The Nioh Collection Review: Bringing Back the Demons
The original Nioh released in 2017 and immediately became a hit among fans of ultra-hard action-centric RPGs. Nioh 2 released three years later to more positive reception, and our Nioh 2 review was no exception.
Now the Nioh Collection has come to PS5 and PC, bringing technical improvements and the full suite of post-game content for each title. That’s all the DLC and optimized gameplay, new weapons and abilities, and tons of additional missions and story content.
Here, we’re talking about how the remasters play on the new hardware, what the biggest improvements are, and what's still lacking. There’s a bit to cover, so let’s dig in.
The Nioh Collection Review: Bringing Back the Demons
Reviewed on a PS5, the Nioh series plays better than ever. It’s clear the developers at Team Ninja took what they learned from the first game’s PC port and built upon it. You can set either title to 60 FPS at 4K resolution and watch the framerate stay smooth as butter. The image remains crisp, and even in some of the highest-intensity gameplay segments, the visuals stay locked at that magic number.
If all you care about are the frames, the Nioh Collection has you covered. By dropping the resolution and some more demanding graphical enhancements, you’ll see a relatively stable 120 FPS. It’s not perfect, and PC users are reporting significant frame stutter above locked 60, but the PS5 seems somewhat more stable.
Perhaps the star of the show, on PS5 at least, is the loading times. The much-hyped solid-state drive takes every loading screen from 30 seconds to three seconds. If Nioh didn’t have a restart mission prompt, there’d be no way to actually read any of the screens. In games as brutal as these, you’ll be thankful for the brief delay.
Weapons, Modes, Yokai, Oh My
The Nioh Collection gives you full access to all the DLC weapons from the get-go, allowing lapsed players to experience an entirely new set of combat mechanics. Somehow, while the new options are strong, they don’t completely outclass the vanilla options. The basic sword is still just as effective as the new claw and fist weapons.
There are also three additional playthroughs after New Game+, all of them adding new enemies, areas, bosses, abilities, upgrades, and so much more. It really is a new game, too.
Two entirely new item rarities, new enemy behaviors, and AI tweaks — Team Ninja went the extra mile making sure every time you progress into a harder difficulty, it is actually more challenging and equally rewarding.
What Needs Work (But Won’t Get It)
Don’t go into the Nioh Collection expecting the Demon’s Souls remake. The models, textures, environments, etc., haven’t seen overhauled. Some effort’s been made to smooth over the rough edges, sharpen the image, and make areas visually cleaner, but this is still very much the games that released in 2017 and 2020 from the visual standpoint.
Sadly, beyond the framerate, loading times, and visual sharpness, little of the extra power inherent in the PS5 or the PC platform sees much use here. The Collection still takes up a pretty piece of real estate on the SSD, and PC users have had performance and software stability issues since launch. It’s not as though we expected more than some quality of life improvements on this front, but more time updating even some of the assets would have been appreciated.
You’ll also be disappointed if you want a better-written story. The narratives of both Nioh and Nioh 2 remain some of their weakest points and serve as a means to get you to the next combat encounter. It’s coherent enough, and the DLCs are a bit better, but none of it is anything to write home about.
Mechanically, there are plenty of annoyances that can lead to significant frustration the longer you play. Bosses tend to have oddly shaped hitboxes or attacks that don’t function how they appear they should. There seems to have been no effort to iron out borderline-broken enemies who break the rules because they can, and certain sections could have used a tuning pass they didn’t see.
The UI is as messy as ever, as well, and you’ll spend hours sorting through awkward menus looking for the perfect setup.
In short, the Nioh Collection is purely a technical upgrade. Expecting much more with 2020’s circumstances asks far too much of a team that still produced a game worth hundreds of hours.
The Nioh Collection Review — The Bottom Line
- A technical overhaul, taking advantage of some of the biggest-ticket next-gen talking points
- All the content ever released for both Nioh games
- The same excellent mechanics the series is known for
- Fails to take full advantage of next-gen and PC hardware
- None of the frustrating issues saw any addressing
- The story remains one of the weakest points
The Nioh Collection is not going to convert anyone who doesn’t already like it. If beating your head against a boss for hours until the glorious moment of inspiration strikes isn’t for you, nothing here will change that. However, if you are a fan, this upgrade is one of the easiest purchases you’ll make this year.
Even Nioh veterans can find something to love here if they haven’t seen everything on their original releases. The additional difficulties and commensurate rewards are a constant draw, and the performance enhancements make the experience more enjoyable than ever.
Do bear in mind, however, that many of the warts from the original release remain. Expecting a complete rework is asking too much.
All that doesn’t take away from what really makes the Nioh series magical: the top-of-its-class combat, addicting loot mechanics, and vast build variety. These games are both rage-inducing and immensely satisfying at a stretch, something few pieces of media pull off.
If you’re looking for a new game to beat you into submission before you learn its secrets, and you want to play the best version of it, pick up the Nioh Collection. It will hurt, but you’ll get so much more in return.
[Note: Sony provided the PS5 version of the Nioh Collection used for this review.]