Rise of the Ronin could have been so much more 

With Shogun releasing on television and a rumored Assassin Creed set in Japan on the horizon, it feels like the perfect timing for Team Ninja to come out of the shadows with an open-world game set in the middle of the 19th century’s Japan with the combat and fluidity they are known for. While this may sound great on paper, it sadly also stays on paper. 

A story written by an AI?

The story of Rise of the Ronin follows a Twin Blade warrior who is in search of his or her twin warrior, and while searching you are dragged into a semi-historical story of how modern Japan came to be, filled to the brim with famous people from the era. The writing in Rise of the Ronin is so bad at times I ended up laughing at it and not with it. The dialogue in this game is a joke at its best and its character portrayal is bland at its best. Combine the writing with characters, especially your character, which makes Bethesda’s characters look lively and alive, and you have cutscenes I start using my phone in. Even if story and writing haven’t been Team Ninja’s focus in any game really, Rise of the Ronin brings a new low on this front. If you want to experience this era, its living legends, and the history of Japan, Like a Dragon: Isshin does it a lot better. 

Best combat in any open-world game

Luckily the combat heightened my experience with Rise of the Ronin by a lot. The game runs smoothly, making it easy to have a good flow in combat with attacks, blocks, and parrying. Parrying at the right moment is crucial for killing enemies, especially bosses. The parrying system works similarly to that of Sekiro, and here is a clear and red indicator on the heavy attacks when to party them and after a few parries, the enemy will let his guard down making it possible for you to do a devastating attack. If you enjoyed the gameplay in Sekiro or Team Ninja’s own Wo Long Fallen Dynasty, but thought it was a bit hard in those games, the combat here will be perfect for you, even if those two are way better and now cheaper games than this.

Repetitive missions 

Even if the combat is great in Rise of the Ronin, it doesn’t make its repetitive and boring missions that much more fun. Being an open-world game, it comes with many things to collect, but as usual in these games, it is boring to collect and there is almost no reward for doing so. The game also comes with three types of missions: Story, side stories called Bonds, and smaller events happening all over the map. During your journey, you will meet way too many characters to remember any of them by the end of the game. But the bond mission is there to help them hem with stuff, almost inclusively ending with killing a few enemies in an area with a bigger enemy in the end, which is the same with the game’s main mission, making room for almost no variety in the missions. 

Team Ninjas DNA

It is easy to see the DNA from other Team Ninja games in Rise of the Ronin where of course the combat is the most noticeable. Starting a mission will send you to a start screen where you can choose allies from the game or even play with other players and then the mission takes place in a more isolated area, which feels very much like both Wo Long and the Nioh games. And I mostly wonder if Rise of the Ronin wouldn’t have benefited from not being open world and instead choosing missions from a base of operation and focusing on the missions and being able to replay them on harder difficulty with better loot. And the loot is another thing that reminds me a lot of the first Nioh, where you get loot from every enemy and feel completely overwhelmed with all the stuff I had a hard time sorting through, I thought they would have learned by now. 

Graphics from PlayStation 4

I wish I didn’t have more negative things to say about Rise of the Ronin since I wanted to like this game, but the game’s graphics is something we shouldn’t see in an AAA game with a heavy price tag next to it. The game at best looks like a game from the last generation even if the trees and bushes are a little too cubic even for a PlayStation 4. The world itself is also very empty and without any life in the streets. I most often find myself running through empty streets with copy-pasted buildings next to each other. Once again I ask myself: Why did they have to do an open-world game? 


Three things are missing for every promise made by Rise of the Ronin. Team Ninja builds upon their already great combat, making it more accessible but still as fun. But the move to the open world makes everything else, from mission design, characters, story, graphics, and more, something they couldn’t do. If they made this game a more linear experience, all these things could have been better. But for now, save your money and put your hopes in the Assassin’s Creeds’ upcoming Japan game instead.

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