Rise of the Ronin

Rise of the Ronin - Video Review

Team Ninja's open-world action RPG has a lot going for it, but can it stand out among the behemoths of today?

Audio transcription

"Rise of the Ronin officially began development all the way back in 2015 as a passion project for Japanese developer Team Ninja, bringing the history of its country to life with some fast paced combat, an intricate story and more."

"However, the vision for the game supposedly began even before that.
Other projects like Nioh got in the way, but now the day is finally here.
Rise of the Ronin is upon us, and we are the Ronin who is indeed rising.
Taking on the role of the Blade of the Veiled Edge, we pick ourselves up from a tragic event early on in the story and forge our own future, all the while meandering through one of the most tumultuous times in Japanese history."

"Unlike Nioh and Woe Long Fallen Dynasty, which both take inspiration from history but are at their core fantasy games, Team Ninja has gone all out here in enriching players in the history of 19th century Japan.
We're not just playing the video game version of a textbook, as we still impact the course of history if we wish, but there is an impressive level of detail and care in placing you in this revolutionary era for Japan and giving key figures from history new life as properly fleshed out characters."

"It probably helps that there was naturally a lot of conflict in this game.
There are a lot of great moments for us to flash our sword and let some heads roll, but Team Ninja's emphasis on its setting and story shouldn't go unnoticed here.
Rise of the Ronin does feel like a culmination of Team Ninja's previous work when it comes to its narrative."

"The side characters in particular really help the story flow, and what may first seem like a pretty clear-cut case of goodies vs baddies develops to a point where you're not even sure any side you could have picked can really be called the right one.
A lot of strengths in the NPCs come from Rise of the Ronin."

"When you meet an important person in Rise of the Ronin, you won't just be approaching them for the occasional mission and seeing them pop up in cutscenes.
You can develop your relationship further with them through gifts and talking with them.
Story scenes can also help build your bond depending on the decisions you choose, similar to the approval system in Baldur's Gate 3."

"The stronger your bond with your allies, the more likely they are to do favours for you, and the stronger they are in battle.
During certain missions, you can bring up to two NPC allies with you in order to share the burden of taking on the role of the NPC."

"This is a massive help when it comes to the trickier combat encounters, as tough enemies and bosses in Rise of the Ronin will stick to you like flies on honey if you're not careful.
Getting a moment to heal can be rare in these breathless brawls, and so having an ally or two to get the heat off you is a literal lifesaver."

"The true sadists out there won't be happy to hear this, but luckily they can just ramp up the difficulty and even remove allies from these missions if they so wish.
Otherwise Rise of the Ronin's combat is a joy to play.
It pays to really throw yourself into the combat as the more you progress you'll get access to different fighting styles and just generally feel more like a swordsman or woman of legend."

"The counter spark mechanic is particularly effective at making you feel like an absolute combat god as when you get your parry timings down on an enemy you become next to unstoppable.
Rise of the Ronin's combat isn't the most challenging I've played, but instead of focusing on rewarding you by letting you beat a boss by the skin of your teeth, you keep coming back to Ronin's combat because it's simply fun to play."

"It's a lot of fun to play, but it's also a lot of fun to play.
It's a lot of fun to play, but it's a lot of fun to play.
Picking a new fighting style, weapon and sub-weapon can completely change up how you approach your duels."

"There's a lot of variety, but Team Ninja hasn't gone for quantity over quality as there's a satisfying depth to each of the weapons you can equip yourself with.
Even if the fights are fun to play in Rise of the Ronin you might find yourself wanting to avoid them in some instances."

"Get ambushed by even two enemies and you can find yourself easily battered.
Stealth comes in handy a lot of times in Rise of the Ronin and while the game doesn't have as much emphasis placed on sneaking around, it's a lot of fun to play.
It still feels incredibly rewarding to plan out a route, grapple one enemy from a rooftop before snapping their neck, float down from your glider to deal with the next and get a good chunk of damage in on a boss by shanking them in the back."

"Apart from the bloodier sides of the game, there's a whole beautiful world to explore as well.
The game isn't the most breathtakingly detailed you'll ever see, but Rise of the Ronin is usually quite gorgeous, especially when you find yourself atop a hill looking out at a field of cherry blossoms or Mount Fuji in the distance."

"However, unlike the game's details, it's a lot of fun to play.
In terms of deep combat, the open world largely feels shallow and quite vapid, it's very reminiscent of an Assassin's Creed game from recent times where there's a lot to do, cats to pet, bandit camps to clear out, photos to take, more cats to pet, but you're often left wondering what the point of doing any of it is besides getting XP and filling out your big list of things to collect."

"Some will enjoy this style of open world, but it is something that feels of the past now, especially when we've had open world experiences like Elden Ring and The Legend of Zelda Tis the Kingdom.
The world is just the world in Rise of the Ronin."

"Rather than a character in itself, you constantly want to find more about.
When the story side characters and their missions are so inviting, this feels like a shame.
While Rise of the Ronin is a natural evolution of Team Ninja's past work, it hasn't managed to shed all the fat from its previous games, namely the loot system is a bit of a mess."

"After almost every fight you're given a piece of equipment which most of the time is just going to sit in your inventory until it is sold or disassembled.
When each piece of loot that doesn't glow gold feels pretty unnecessary, it's easy to grow frustrated with the clutter."

"Really, all you need to do is pick the item with the biggest number and the highest rarity as the rest of the buffs you get are often pretty negligible.
If loot was sparser and mattered more, perhaps I wouldn't mind some inventory mess, but the way Rise of the Ronin implements its loot makes me avoid picking up items from enemies unless I need some healing."

"Rise of the Ronin is going to draw a lot of comparisons as more people get their hands on it, and even though it does take inspiration from a lot of successful games, Team Ninja's work in creating a great action RPG packed with addictive combat excellent.
There are some missteps that will prevent Rise of the Ronin from reaching outstanding heights, but even so, it's still a title that's easy to recommend."





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