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Rise Of The Ronin | REVIEW | PS5

''THE RONIN STRIKE BACK''

 


Developed: Team Ninja

Published: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Genre: Action Adventure

Release Date: March 22nd, 2024

Platforms: PS5

Review copy provided by Playstation


Rise Of The Ronin is the latest anticipated title from the folks a Team Ninja and it is developed by of course, Team Ninja, and published by SIE. With the market currently propping up samurai games like the popular Ghost Of Tsushima, Team Ninja decided ''hey we can do that too'' and chose to take their shot at making a hit. But is this the samurai title we've all been waiting for or did it need a little more time to cook? Only one way to find out, so lets go!


STORY:


Japan, 1863. After three centuries of the Tokugawa Shogunate’s reign, the Black Ships of the West descend upon the nation’s borders and the country falls into a state of turmoil. Amidst the chaos of war, disease and political unrest, a nameless warrior forges their own path, holding the very fate of Japan in their hands.


''EVERYTHING THE LIGHT TOUCHES, IS OUR KINGDOM''

 

GAMEPLAY:


Its time to head back to Japan, but not to the boxing ring for Hajime No Ippo, not to the arcades of Umaru-Chan, not to the schools of Azumanga Daioh, and not to the Worlds Martial Arts Tournament for Dragon Ball. Nope, this time we return to 19th century Japan to experience Team Ninja's inaugural leap into the format that has become commonplace, open world. I mean we've been there before, and no were not talking about Ghost Of Tsushima, were talking about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 from 1993. What? didn't expect me to reference that one? why not? maybe you were uhh.. expecting the Addams Family? Ok Ok. I'm not going to quote and make jokes based of TMNT 3, but I had to get that one out of my system. Because this is Team Ninja's first go in an open world setting of this nature, I was eager to see just what they had up their sleeves and take note of what works and what doesn't in order to see how any future games under this banner would need to improve on in the future. Moving away from the traditional way this company does things is actually a pretty big gamble, but success never comes by just being complacent, it comes by putting all chips on the table and going for broke in the video game business, so the transitioning from their more linear level design to the new format, I can honestly say did produce commendable results, albeit not perfect ones, but you gotta start somewhere right? I mean look at the old Atari adventure games from back in the day that had players from all around the world compete in challenges to win gold swords, crowns, crystals, et. Sure, that completely bankrupted Atari out of the industry alongside bombs like E.T. but THOSE specific adventure games? walked so adventure games like this can run.. and that's the thought process you have to go into first attempts like this and not compare it to games like the most recent Ghost Of Tsushima because that's just not fair to do. Traversing this big land you're tasked with journeying all across the land(searching far and wide) to complete tasks for people or the main stories objectives. However, a lot of the time, the tasks feel a tad bit mundane to engage with or fail to maintain your interest level enough to motivate you to keep trying to do them, with certain missions making you feel the sigh of ''oh god? really? another one?''. Which is my exact reaction every time a new Fast and Furious movie comes out. ITS ALL ABOUT FAMILY BRO.

So what are the tasks you're given while adventuring in this open world? welp first you're told you must go collect a bunch of cats and gather them together? umm.. ok? sure, why not. After you gather the cats, the reward for actually doing it is subpar and does not add to the experience of task + reward like other titles do in this genre and same goes for quests like collecting literature or compiling a batch of photographs for multiple characters that need your help. Sure that sounds like it might be decent right? and since they're also so mundane, it gives you a chance to test out different buttons, combos and other mechanics of the gameplay so that you aren't confused by the time you get to the major stuff involving the story. But even still, your rewards do feel worth your time and effort from tasks that can take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes to complete, they feel monotonous and a grind that's not worth grinding for. I've had better grinding sessions in Final Fantasy 11 at Crawlers Nest for 10 hours and that was a slog. I know I'm being a bit harsh and to be fair there are some quests that do feel really good and do yield some good experience and world exploration, but I feel they're too far and in between that the weight between GREAT side quests and world treading is too spread out from the ones that just come off as boring and do not feel essential to your journey, nor shouldn't be apart of the open world format. Its like finding laxatives for sell at Taco Bell, why are you here? this food is already gonna hurt my stomach, I don't need your help too Mister Laxatives.. my main point, that's redundant. But I'd be lying if I said there weren't really fun parts of this game too, because there's quite a few to be had, mainly in the games overall combat mechanics and the styles that it borrows from using titles like Nioh and even Fallen Dynasty, which of course brings back Team Ninja's tried and true focus on having parry-centric combat scenarios, which is always a blast to use once you're able to master it and reminds you that you must eventually go back and use these techniques to beat the snot out of Master Onion. Kick, Punch, its all in the mind? nah, more like try me you stinky onion, I'll parry you to the fiery pits of heck... heck I say.

 


''LETS FIGHTING LOVE''

 

Even though this game falls way too short incentivizing you to do most of the tasks scattered throughout the world, it does however deliver BIG in the combat department by delivering a huge thrill of getting the hang of and mastering of your parry attack against the large amount of foes you will indeed come across, which goes beyond just mindlessly hacking and slashing and smashing one button like you're me playing a Tekken game, but nope, instead if encourages you to strategically pick when to go on offense and went to take a more defensive mindset when utilizing your combat style. This mechanic is EXTREMELY fun and it may take quite a bit to master, much like it did with parry mechanics seen in games like Bloodborne. But once you get the hang of it, man does it become satisfying. However, uh oh.. the further you progress through the game, you do start noticing something... the devs are relying on this mechanic maybe a little TOO much and around mid game or so, the fun factor of the parry system does start weighing a bit thing and entering the realm of ''repetitive'', and you start to notice even more that there's a real lack of overall diversity to the combat itself and the challenges you face with it. Parrying works in nearly every instance in the game, so once you master it, alongside using various stances to help combat or other abilities, even if those spice up your life like a Spice Girl, it still leaves much to be desired, which completely sucks because the initial honeymoon high at the start of the game is an absolute joy and you WANT to feel that again the later you get into the game, however, much like my wish for a new Parappa The Rapper, it never comes. Thankfully however, due to staying historically accurate, which a lot of games SAY they will do and then end up giving you freaking giant enemy crabs and make you attack their weak points for massive damage(I'm looking at you Genji), because of historical authenticity, you get to go up against actual humans, each with their own fighting styles and techniques at their disposal that you have to strategically thwart. I've noticed this is a sticking point for people and have seen a lot of complaining about it, but why? the industry constantly whines about ''we need more historical accuracy'' but then whines more when you actually get it. Like for real, you cant be like be historically accurate and then praise zombies for showing up and thankfully Team Ninja sided with the side of all the sane people out there. Like me? oh no no no, I'm not sane at all, if I had a budget and my own studio, I'd just throw 300 million dollars into an open world samurai game that was set in the Hollow Earth that had you hunt down Kaiju like a Monster Hunter game, so no.. I'm not sane.

Parrying mechanics and open world aspects aside for a minute, visually this game goes from absolutely gorgeous and then looking like an early PS4 game, it really jumps around quite a bit. It can look quite amazing with grand lush landscapes that blends well with red leaves and you just stop and look at it like ''wow art direction is absolutely gorgeous'', because it genuinely is when it hits all the right marks, but... when it's not hitting on all notes, the game becomes slumped over thanks to low quality character models and the simplicity of the environmental textures, that again, look like it was for an early PS4 title and not a PS5 only title, even when using Graphic mode, it doesn't help much and even sometimes ADDING to the frustration because to try to make this game look as good as possible, it takes a hit in the performance area that slogs down the gameplay and fps from what I noticed on my end. Which completely dampers your mood. I can definitely see a patch fixing this no problem in the future, but I'm not reviewing it for its future, I'm reviewing it for its finished state. Currently this seems to be an issue I noticed a lot of developers are having in their games this generation, from this title, Dragons Dogma 2 and even Final Fantasy VII Rebirth all having performance issues pop up. I'm actually wondering if this is due to Unreal Engine 4, RE engine or engines similar being a tad bit outdated due to how fast games can be made with them. It might be time to upgrade so customers do not have to keep relying on future patches to HOPEFULLY fix issues with games they potentially pay $70+ for. At least its not a live game that gets dropped after 3 months though. I'm looking at you Square-Enix

 


''TAKE THE STABBY STAB, FIEND''

 

OVERALL:


At the end of the day Rise Of The Ronin misses the mark for me to be considered a 2024 banger overall, but that doesn't mean its a lost cause altogether. Rise Of The Ronin has a great open world, combat for first half of the game feeling responsive, slick and addicting with its stances and parrying, story that keeps things intriguing till the middle half chapters, etc etc. However, even with the addicting combat, it does get repetitive by not introducing more mechanics to the mix and relying on only one mechanic to carry it, quests that feel unfulfilling to complete due to the lack of rewards, story that feels rushed towards the last 5 chapters, unstable graphic fidelity that goes from an amazing looking game, to a subpar one with performance issues - there's just so much that goes wrong that it eclipses everything that's actually fun and good about the game for me personally and leaves the game with a feeling of not being able to find its own true identity of what type of game it wants to be. It does want to go open world, but at the same time, never commits fully to that concept, it also wants to be a Nioh game for its combat, but again, goes half-hazardly at that attempt to and tries to be a jack of all trades in EVERYTHING, instead of sticking to one or the other and making THAT its identity and riding it to success. A game that tries to please everyone, ends up pleasing a niche group instead of a wider audience. With this title coming in at $70, unless you're a hardcore Team Ninja fan or just no matter what LOVE authentic 19th century Japan related material, if you dont fall into this category, then I cannot recommend to pick up this game at a $70 price point and instead say it would be better waiting for a $40 price drop and then scooping up this adventure, I feel that's fair. So with all that having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says WAIT.



 





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