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Team Ninja was famous for developing the popular Dead or Alive fighting game series as well as the Ninja Gaiden franchise in the early ‘00s. Recently, though, the Japanese developer has been making newer IPs for the PS4/PS5 generation.

Team Ninja has recently developed two excellent Nioh video games, as well as last year’s release of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. This year, the developer has made a newer IP called Rise of the Ronin, and this game is a PS5 exclusive.

Much like Nioh and Wo Long before it, Rise of the Ronin is an action RPG that shares some similarities to the Souls games. However, unlike the Souls games, Rise of the Ronin actually gives players three difficulty settings. If you think Souls games are too hard, you can give this game a try because there is an easy mode!

Rise of the Ronin Review | TheEffect.NetThat being said, this does not mean that Rise of the Ronin is an easy experience. Fighting the minions in this game is easier than Elden Ring, but I still had trouble fighting the many bosses that you will have to face. You really need to have a good understanding of the game’s mechanics if you want to come out on top.

Anyway, the game starts off with you creating your own character. There are several options for you to choose from and you can be either a male or female character. Even though you can choose a voice for your character, the main protagonist hardly speaks during cutscenes which I think is strange.

Story

The game is set in the 1850s in Japan and one of the biggest twists in the story is that your main character has a sibling called the Blade Twin. At the beginning of the game, you think your twin dies, but somehow, they come back and are a part of the bad guys’ team.

Rise of the Ronin Review | TheEffect.NetThere are a lot of twists and turns in the story because you meet a lot of characters, and you can choose to ally yourself with different factions, too. Japanese people aren’t the only enemies you meet because the West is also a part of this game as well.

Gameplay

In terms of gameplay, there is a lot to talk about in Rise of the Ronin. The combat is somewhat similar to Ghost of Tsushima because you can equip up to three different fighting stances based on the type of weapon that you are currently wielding.

Much like Ghost of Tsushima, you can swap your preferred fighting stance based on the type of enemy that you are facing to better counterattack them. The game gives you a blue arrow telling you which stance is best to tackle a particular enemy type. Each of the fighting stances has up to four martial arts skills, with two of them needing you to unlock them first.

Rise of the Ronin also has a levelling-up system that is divided up into four different categories. These categories are Strength, Dexterity, Charm, and Intelligence. I focused mostly on Strength and Dexterity for combat purposes and used the latter two to give me more medicine pills.

The combat is also pretty fast and satisfying like the Nioh series at times. When you damage an enemy enough, you can press a triangle to initiate a cool finishing blow on bad guys. Another thing I like about this game is that you can stealthily kill enemies, too, by approaching them from behind.

Rise of the Ronin Review | TheEffect.NetYou can also counter enemies using the ‘Counterspark’. This is vital to use during bosses as it gives you a good opening for you to attack. I had to use the Counterspark a lot of times during this game, and it’s one of the best features of this game’s combat system.

The only types of enemies you cannot kill so easily are formidable enemies and mandatory bosses. The normal enemies are quite easy to kill for the most part, but you will need to utilise your best blocking and attacking skills if you want to defeat enemies. Enemies can be pretty hard if you are not prepared enough!

Aside from weapons, Rise of the Ronin also gives your character two really cool gadgets that they can use, too. One of these gadgets is a grapple that you can use to climb onto higher platforms and buildings. The grapple can also be used during combat to sling some enemies around like a rubbish bag.

Probably my favourite gadget is the glider that you can use when you are perched on a higher platform. There was one mission where you could infiltrate a prison, and I felt like Batman when I glided in. You don’t have to use the glider all the time, but it can be fun when you traverse.

Speaking of traversal, another way that you can travel is via horse riding. Since the open world can be quite expansive, riding on a horse saves you time compared to sprinting on your own everywhere. Fast travel is also unlocked whenever you reach checkpoints called veiled edge banners.

Another fun game mechanic in Rise of the Ronin is the Bond System. If you talk and give people gifts or take them out on missions, you will level up their bond level. Doing this gives you access to more items and skill points.

Multiplayer

One of my favourite features of Rise of the Ronin is the fact that you don’t have to tackle missions all by yourself. If all players have PlayStation Plus, you can up to three other mates can co-op and take on missions together. If you don’t have any friends, you can thankfully choose up to two more AI allies to help you out, too. You can even swap to playing as different AI characters when you are playing solo.

Visuals

In terms of visuals, Rise of the Ronin doesn’t look as good as other open-world PS5 exclusives. I think Horizon Forbidden West is the best-looking open-world video game on the PS5 at the moment. Rise of the Ronin doesn’t look too bad, but it sometimes has visuals similar to those of a PS4 game.

Conclusion

All in all, Rise of the Ronin isn’t as good as the Nioh games, but I still enjoyed my time adventuring around 19th Century Japan. The stealth mechanics are impressive, and the combat is mostly fast and snappy. This game is worth picking up if you are into samurai-style action video games.

Rise of the Ronin Pricing & Availability

Rise of the Ronin is available now, exclusively on PlayStation 5, starting at €79.99 for the Standard Edition.

 

REVIEW: Rise of the Ronin
  • Story
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals
4

Summary

All in all, Rise of the Ronin isn’t as good as the Nioh games, but I still enjoyed my time adventuring around 19th Century Japan. The stealth mechanics are impressive, and the combat is mostly fast and snappy. This game is worth picking up if you are into samurai-style action video games.

John Reilly

John is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheEffect.Net. His favourite gaming series is Uncharted and his favourite film is Interstellar. He is also known to quote 'Father Ted' and Keith Lemon more than is normal. John@theeffect.net