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Review: Team Ninja’s Rise of the Ronin – A Step forward in a Fresh Direction

Team Ninja’s Rise of the Ronin: A Game Changer

Team Ninja is known for creating linear games with challenging combat, but their latest release, Rise of the Ronin, breaks away from tradition. With its bold story and open-world elements, this game represents Team Ninja’s ambition to appeal to a wider audience. Although it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, Rise of the Ronin offers enough style and substance to make players feel like a slick samurai.

This blade needs sharpening

The world of Rise of the Ronin is set during the Bakumatsu period, a time of civil war in Japan. As a Ronin, a masterful samurai, players are embroiled in the conflict between the Tokugawa Shogunate and rebellious forces. This historical backdrop provides an intriguing setting and a chance to interact with prominent figures from that era.

The game’s storytelling is one of its strongest aspects. Team Ninja has always excelled in this area, and Rise of the Ronin is no exception. The narrative includes genuinely shocking moments that surpass the impact of their previous games, such as Nioh and Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty.

However, there is a slight disconnect between the story and gameplay. Despite engaging in intense battles with adversaries, the characters quickly become allies in the following cutscenes. This ludonarrative dissonance can break immersion for some players.

A cut above the rest

Team Ninja’s expertise in combat shines through in Rise of the Ronin. The game inherits the satisfying and visceral combat mechanics seen in Ninja Gaiden and its predecessors. Brutal slashes and strikes provide players with a strange pleasure, even though they may feel guilty for enjoying such violence.

The gameplay of Rise of the Ronin carries the torch from Nioh and Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. The familiar weapons, fluid character movements, and challenging difficulty maintain the essence of previous Team Ninja titles. Moreover, the game introduces new elements like verticality, assassinations, and a parry system that rewards players for precise timing.

More than just a Soulslike

While some may argue that Rise of the Ronin isn’t a true Soulslike due to its customizable difficulty settings, it still incorporates many elements from the genre. Enemies respawn, healing items are limited, and challenging boss battles await players. However, the boss fights in Rise of the Ronin don’t reach the epic scale of Team Ninja’s earlier work.

Nonetheless, each battle in Rise of the Ronin is intense, making players feel the constant threat of death. Learning attack patterns, parrying, and timing strikes become crucial skills for survival. Overcoming these challenges brings a sense of accomplishment and keeps the gameplay engaging.

Out with the old?

Rise of the Ronin tries to appeal to a broader audience by offering a more player-friendly experience. The game’s abundance of quality-of-life features, such as customizable difficulty and an accessible open-world design, cater to casual players. However, this departure from Team Ninja’s linear style may be viewed as an identity crisis by some fans.

In conclusion, Rise of the Ronin offers an enjoyable experience with a well-crafted world, thrilling combat encounters, and Team Ninja’s distinctive style. Despite some flaws, it stands as a testament to Team Ninja’s growth and willingness to embrace change. The game may not have completely revolutionized the genre, but it leaves players curious about the direction the studio will take in the future.

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