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Nioh: Bloodshed's End
Score: 90%
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment America
Developer: Team Ninja
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/RPG/Online

If the third time isn’t the charm, then the status quo is good enough for me. Not a sentiment I commonly apply to most uses of that old axiom, but certainly one that I will apply to Nioh. Team Ninja’s glorious return to form has been a pleasure to behold over this last year; its return to mercilessly challenging combat design and its expansion into uncharted waters is more than enough proof that they’re back. I was scared for a time; I thought Dead or Alive was the only thing they remembered how to make anymore, and Ninja Gaiden was dying a slow, awkward death. Not so, it would seem. Playing Nioh was like watching a huge bolt of lightning strike a dearly departed friend; a bolt of lightning that not only reanimated said friend, but turned him into a superhero. It’s been great.

As far as the downloadable content cycle is concerned, Nioh is now three for three. None of the expansions quite rise to the excellence of the core game, but they are absolutely worth playing, especially if you’re a huge fan of that core game. While it’s true that the added content can be described as "more Nioh," that in and of itself is by no means a bad thing. It may dictate whether or not you consider it worthwhile. For my part, I do. Nioh: Bloodshed’s End is a fine way to close out an excellent game’s lifecycle.

Sayonara, Sengoku:
What did you think was going to happen? Defiant Honor closed on an uneasy truce between Toyotomi Hideyori and Tokugawa Ieyasu, effectively ending the Siege of Osaka. However, bitter feelings die hard, and the carnage inflicted on both sides has resulted in the castle being largely unfit for habitation. And since there was a clearly defeated party involved in this campaign, it’s pretty clear that the victors get the better quarters. I’d say good luck with that, but Nioh: Bloodshed’s End’s opening act doesn’t really give you the chance to hold your breath as an uprising imminently erupts from this previously defused situation.

Team Ninja have stated that this particular chapter is both the end of the Sengoku era and the journey’s end for protagonist/historical figure William Adams. I didn’t particularly care much about Nioh’s story; whether it was the culture shock or the fact that the gameplay overshadowed nearly every other facet of the game’s being, I can’t say. What I can attest to is that Bloodshed’s End follows the standard to which the other Nioh expansions hewed closely. There are some reskins, some diversification of tactics, and perhaps the best, most intense boss battles the game has seen yet. All things you want from a Nioh expansion, done well enough to feel fresh.

Final Extras:
Nioh: Bloodshed’s End introduces a couple of big new things: some requisite, others not so much, but all welcome ones. I’ll start with the big one. Remember Mission Mode from Ninja Gaiden Sigma? Where all the ancillary gameplay is shunted to the site and the combat is thrust to the forefront in all its brutally challenging glory? Well The Abyss is that for Nioh. It’s a hell of an extra that gives players the opportunity to cut to the quick when they’re feeling perhaps a bit less adventurous and a bit more bloodthirsty.

If you’re one of those insane people who has conquered the game all the way through the "Way of the Wise" difficulty level and you want more pain, Team Ninja has you covered. If it wasn’t completely obvious already that Bloodshed’s End is Nioh’s last hurrah, the finality associated with "Way of the Nioh" should serve as the most potent reminder. No, I didn’t dabble in it, by the way; while I love this game and appreciate a good challenge, suffering just isn’t my jam. The option is nice, though!

At the Tokyo Game Show, it was announced that Nioh would be receiving an appropriately-dubbed "Complete Edition." Theoretically, this news kind of throws a stick into my spokes, as I was anticipating wrapping our Nioh coverage with a final evaluation of the game’s Season Pass. However, considering that this version is, as of now, only releasing in Japan, I feel confident that I can deliver what I intended in the first place.

Is Nioh’s Season Pass worth it? Well, if you like Nioh and want more of it, I would say that the answer is a resounding yes. It’s the difference between purchasing each expansion individually for ten dollars and saving five bucks for getting them all for once, so all told, it’s neither a bad deal nor an example of gouging. By itself, Nioh: Bloodshed’s End is probably my personal favorite of the three, thanks to its ample willingness to shake things up a bit with its boss fights. But altogether, it’s been a wild ride, and one that I’m glad to have taken.

Welcome back, Team Ninja. We’ve missed you.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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