story Breadcrumbs from the DLC Shima Sakon reappeared and using Misunari's Guardian Spirit, completing the sequel hooks at the end of the base game.
  • Superboss: An ancestor of the Hayabusa ninja clan. Notably he completely plays straight the otherwise-heavily averted My Rules Are Not Your Rules by having access to attacks and ninjutsu straight from that game, meaning he can pull off feats of agility, magic, and swordsmanship that are completely impossible for a player to ever match.
  • Super Mode: Upon collecting enough Amrita, while also having a Guardian Spirit imbued with William, players can temporarily fuse the equipped Spirit with their currently equipped weapon to gain enhanced damage, infinite Ki and a buffer against damage. In this state, both Hit Points and Ki are replaced by a single bar representing duration of this mode, which decreases as William takes damage or uses Ki. This form can end prematurely should players switch weapons, and the exact bonuses vary between Guardian Spirits, but it can be used to turn the tide of battle or deal a finishing blow when in a pinch. In some circumstances, and with correct application, it can completely shut down threats and bosses as well.
  • Tactical Door Use: Normally not a viable tactic as most levels don't have closing doors, however one area in particular has rotating walls that act as doors in the level. Making it fully possible for players to speed run through areas using the doors to prevent enemies from following them.
  • Technicolor Ninjas: The DLC adds bright orange ninjas, keeping with the enemy colour found in the battle.
  • Toilet Humour: An entire stage based around it, nearly; you start in the sewers, with the foul smell inflicting the "Sickness" status effect making healing difficult. There are pots of what is implied to be sewage that can be broken for a similar effect. There are "Mudmen", a variant of the common Blob Monster that appears to be made out of literal shit, likewise with the Mud Jars that appear to be throwable pots of sewage to inflict Sickness on foes. For more blatant examples, Dung Balls can be collected and directly thrown, and even come in Solid Gold Poop variants; and a certain fellow will trade you for them in exchange for a shortcut. Finally, the common Dweller enemies here don't throw bombs like they do elsewhere; instead they throw what appear to be actual stink bombs.
  • Translation Convention: All of William's dialogue is in English, but characters all understand him due to the Nekomata giving him the ability to be understood by the locals. Subverted when William first meets with Hanzo Hattori, who converses with him in (heavily accented) English. When the below trope comes into effect, Hanzo switches back to Japanese (though sometimes he switches back to English) as well as with Kelley, who "speaks" Japanese via telepathy.
  • Translator Microbes: Early on in the game, a Guardian Spirit gives William the ability to speak and understand Japanese; it's not perfect though, even with the magical helping on the side Tachibana remarks that William's Japanese is a bit rough. And apparently William can turn them off at will, when he first met "Ieyasu" and noticed the man had no spiritual power, he rudely asks Hanzo how he could follow such a man. One of Ieyasu's retainers angrily asks what William said; Hanzo gives a much politer translation, but the retainer isn't convinced that was what William really said.
  • Translation Style Choices: The game goes back and forth in leaving the Yokai names untranslated or not, the majority remains with their original names untouched, like Yuki-onna and Umi-bozu but there are odd cases where the creature gets its name translated in English, like Hyaku-me being translated as Hundred Eyes.
  • Two-Keyed Lock: One level features the player teaming up with an NPC; which was lucky for William as the boss room was locked behind two of these requiring them to activate magical stands at the same time.
  • Uncanny Valley: Hino-Enma may have the basic shape and appearance of a human woman, but the face...the face is pale and waxy and so flagrantly 'off' that it's a twisted parody: a monster pretending to be human and failing miserably. This is almost certainly intentional, considering the Yokai's pedigree.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Players can eventually learn how to transform into any of the major non-playable characters. However, the transformations are purely cosmetic; they do not wear any of William's equipment, no NPC has any unique reaction, and the cutscenes still show William's default look instead of the character he transformed into.
  • Warm-Up Boss: Derrik the Executioner: he's certainly more dangerous than the Mooks you've been butchering in the Tower of London, but his first phase is simply an axe-wielding Revenant, and is so slow and clumsy he'll only ever hit you if you're careless. His Oni form is intimidating to be sure, but you don't even have to deplete his health: get rid of his stamina, and William will dispatch him in a cutscene.
  • Western Samurai: Based off of the real historical figure, William Adams is an Irish-born Englishman who soon adopts samurai armor and samurai weapons in the game.
  • Where It All Began: The first and the last main missions take place in the Tower of London.
  • Willfully Weak: Implied with Nobunaga, who treats literally everything, including his fights with you, like some sort of game, as evidenced in the cutscenes during the main story where he effortlessly overpowers and almost kills William before getting bored of being resurrected and leaving to go back to the afterlife on his own terms.


Video Example(s):



A large and very strange looking yokai that inhabits ocean waters. Also known as "umi-nyudo" and "umi-hoshi". A famed yokai of many legends; it takes its name, which literally means "sea-monk", from its round, bald head. Its appearances inevitably herald violent storms.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / SeaMonster

Media sources: