Rise of The Ronin Review – PS5

Rise of The Ronin Review – PS5

Rise of the Ronin is set in the 1860’s in Japan, around the time when the country first approached international trade. It is a bit of a rocky time for the country, with political, social and many other issues coming from the end of one era. So begins your journey as a ronin, part of a pair of Twin Blades, two children who suffered an attack on their village, survived, and then were trained as partner assassins meant to fight together for the rest of their lives.

The game falls short in many ways, but what managed to keep me playing enough to be able to give you this review, was a great act of storytelling. Not through the main cutscenes, or even main story, but rather through side quests, meeting strangers, learning about them, fighting besides them, and then making decisions that tangibly changed the outcome of the game world. The very same person you fought next to, may be against you later in the game thanks to a decision you made.

The controls are an absolute disaster for a game that has been released exclusively on one console with one controller and the same four bumpers, a d-pad, triangle, circle, cross and square button as every other game to be released in 2024 and even over the lifetime of the PlayStation existing EVER.

Once you get a handle on controls (give it 10 hours), the combat isn’t too bad. It attempts to feel Souls-like, and some bosses were epic to take on. The slash of a Katana, a limb flying off, and even the clash of blades. It was one of the redeeming parts of the game. If you’re into Samurai, you’ll enjoy Rise of the Ronin, if only for the combat that feels true to the sword.

I think Rise of the Ronin could have been a much better game if it followed a more guided, linear, approach. The open world really felt empty, and there was nothing pulling me into it. It felt like an Assassin’s Creed but with no meat to the map. Even the collectibles weren’t enough to get me into exploring nooks and crannies. Also, in the same line as the early Assassin’s Creed games, missions got repetitive and very quickly, and very early on, the storytelling alone has to keep the player invested in experiencing the rest of the game.

While the game looks somewhat okay from afar, spending time in the world made me feel like I was playing a ten-year-old game. Hit a populated area? Noticeable frame drops. My game crashed right out to the dashboard twice. Gameplay doesn’t translate well into cutscenes, with preceding events not matching the story being told at the time.

A lot of this can be overlooked, I’m sure. I think that if you’re a fan of Team Ninja’s work, love Japanese culture and history, and have the patience of a saint, you could settle in to Rise of the Ronin. I however, could not.

Rise of the Ronin could easily be a 60-hour journey (for dedicated players and completionists) through what I found to be one of the most lackluster PS5 exclusives I have played to date.

Verdict: Not Recommended