We need some more sunlight in this game or something.
I started NiOh for the first time, and while there’s much to say about the game’s battle system, storyline, or other details, I want to briefly touch on something I immediately don’t like after playing this game for about 15 hours.
This game is too dark.
The first scene finds William escaping a prison, which was very dark. Aside from torches and your save shrine lighting up the space, there isn’t much to see. After defeating the first boss, you think there’s more to see. The cutscene of the boat traveling to Japan contains beautiful and colorful CG that almost sets a standard for what the game is capable of! But William steps down from that boat to a small bed of grass and flowers, and surrounding him is the ocean and the path of the first mission. Walking by buildings, killing enemies along the way, everything looks like a recipe for eye porn but really what you’re looking at is a lot of the same dark neutral colors everywhere: gray, black, brown, moss green, maroon, midnight blue. It’s not exciting to look at and it’s not dynamic.
I learned very quickly this game really has no sense of time, and everything remained drab throughout the beginning levels. It would make sense if passing through save points, the daylight would change in some way. I was half expecting at some point upon landing in Japan that the sun would rise, and it never did. We get glimpses of the moon, which is beautiful in this game!
Aside from the obvious nighttime focus, a lot of the scene just sort of blends together. Everything is the same color, and you seldom see a stark contrast in things unless there’s magic and fantastical occurrence or cutscene. There are parts where the murky environment works for the scene, but other times it all looks too similar. The player and the enemies all match the background, and it’s not a good thing gameplay wise and for intriguing the senses.
With the glittering amrita, yokai, spirit animals, I understand the unlit stages differentiate those figures. The game highlights the guardian spirits, probably because they’re an instrumental part to your ki and health. Also, due to the game focusing on the supernatural, much of the demon lore fits more in a nighttime setting. Another important mechanic highlighted is elemental magic, and the fire dancing around enemies is really a treat to see.
I have a long way to go in NiOh, and I’m fully aware things change in the future based on other gameplay footage. There are a lot of other parts I really enjoy about the game, and I’m hoping the art direction will lighten up a bit as I move forward.