Rise of the Ronin – Review

Rise of the Ronin is a PS5 Exclusive that is a great Samurai experience at exactly the right time. Stories based on Japanese warriors have made a resurgence in pop culture recently with TV shows like “Blue Eyed Samurai, Shogun and House of Ninjas” and the announcement that one of the best “Ghosts of Tsushima” is about to be released on PC so introducing another PS5 exclusive from Team Ninja makes perfect sense.

Team Ninja are the developers that nailed the ninja genre previously with Ninja Gaiden and Nioh and in Rise of the Ronin you get an even more detailed story, solid gameplay as well as a combat system that is as intuitive as it is lethal.

Setting it during the Bakumatsu period is a fantastic choice not only for the narrative but also for the game mechanics. This is where a new era begins in Japan with a collision of east and west. So you’ll find yourself wielding Samurai blades and pole weapons but at the same time be introduced to classic pistols and rifles. Using this variety of combat  makes for some epic takedowns.

The story evolves as you play one of the “Blade Twins” , a brother and sister with a horrific past that train and fight together to be an ultimate weapon. After a failed assassination you are separated from your twin and into the open world style game play. 

The campaign runs approximately 25 hours but far longer for completionists who seek out the hidden adventures throughout the land. The game has many choice executed side missions so there is some replay value in wanting to discover more of the story, however after the game is over there was very little want to go back for more. 

The game bends history to fit its narrative and feels at times more like an almost an adjacent alternative history with some steampunk styling that makes the characters more fun and engaging without being just outright crazy. If nothing else the real life historical characters would benefit from this game as players become interested in the colourful lore in Japanese culture.

At times the game surprises you with strange but welcome concepts that further your power and progression. One of which is the glider that can be used from nearly any height. It’s taken straight out of the “Zelda” playbook but is a welcome addition to improve the way you traverse the land and use stealth. The grappling hook is another classic trope that requires very little skill to deploy. It is handy in both combat and exploration situations.

Graphically it’s nice enough to look at but don’t expect the stunning landscapes and character design you’d get in something like “Ghosts of Tsushima”. This simply isn’t on the same level and at times feels almost PS4. Which is strange because 5 minutes later it will slap you in the face with something clearly next gen looking. Consistency is the problem, it’s like it was started on one system and was then converted to another but never quite polished for the later. None of it takes away from the gameplay but it is noticeable and deserves to be pointed out for what is a full priced game.

The character creation gives you a lot of physical control so you feel in control of your character from the beginning of the game. You also get to develop your blade style, in a practice area that teaches you the basics of combat before moving onto the game proper.

Character progression is more RPG than I would have expected with emphasis on various skills like Strength, Dexterity, Intellect and even Charm. Growing these skills and developing your weapons skills is vital to survive the higher level enemies that will come your way.

Combat is the true hero of Rise of the Ronin. Team Ninja are famous for it and it is at times frustratingly brutal but highly addictive and quick to drag you back into the action for more. There were countless times I’d get too cocky after blasting through one group of enemies using flashy “Counterspark” only to simply be taught a huge lesson a minute later when my timing seemed to be way off.

Rise of the Ronin is a solid title with a vast, engaging story and entertaining gameplay. The world is great to explore and the nods to real life historical figures is really well worked in. Graphically it’s ok, but not the visual masterpiece you’d want from such a colourful part of history. At times it feels like a Team Ninja take on the Assassin’s Creed genre. While it’s not perfect I enjoyed my time with the game and thanks to Sony for providing a copy for the review. I would certainly welcome further updates and DLC to the title but even if they don’t decide to add to it the length alone is worth the price tag..

Rise of the Ronin is a Solid 7 out of 10

Doccy Darko

Doccy Darko

Content Creator / Radio Announcer / Gamer / Podcaster / Reviewer / Loving Dad

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