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"Rise of the Ronin" review released on the culmination of the ninja group

With two Nioh movies and Crouching Dragon, Team NINJA’s image in the hearts of players has been largely solidified: hardcore action system and combat settings, relatively weak plot story combined with independent box-style levels, seem to have become the “standard configuration” of Team NINJA’s works.

But it is precisely the existence of these inherent impressions that makes the game “Rise of the Ronin” even more special. The open world setting alone can already reflect the huge differences between it and the previous works, and Team NINJA has not hidden its confidence in this work: hoping to give it the iconic combat style of Team NINJA.

The threshold has been lowered, but it is still hardcore

Same as my concept of “Rise of the Ronin” in the early reviews – simplicity is the most impressive feature that impressed me at the beginning.

The story of “Rise of the Ronin” is set against the backdrop of the Meiji Restoration. While the East and the West collide and cultural changes occur, the struggle between the shogunate and the Shinzo also unfolds. Unlike other Ronins, the protagonist, as a “hidden sword”, is a weapon specially trained for two people to carry out missions. After being separated from your partner during the mission, you, who clearly knows that the other party is still alive by fate, embark on a journey to find your partner, and are also involved in this historical change…

Although you have lost your partner as a “hidden knife”, you can fight with other allies you meet on the road in the mission. Although the weapons and schools of these characters are relatively fixed, with the substitution mechanism, it means that you will no longer be at the mercy of others when you are empty or exhausted, but can switch to another character to join the battle.

At the same time, this mechanism can also be used to develop new strategies: for example, taking the initiative to attack the boss with a long performance time, and then switching roles to take the opportunity to output crazy, because even if a character collapses due to exhaustion, they can consume a medicine to save them, and then return to battle.

On this basis, “Rise of the Ronin” also “unusually” provides three difficulty options, which can be adjusted at any time during the game. In addition, in the non-linear ARPG of “Rise of the Ronin”, you can easily wander around the open world, first do a bunch of Side Mission upgrades, and then rely on the huge advantage of level and equipment to crush the enemies in the main storyline.

The appearance of this series of factors has greatly lowered the threshold for beginners of “Rise of the Ronin” compared to previous works such as “Nioh” by Team NINJA, allowing those who are not good at action games to have the opportunity to feel its charm and appreciate the magnificent history of the late Edo period.

However, it should be noted that although its “simplicity” and the decrease in the threshold for getting started are real, it does not mean that “Rise of the Ronin” has lost the iconic hardcore combat of Team NINJA in the past. On the contrary, its operational limit has actually increased significantly compared to the past.

For example, the most typical example is “Rise of the Ronin”, which has a weapon style similar to the “top, middle, and bottom” style in the “Nioh” series. The normal attack modules and martial arts that can be used in each style are almost completely different. When playing this game, you can also obtain new styles or improve the transfer level of a certain style by defeating wanted criminals and deepening karma with corresponding characters, thereby unlocking more martial arts.

The appearance of “Stone Fire” makes the battle of “Rise of the Ronin” as refreshing as forging iron. When released in peacetime, Stone Fire is a two-stage upward attack with high damage and great post-shock, but if used according to the enemy’s attack rhythm, Stone Fire can rebound their attack, causing a certain reduction in energy while making them appear more rigid. When the enemy’s energy is zero, it can be timely executed.

However, the energy tactic is not only applicable to the enemy, but also to the protagonist himself. Actions such as attacks, martial arts, and stone fire will consume varying amounts of energy. Once the energy is exhausted, it will be impossible to take action until the energy is fully restored, and thus fall into the embarrassing situation of “unable to fight, unable to run”.

Of course, in addition to waiting for energy to recover while walking, “Rise of the Ronin” also has a “Flash Blade” system similar to that of Can Xin. Attacking enemies in battle will accumulate blood slots, and pressing R1 during the attack interval can shake off the blood on the main weapon and restore energy. Compared with Can Xin, which can be used without restrictions, the timing of using Flash Blade is more limited, but because of this, you can completely consume half of your energy to launch a fierce attack at once. When the blood slots are full, you can use Flash Blade to restore energy without frequently interrupting your attack rhythm.

In addition, the restraint between weapon schools also plays a huge role in this work. Depending on the type of weapon used by the enemy, it will show at the end of their health bar whether your current school is advantageous or disadvantageous compared to the opponent. When there is an advantage, the benefits of the stone fire bomb counter-attack will become greater.

The stone fire, which already has a lot of room for operation, combined with the connecting action of switching weapons “Purple Electricity” and the switching of weapon schools “Gale Wind”, should easily imagine a thrilling and enjoyable battle: relying on continuous attacks and martial arts to suppress, using stone fire to counterattack when the enemy counterattacks, and also using Gale Wind or Purple Electricity at the right time, switching schools or weapons to change one’s combat style to ensure advantage.

The open world provides a good stage for storytelling

If “Ronin Rise” is excellent in terms of combat, it is based on “Nioh” and “Wolong” that we can predict, then the setting of the open world has become a big uncertainty in the hearts of players.

To be honest, in terms of exploring the open world, the overall performance of “Rise of the Ronin” can only be considered mediocre. “Rise of the Ronin” did not choose the traditional open world that is more common, where a device is placed in each area to unlock various contents of that area. Instead, it established corresponding causes and conditions for each region and character.

Players completing various tasks and events in the area will increase their karmic level. As the level increases, all corresponding content in this area will also be marked on the map, such as flags, inherent “wanted criminals”, and Treasure boxes.

Unfortunately, there are relatively few types of emergency missions, and there are only a few in total, such as competing with people, competing with a group of people, and defeating bandits who block the road. This also makes the exploration and combat of the entire open world not as fun as imagined. Instead of these repetitive combat missions, I am more willing to catch a few cats that serve as collection elements in “Rise of the Ronin”…

But looking at it from another perspective, this setting is actually reasonable, because the biggest difference between “Rise of the Ronin” and games like ” Nioh ” is not in the combat or open world setting, but in its “realism”. Without factors such as chaos, monsters, and gods, it is difficult to design outstanding encounters or emergencies.

It is precisely this feature of realism that allows “Rise of the Ronin” to make up for the slightly weak narrative part of Team NINJA in previous works, and instead presents the history of the Meiji Restoration in a game format after artistic processing, and even the player’s own choices can have a certain impact on history.

The following content contains spoilers

In the story of “Rise of the Ronin”, although the companions around the protagonist are constantly changing, and the factions to which various forces belong will also change , the story itself always revolves around the two major forces of the Sakura faction and the Rise of the Ronin faction. At the same time, a considerable part of the true events in history have been replicated: because a large number of anti-barbarian heroes do not want Japan to sign a trade treaty with a foreign country, they believe that this will lead to the fall of Japan, and then the protagonist and ronin from Satsuma and other domains ambush the Daio Itachi who enters the court outside the Sakurada gate.

At this time, there will also be a major choice: kill it or let it go, which will also have a certain impact on the subsequent development. After careful consideration, I chose to follow the reality and kill it, and replicated the “Sakuragami Incident” in history in the game.

So, if you are a little more “rebellious” than me, you might as well follow your curiosity and give it a try. Maybe you can create a different historical storyline in “The Rise of the Ronin”.

Another unique setting of the open world of “Rise of the Ronin” is that in order to better match the time corresponding to the main plot, it is not only divided into three independent large maps of Yokohama, Edo, and Kyoto, but also has two different versions of the Edo region based on time differences. Even if you are busy with the main plot at the beginning and advance the story to the end early, you can still go back to the past period and place through “Soul Record”, complete the previously ignored tasks, and meet the characters you are interested in.

While ensuring the rhythm of the main storyline, it also takes into account open-world gameplay, avoiding the dilemma of “no turning back” like linear games. This design is undoubtedly a blessing for players like me who are keen on collecting everything – after all, I really don’t have the energy to play the second playthrough.

Diverse genres and gameplay

Although the tasks and other content in the open world are relatively conventional and seem less diverse and free, the diverse gameplay and equipment elements of “Rise of the Ronin” provide completely different ways for different players to pass the game.

Corresponding to this is the dual experience bar design of “Rise of the Ronin”. The former corresponds to the character level and provides corresponding basic numerical upgrades, while the latter provides “ability points” that can unlock skills in four different genres or skill trees. In addition, there are exclusive “rare ability points” for the four genres of bravery and skills, which can be used to unlock some powerful skills of this genre.

This design allows players to have completely different playstyles even at the same level in the early and middle stages of the game (after all, they become bucket characters in the later stages). The bonus points are concentrated in the “heroic” genre, so the main weapon attack power is naturally higher, and the frontal combat moves are more abundant, which is also suitable for action enthusiasts who are keen on frontal combat.

Similarly, if you, like me, consider yourself a bad player in action games, or simply enjoy the pleasure of “assassination”, then you can invest most of your points in the “skill” genre. After learning the skills of rush assassination and continuous assassination, you will have a qualitative change – you can directly charge towards a group of enemies, assassinate and execute them one by one, instead of executing one and then fighting the remaining group of people head-on like in other stealth games.

In addition to various assassinations and battles, “Rise of the Ronin” also takes into account the “brushes” who can play for hundreds of hours in “Nioh”. In addition to defense values, each piece of equipment also has entry bonuses or suit effects. The entries of different equipment can be transferred through “causal inheritance” to piece together perfect equipment.

At the same time, after completing the first playthrough, the “Dark Night” difficulty will also be unlocked in the “Soul Record”, which will also provide new “top-notch” equipment – I think this should be considered paradise for those brush players, right?


The battle system is refreshing and hardcore enough to lower the entry threshold while increasing the upper limit of operation. It can be said that “Rise of the Ronin” has learned from the strengths of Team NINJA’s works in all aspects. While its own quality is excellent, it also gives more action-oriented players the opportunity to experience its charm. Although the new open world does not have extremely eye-catching features, it is more than enough as a seasoning for advancing the main storyline and exciting battles.

The only thing that makes me want to complain is probably the visuals of “Rise of the Ronin”. Although the overall visuals have become much brighter and are no longer black and red throughout, there are still classic scenes in some maps that make people “blind”, such as abandoned mines and burning courtyards.

Besides this, I can’t find any other factors that affect my gaming experience.

Overall, “Rise of the Ronin” is like a product of the combination of “Nioh”, “Crouching Dragon”, and even “Ghost of Tsushima”, but the experience in combat and other aspects is different from any of the above works. After releasing three “life-threatening games” in a row, the appearance of “Rise of the Ronin” undoubtedly means that Team NINJA has taken a very important and successful step forward.

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