Ready for Dark Souls in feudal Japan? Because that's exactly what you get with Nioh, and all the controller-chucking frustration implied in that comparison. Prepare to die, and die, and die from enemies who take you apart in two hits until you memorize the patterns to beat them.
The differences are primarily aesthetic - instead of bonfires, you'll be leveling up and junking old equipment at shrines with adorable kapa – but if the Souls franchise has you hooked, there's no doubt you'll love this deadly samurai title.
There are some interesting changes however, like the varying stances between every type of weapon resulting in drastically different battle plans.
Well, at least it's more creative than “You Died.”
As with Dark Souls, the bosses are particularly challenging and will require many attempts before you figure out what pattern or build is best suited to surviving.
The first major boss, an oversized oni called Onryoki, is particularly going to give new players a hard time if they aren't familiar with the gameplay yet.
First and foremost, remember to LOCK ON to the boss. You don't want to accidentally dodge in the wrong direction or rush forward and hit empty air. There's too little room for error here.
I recommend sticking with the middle stance and a katana on this battle. You want to strike quickly00 but deal a decent amount of damage so you aren't dragging the battle on longer than necessary. If you have the speed and skills, the top stance with an axe can also be effective, since you will typically be dealing more damage per hit.
This guy is going to kill you so, so many times!
Onryoki appears to be susceptible to elemental damage – particularly wind and lightning - so if you have a talisman for either, be sure to use it. Make sure you have a few elixirs on hand for when you mess up your dodge and get hit, as even one landed strike will knock out most of your health.
Also be sure to use a sacred water right as the battle begins – running out of stamina when you need to dodge will be deadly in this fight.
There are two phases to the battle with Onryoki: the first section with the giant chain balls, and the second phase when they disconnect.
To whittle down his health there is a specific pattern that works much better than any other. Dodge around and behind him just as he starts to lunge and is about to strike, then get off two katana strokes and quickly move away before he whirls his giant balls around for a strike.
When you do it right, it will look like you are basically dodging between his legs. Two quick dodges backwards should do the trick to avoid his counterattack, but you may have to go sideways if you've been backed into a corner area.
Striking his back after dodging around his feet
Depending on which post-attack ability he uses, you may be able to get three sword strikes in, but don't push it – that's a quick path to an empty health bar. If you are using a slower weapon, like an axe, you will probably only get one attack off, but can potentially do more damage.
Err on the side of the caution. Its better to go only get a single hit in and doge his counter attack then two get three hits in and get taken down.
Stay out of range and wait for him to start walking towards you again, dodging to the side and behind him just as rears back for a lunge attack, and repeat the process. Continue this same pattern until the second phase of the battle.
Dodging out of range
It takes some practice, but once you have the rhythm down, this battle stops being impossibly difficult. You can tell he's about to strike because he lowers his head slightly and starts to push forward – this is the exact moment to roll. Too early or too late and you'll get hit and knocked back. Timing is absolutely key here.
Although in general you should always stick to that same pattern, there are times where you should be willing to take some risk if you are in a different position to the boss when you are lined up to strike. If you are quick, you can get an attack in on his front while he recovers from lunging, then dodge to the side and get in another attack before having to dash away to avoid the circular strikes.
A potential second tactic to take during the first phase is viable if you can learn the exact the radius of his circular swings. Instead of staying close to dodge between his legs, hang out just at the periphery of his swings with your guard constantly up.
Staying outside the ball radius
If you are just at the outside it will miss you entirely, and if you are just slightly within range the first hit should be negated by your katana guard. If you always stay to the side of the boss, its easy to rush in and get in several hits, then retreat to just outside the radius gain.
When his balls disconnect from the chains, rush in to get a few free attacks while he's staggered, but from then on you have to work harder to avoid getting hit. The best bet is to stay far away to avoid his claw attacks altogether, then quickly dodge forward to strike and immediately sprint out of the way just before he attacks.
If you are on the other side of the room when he throws a ball, dodge to the side just as his arm completes its forward swing and before the ball actually starts flying.
Dodgeball: feudal Japan edition!
Eventually his post-attack recovery gets a bit longer when his balls are disconnected. When he uses a claw attack and falls over on the ground, run up to slice several times. This lets you know you are getting close to the end.
He is also briefly vulnerable to attack while he is lifting the ball in the air. If you are facing him during this brief window, rush up to hit and then sprint backward or to the side to the side immediately.
Using this method, the battle should take between three and a half to four minutes to complete, but he will eventually go down for good.
How many tries did it take for you to finally take down this diabolical boss, and do you have any tips for making the fight easier that we missed?