Rise of the Ronin: Team Ninja in its own style

The story takes us to 19th century Japan, right after its borders opened to the rest of the world. The duo of twins (according to the sword), will go through many situations of this turbulent period, both diplomatic and political

by Sededin Dedovic
Rise of the Ronin: Team Ninja in its own style
© PlayStation / Youtube channel

Rise of the Ronin, the latest offering from acclaimed developer Team Ninja, carves its way through the crowded landscape of action RPGs. While it bears the hallmarks of inspiration from popular titles, it creates its own identity with a focus on fast-paced, brutal combat and a sprawling narrative set at a pivotal moment in Japanese history.

The game begins in 19th century Japan, a period of tremendous change as the nation grapples with its newfound openness to the West. You take on the role of a twin swordsman who navigates this turbulent era, wielding his blade amid political and diplomatic upheavals.

The narrative itself isn't particularly groundbreaking, but the characters you meet along the way elevate the experience. Their stories and personalities leave a lasting impression.

Rise of the Ronin Gameplay© MKIceAndFire / Youtube channel

The impression is weakened by the fact that the protagonist has no personality and is completely mute.

There are moments when the player is allowed to choose a response, but interactions with other characters are mostly reduced to their monologues, while your character nods incoherently. The system is a bit inconsistent in relation to the main story, but still a welcome layer of gameplay where character interactions are ultimately potentially very rewarding.

Where Rise of the Ronin really shines is in its combat system. Team Ninja's expertise is on full display here. Blocking, dodging and countering enemy attacks with lightning-fast precision is a joy for any fan of frenetic action.

A diverse selection of weapons and plenty of special moves further enhance the combat experience. However, the control scheme takes some getting used to, with commands spread awkwardly around the controller.

Rise of the Ronin Gameplay© MKIceAndFire / Youtube channel

It is important to mention that at the beginning of the game you choose a class, but it is a rather trivial choice because the game does not limit you in terms of using specific equipment and weapons.

There you have at your disposal various swords, katanas, spears, as well as long-range options in terms of bows and arrows, as well as rifles and pistols. The equipment and weapon system is almost mirrored from Nioh in that there are literally tons of different types of all of the above divided into categories, rarities and with specific stats.

Rise of the Ronin Gameplay© MKIceAndFire / Youtube channel

Combat is mechanically relatively fast and fluid and it all boils down to the well-known dance of executing, blocking, dodging and deflecting attacks.

As in previous Team Ninja or other soulslike games, all of the above uses stamina as the main resource. If you use it up to the end, your character is left defenseless exposed to attack, and if you use it on an enemy, you open a window to perform a devastating attack that will take a large chunk of their health or kill them instantly.

The overall aesthetic evokes classic samurai films, with a healthy dose of brutality seen in Team Ninja's Ninja Gaiden series. Players familiar with these genres will find themselves right at home. However, the presentation is a bit inconsistent.

Stunning visuals in certain areas give way to moments that feel dated compared to newer titles.

Rise of the Ronin Gameplay© MKIceAndFire / Youtube channel

From activities there are main missions that push the narrative and a whole bunch of side missions and activities to do in each of the regions.

Some of them are quite interesting, especially when they are related to prominent secondary characters, while the rest are more or less classic activities of games of this type. Most of them ultimately come down to freeing bases, or fighting, with a few exceptions like searching for cats and equipment

Rise of the Ronin Gameplay© MKIceAndFire / Youtube channel

The open world design unfortunately falls victim to some familiar pitfalls.

It lacks the intrigue and innovation of modern open world games. The map is cluttered with locations that quickly lose their appeal, becoming monotonous chores instead of interesting. Fortunately, story-related side missions offer a welcome reprieve.

Although occasionally repetitive, they provide additional context and depth to the narrative, and the rewards encourage exploration. The real strength of Rise of the Ronin lies in its boss fights and character interactions.

These encounters, often resolved through intense sword duels, embody the spirit of the samurai philosophy – patience, understanding and strategic mastery. Learning your opponent's moves and formulating a plan to emerge victorious are the highlights of the experience.

These moments elevate even the more mundane aspects of the game.
While it may not reach the heights of some critically acclaimed titles in the genre (which you should definitely play before diving into Rise of the Ronin), this game offers a solid 40+ hour experience.