Rise of the Ronin – Review
Follow Genre: Open-world action game
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform: PS5
Tested on: PS5

Rise of the Ronin – Review

Site Score
Good: Rewarding challenging combat, Fun and interactive open-world
Bad: Story and character interactions aren't as engaging as they want to be
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VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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Team Ninja has already proven they are competent developers for making hard-as-nails action games inspired by the Dark Souls series. They sent players to the ancient lands of China in Wo Long Fallen Dynasty and the warring lands of feudal Japan in Nioh. Now they revisit the setting of the land of the rising sun during the turbulent times of Western invaders with one big twist on their gameplay formula: a fully explorable open world.


At the start of Rise of the Ronin, players will have the chance to create two characters who are part of a league of highly trained samurai. They are Blade Twins, partners for life, and always have each other’s back during dangerous missions. During one of these missions, they encounter foreign visitors, called the black ships, where they face an overwhelmingly strong opponent. One of the Blade Twins sacrifices themself to allow the player’s character to escape. This starts a journey of revenge where the surviving Twin seeks out their mysterious opponent, the Blue Demon, while also seeking the truth behind the end of their partner. But that is not all, since the whole of Japan encounters foreign visitors, splitting the opinions of the locals.

Having the story play out during this troubling time in Japan’s history was a great idea since it offers a unique setting with its own problems and developments. The narrative in itself is a pretty competent one, balancing the journey of revenge with the grander happenings in the land of the rising sun. But the story isn’t the biggest selling point of the game’s overarching narrative, since there is a big focus on character relations and choices that affect the outcomes of interactions. The game offers a bunch of side quests and dialogue options where the player gets to know the vast cast of characters. This is a very present mechanic in the game, so it is a good thing that it is fun to interact with both locals and foreign visitors during and in between missions. The only downside is that not every character is as memorable as we see in other games that feature such companion-heavy narratives. Luckily, there are definite standouts, like the charismatic revolver-wielding samurai or the enthusiastic inventor that hooks you up with excentric weapons. Still, some others fall into your typical loyal soldier roles with few interesting characteristics.


Rise of the Ronin is a beautiful game that fully utilizes the power of the PlayStation 5. The Japanese landscapes are a great place to travel through and offer a ton of variety with big cities and vast fields. These cities are especially unique, mixing classical Japanese buildings with more Western influences due to the turbulent times the game depicts. There are however some stiff animations during conversations, but nothing that takes you out of the experience.


Traveling through the grasslands of Japan has a certain serenity to it, which Rise of the Ronin captures perfectly. The soundtrack fits the game well and helps immerse players in the vast open world. From the people in the busy streets of the cities to the clanging of metal swords in combat, the audio design is top-notch and creates a consistent and fitting atmosphere.

The voice acting in the game, however, is a different story. There are definitely some great performances, but with such a big cast, they can’t all be a hit. The more bland performances don’t help the fact that some characters aren’t that memorable either.


Rise of the Ronin is an open-world action game that combines the challenging combat that Team Ninja is known for with character interactions and narrative choices. Players will get to explore the expansive map of Japan, which is filled with activities to partake in and NPCs to meet.

At the core of the Rise of the Ronin experience is the combat system, filled with special moves and challenging enemies. Players can choose between many different weapons, each with strengths and weaknesses. A key feature here is the different stances you can take, making some of them more effective against different enemies and giving you a reason to try out different combinations. The rewards for switching weapons diminish over time, however, since new stances can be unlocked for each weapon, changing the formula to just using your favorite and mastering that one’s stances. While the weapon you wield is very important, the most crucial part is your own skill. Observing enemies and countering their attacks is a must to survive in the harsh land of the rising sun. Timing this perfectly diminishes your opponent’s stamina and opens them up for a critical hit. Honing your skills and finding the weapon that suits you best is a joy to experience and makes the combat fun and challenging.

While players have become quite accustomed to such challenging combat, it is not often that we see it in an open-world setting. Combining this with some RPG elements where players can upgrade their character to take on harder locations on the map is an especially great choice to keep the feeling of progress throughout the dozens of hours Rise of the Ronin offers. The world is filled with your classical activities, like saving points to activate and enemy hideouts, which keep you exploring the map. All of these activities hit the perfect perimeters for keeping them entertaining throughout the entirety of the game, offering enough variety and making them not too long so they never feel like a chore. Making them even more worthwhile is the expansive rewards players get from interacting with the world, from experience to unlocking new skills or an expansive catalog of gear that you will be switching out constantly to become the best version of yourself.

While most gameplay mechanics in Rise of the Ronin are a joy to interact with, the big part where the game falls flat is when it comes to the companions. As we mentioned before, the game puts a big focus on characters and getting to know them, but most of the companions aren’t that interesting. This causes the actual interactions, like collecting gifts, visiting them at your hideouts, and completing their quests, not to leave that big of an impact. It is still a fun mechanic to interact with, but it just doesn’t have the same quality as we’ve seen in games like Persona or Mass Effect that put the same amount of focus on companions.


Rise of the Ronin remained under most players’ radars before its release, but it is in fact a great game to check out. The challenging combat is the best that Team Ninja delivered yet, and it all takes place in an open world that is filled with fun and engaging activities. Putting the action in a rather unexplored period of Japan’s history was a great choice, especially with the beautiful presentation. The story and interactions with companions, which is a major focus of the experience, sadly don’t come close to the quality of the rest of the game but are still good enough to make Rise of the Ronin a must-play for action enthusiasts.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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