Koei Tecmo’s Nioh: The Complete Edition is the latest surprise free product to drop on the Epic Games Store. The store was only scheduled to release one game on September 9, but once again went a step above what was expected. This is a common strategy for the store, as it employed the same technique multiple times during its Summer Sale with its free mystery games. While Nioh makes a slightly odd companion game for Sheltered, the other free title currently on the store, it is certainly a welcome one.
The Epic Games Store is no stranger to giving way multiple titles in a week. Throughout 2021, the store has released 2 and sometimes 3 free titles on a Thursday, making this year arguably its most generous yet (despite not having even hit the Christmas free games events the store tends to run). It also seems like Nioh‘s sudden appearance as a free game might link to its sequel being included in the recent September Savings event that the Epic Store is currently running.
What is Nioh?
Nioh is Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja’s answer to the Souls-like formula that leans a bit heavier into more dynamic action-RPG aesthetics and the thematic trappings of classic tales of Japanese samurai. In many ways, is somewhat similar to From Software’s 2019 title Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, but with less vertical mobility and a slightly less frenetic pace of combat. It also incorporates a healthy dose of actual Japanese lore and mythology, like the recent hints of accurate Norse myth in God of War: Ragnarok.
The game follows William Adams, a blond Irishman stranded in Japan while pursuing a magical stone called Amrita. Set in the 1600s, Nioh reimagines the English battle against the Spanish, with Queen Elizabeth I’s government demanding the retrieval of the mystical rock to defeat them. Nioh actually begins as one of few games set in London, as the player has to escape its iconic Tower prison after being locked away to keep Amrita a secret.
When Adams eventually makes his way to Japan, he finds himself beset by oni, terrible demons from Japanese mythology. Throughout the game, he teams up with historical Japanese figures like Hanzo Hattori, and eventually finds himself battling through the very real Battle of Sekigahara. Nioh pays a very dedicated homage to Japanese mythology and history while also depicting the fascinating tale of a Westerner becoming a samurai, which actually happened a fair amount in 1600s Japan.
Although Nioh‘s meticulous attention to historical detail is commendable, it’s not the real draw of the game. It takes the Soulsborne formula and iterates upon it nicely, feeling much more fluid and cinematic in its combat than other games like it. The slightly more accessible plot is also a refreshing break from the more obscure storytelling common among similar titles. Of course, that’s not to say its story is better than the Souls series, but it does provide a nice narrative palate cleanser.
What Does Nioh: The Complete Edition Include?
Epic Games Store customers are not just getting the vanilla version of the game released in 2017. Nioh: The Complete Edition packs a whole lot more than just the base game. Nioh was originally a PS4 exclusive title, and it served as a really attractive proposition for the console. Alongside Bloodborne’s exclusivity, the PlayStation 4 was a killer platform for Souls-like fans. In November of 2017, the Team Ninja slash-em-up appeared on Steam as a “Complete Edition.” This Complete Edition marked a 13 year development cycle for the game, which was initially announced by Koei-Tecmo back in 2004, and slated for a 2006 release. It took 11 years to release in its full form, and another four years later, it has come to the Epic Games Store for free.
Nioh: The Complete Edition also includes the three DLC expansions to the main game, which means that Epic Store customers can enjoy the comprehensive Nioh experience entirely free. Recently, a lot of the store’s free titles have been ambitious, but lower-profile indie titles (many of which were published by Team17), so seeing such a huge amount of content drop on the store for no cost was slightly unexpected. The three DLC included are Dragon of the North, Defiant Honor, and Bloodshed’s End. These DLC packs see the story of William continue across Japan, with a whole host of new abilities (and even a fancy helmet available exclusively for the Complete Edition).
Nioh 2 on Sale on The Epic Games Store
One of the reasons that the Epic Store released such a generous free offering could be tied to Nioh 2. The game is currently discounted 20% on the store as part of its September Savings deal. Both Nioh: The Complete Edition and Nioh 2 premiered on the Epic Store on September 9.
It is likely not a coincidence that the newer game is only discounted, whereas its predecessor is entirely free. Onboarding players with the first game to push sales of the slightly cheaper sequel is a smart move, and one that coheres neatly with Epic’s overall strategy with its free games. Free titles on the Epic Store are meant to encourage recurring users of the platform, and Nioh’s PVP mode and deep RPG story will likely keep players coming back to the store.
While Nioh 2 did not review as well as the first game in series, it still did relatively well on release, currently sitting at a solid 85% Metacritic rating. Nioh 2 – The Complete Editon supports 4K resolution, and uses that higher graphical fidelity to show off huge hordes of Yokai enemies and a fully unique, original protagonist. As well as a different protagonist, Nioh 2 also switches time frames, being set 100 years before the events of the first game. Both are fantastic experiences, and it’s well worth picking up the first game while it’s free on the Epic Store.
Nioh and Sheltered will be free on the Epic Games Store until September 16 2021.
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While Team Ninja’s Nioh 2 may have received critical and commercial acclaim, there’s little to no possibility of receiving a Nioh 3 anytime soon.
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