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Rise of the Ronin Review — Stellar Samurai Action

Check out our review of the sword-slashing samurai adventure of PS5, Rise of the Ronin.

Jeremy Proome

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Rise of the Ronin may initially appear to be another ‘Souls-like’ game with slower, more methodical combat and overbearing enemies, but looks can be deceiving. This is a more action-orientated, quick-moving adventure more akin to the likes of Ghost of Tsushima or God of War, albeit with a Japanese fantasy twist.

Set during the 19th century Edo period in Japan where the West has begun creeping in and threatening the existence of traditional Japanese warriors, Rise of the Ronin leans heavily on its story, and therefore makes gameplay notably accessible despite having some tricky combat mechanics. Again, this isn’t a ‘try-and-die’ gameplay loop, but one that delivers a more traditional design where you’ll find tough enemies, but they’re anything but unbeatable.

The game itself features a lot of RPG mechanics, and in that vain, there are moments in the story where you can make story-altering decisions (such as which faction to side with), but generally, you’ll follow structured missions across the admittedly large and interesting open-world, which you’ll see most of throughout the three or so dozen hours of game time.

The combat will feel familiar to those who’ve played any action game in recent years, but there is a tactical element with its parrying system, allowing you to knock your enemies off balance before dealing damage, along with deflecting incoming projectiles. Getting the timing right of this is the challenge, but an incredibly satisfying mechanic that can swing the fight in your favour if you get your rhythm right.

There are a lot of weapons that mix up the feel of combat too, with everything from short swords to heavier double-handed weapons on offer. If there is any critique, it’s that the game features arguably too many weapons with some being minuscule incremental upgrades of ones you already have. We’re all for variety, but sometimes too much of a good thing can hamper the experience, as you spend way more time scanning your inventory and discarding and swapping out swords than you really should.

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Despite the superfluous weapons and loot, the game itself has a great flow to it, with most missions being high-octane, exciting affairs that keep the action cranked up to 11. The world itself is great too, with a lot of variety in terms of scenery, and a lot of interesting things and side missions to distract you — if you’re into that sort of thing.

The presentation and visuals are slick too, and while it won’t compete with the most shiny of games out there, it moves at an incredible speed and offers a faster, more action-packed RPG experience that fans who like the genre but struggle with the slow pacing will appreciate.

Rise of the Ronin is available on PS5.

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