Rise of the Ronin review: Finally, an accessible Team Ninja game!

If you are a fan of fast-paced action games, chances are you enjoy games like Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden, Nioh, Sekiro and more! Two of the aforementioned franchises are made by Team Ninja – Ninja Gaiden and Nioh. As much as I enjoy a tough challenge in games, I accepted defeat before the credits rolled on Team Ninja’s games. This is why I am happy to share that Rise of the Ronin adds different difficulties to choose from. While the ‘Easy’ difficulty can get quite easy even for my ageing reflexes, it still makes the game accessible to a larger audience which is a good thing as Rise of the Ronin is a fun game, even if it has its shortcomings.


Rise of the Ronin takes place in the mid-1800s during the Bakumatsu era when Western influences started spreading in Japan. You are a Ronin who is out to get revenge and the plot has its share of twists and turns throughout. You start with a companion character who is your blade twin and the lore of the game says that a Ronin is a formidable warrior but with a “Blade Twin” he/she is unstoppable! And that’s one of the unique aspects of the game. While the story has its aha moments, it doesn’t have the same depth we have seen in other Playstation first-party games and that’s ok as what’s on offer is a fun ride.


Rise of the Ronin is a Team Ninja game at its heart with elements of Sekiro thrown into the mix along with some of the standard tropes of Soulsborne games – the action is fast, enemies are brutal and death leads you to the nearest bonfire called “Veiled Edge Banners”.

At its core, the game is a hack-and-slash and you have many weapons at your disposal. This includes a katana, dual katans, western swords, spears, long swords and many more. Each weapon comes with multiple stances and you can switch them on the fly based on which strategy works best against the enemies you are facing. It isn’t as simple as changing stances in Ghost of Tsushima as this requires a little more quick thinking on your feet and faster judgement on the perfect stance + weapon that can deal the right blow.

The cherry on the cake is that you have your Blade Twin with you for several missions and without spoiling too much I can tell you that you will have different companions on different missions and can switch to them to exploit their strengths in combat. If you play online, you can team up with up to 2 friends for these missions, but the game isn’t a full co-op game as there are a lot of missions you will do alone. So the online co-op with up to 2 more friends is more like a drop-in – drop-out. For my playthrough, I mostly stuck to playing the game alone.

You also have access to secondary weapons from Shuriken to a rifle and even a bow and arrow which can be pretty helpful if you want to take the stealth route for as long as possible or dispatch foes before they get too close. You also have a grappling rope that will swing you closer to enemies or help in traversal and is a lot like the rope in Sekro and a little like Batman’s grappling gun in the Arkham Series.

The depth of gameplay is as good as Ninja Gaiden and Nioh games with some of the changes for the better. You can parry your enemy’s attacks to get an opening to do a lot of damage. You need to deplete your enemy’s stamina before you can get a killing blow while keeping an eye on your stamina, and so on.

Travelling the world is fun as you have a horse at your disposal and also get access to a glider relatively early that lets you swoop across the map like Ezio in Assassins Creed 2. Some fun minigames involving the glider also work as a nice distraction.

The only downside to the world is that it sticks to the tried and tested tropes plaguing open-world games. Don’t get me wrong, I love a map populated with points of interest and a vast number of things to do. But Rise of the Ronin feels more like Far Cry and Assassins Creen rather than Ghost of Tsushima or God of War Ragnarok when it comes to the open world.

Graphics and Sound

There is a performance mode, a graphics mode and a Ray-tracing mode and while I played the game on the performance mode, there was enough frame rate stuttering for me to notice. While we will wait for the awesome team at Digital Foundry to give their performance verdict, I can tell you that the game is fun, and fast-paced with some stutters thrown into the mix. A large part of the open world and character design looks like it’s from the PS4 era and the same can be said about the pop-in and small graphical glitches here and there. Having said that, the combat animations look sublime with decent particle effects when fire and environmental hazards are thrown into the mix.

The swish and thuds of your swords clashing has a nice ring to it and the firearms have a nice bang. When you give the enemy a final blow it has a defining swish to it. The background score is nice as well lending tunes that are apt for the era.

The voice acting in the game isn’t the best. I played it in English voice over and just for comparison, Ghost of Tsushima had much better voice acting. It is however passable in the grand scheme of things.


Overall Rise of the Ronin is a fun adventure, especially for those that want to dip their toes in a Soulsborne game and are too afraid of the difficulty. The easy mode in the game makes it accessible. The multiplayer component will be a hit or miss for you based on your preference. For me, I enjoyed the game better alone. While some of the open-world activities and visuals are from the PS4 era, the fast-paced combat and diverse weapons kept me hooked to see the main quest through.

Editor’s Score: 7.5/10


Accessible Soulsborne game
Fast-paced combat
Co-op for up to 3 players
Some traversal elements are fun


Some visual elements look like the PS4 era
Average voice acting

More Info:

Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PS5
Reviewed on: PS5

We played a review copy of Rise of the Ronin provided by Sony