Team Ninja Doesn’t Get Enough Credit For Its Stories

Not everything has to follow the beaten path or meet a certain benchmark.

Story Highlights

  • Team Ninja games have stories that click more with history and mythology buffs.
  • The studio’s storytelling could be more effective but it still works well.
  • Despite Wo Long being the weakest entry, its story had enough flair to make it fun.

Team Ninja has been around for almost 3 decades; it has given us some exciting game franchises and helped shape the childhood of many with the Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden series. Even so, the studio has a rather bad reputation when it comes to story quality and storytelling technique. There’s valid criticism to be found here but at the same time, there are a ton of factors to consider as well.

I’m here to say that Team Ninja deserves a lot more credit for its stories and technique. Why? Because they’re fun and easy to digest.

Team Ninja Stories Resonate More With History & Mythology Fans

That said, I’m aware that some things are often not for everyone. Not because someone is actively gatekeeping but due to the product or premise failing to appeal to the masses. The last few titles Team Ninja has worked on focus on real-world history and mythological concepts. The studio takes it to the next level by adding a fictional spin on how the events play out, leading to the nation we know today. 

What even is the story?
byu/Gubtodi inNioh

As someone who thoroughly enjoys exploring history and the various mythologies in this world, I find Nioh, Wo Long, Rise of the Ronin, and other such titles extremely interesting. It’s a form of great entertainment for me. At the core, Team Ninja adds these elements to its games which checks all those initial boxes and reels me in. Another piece of this puzzle is also that I don’t take these stories seriously.

Does that mean I don’t care about them? No. It means that there are inherent restrictions in place due to the story being based on real events. You can only go so far with embellishments when dealing with real-life historical figures, events, beliefs, and ideologies. After all, who knows when you might stumble upon the hornet’s nest. Look at what happened with Rise of the Ronin due to a mere remark about Yoshida Shoin. That one’s a deep topic though so you can’t really help it.

Team Ninja games have a strong focus on history and mythology.
Team Ninja games have a strong focus on history and mythology.

Based on my perspective, I believe it’s a fair evaluation to say that Team Ninja titles mainly resonate with mythology and history enthusiasts as far as the story goes. When it comes to gameplay, you’ve got gamers absolutely blown away by the quality of combat in Nioh and Nioh 2. Now, if you have a history enjoyer who doesn’t vibe with the gameplay and vice versa, what do you think will happen?

They won’t like it. Does that mean they won’t play it? Well, if they click with the gameplay, it’s probably a win. But here’s where the problem begins.

Despite having an enjoyable story, Team Ninja fails to get that across. I believe it’s due to the inherent nature of historical and mythological plots along with the studio’s weird, not bad, method of storytelling.

Begin To Listen, Prepare To Read

Let’s face it, people love FromSoftware for its high-quality games and signature cryptic storytelling. Lore enthusiasts spend an unfathomable amount of time going through these rich worlds to find every description just so they can craft that perfect 12-hour-long lore video. So you get your popcorn ready, put out the lights, kick back and start watching.

I believe the storytelling game changes with Team Ninja. It’s designed in a way that you’re actively listening and reading more than you would in a FromSoftware title. I understand that it’s debatable but TN imparts the bulk of its games’ stories directly from the medium itself. That said, the balance is off by a huge margin since there’s a lot of text that needs to be read.

You have to read a lot in these games but history is interesting so I don't mind.
You have to read a lot in these games but history is interesting so I don’t mind.

Each mission starts and ends with a sizable panel of words. Bestiary entries and character files are continually updated with long paragraphs as you play through the game clear more missions, and fulfill other conditions. Armor and gear have detailed information regarding their lore that’s, more often than not, rooted in real-life history and mythology. Then you have the Guardian Spirits/Divine Beasts with their own information bits. On top of all that, you have loading screens that give even more details regarding the locales and whatnot.

In layman’s terms, there’s a lot of reading.

I honestly believe that it’s not a bad way to tell a story. Look at how popular Visual Novels or traditional JRPGs are. People aren’t exactly averse to reading; what matters here is the content and whether it’s captivating enough for the consumer. This is the part where you’ll say that Nioh and Wo Long had shallow stories. I’d argue that they had a pretty decent story that complimented the main focus—gameplay.

As far as telling a story based on real-life historical events goes, Team Ninja does a pretty solid job. How it handled Nioh, especially the sequel, was something unexpected and fully delivered. Tying Nioh 2 to the predecessor as both a prequel and sequel was genius.

Now we get to the game I consider to be the black sheep of this family.

Team Ninja Missed With Wo Long; It Was Still Coherent Than Most Plots

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, I don’t even know where to start. It’s such a good game but at the same time it just goes so many steps away from Nioh. When Team Ninja announced it, I believed it would most likely surpass its predecessor franchise. In hindsight, it was marred by an identity crisis that held it back from being great. Not to mention the abysmal state of its PC port.

Wo Long had an interesting setting despite being the weakest of entry out of recent Team Ninja titles.
Wo Long had an interesting setting despite being the weakest of entry out of recent Team Ninja titles.

All things aside, Wo Long had the most linear story out of all the recent Team Ninja titles. Was it a phenomenal work of art? No but it carried itself with enough consistency to keep you around from start to finish. I’ll admit, it was the weakest plot ever especially with what the devs could have done. After all, you have the Three Kingdoms era and the Chinese mythos at your disposal but I digress.

Anybody else enjoying Wo Long Fallen Dynasty?
byu/WyrmHero1944 inPS5

There’s not much I can say about Wo Long’s story other than it was coherent enough. It had a start, and a climax, and made sense all the way. The only thing it lacked in comparison to Nioh was impact.


Summing it all up, Team Ninja doesn’t write phenomenal, blockbuster-level stories but it delivers enough punch to go with its deep & layered gameplay. Unlike some studios that disregard the plot entirely, these people inject enough effort to make it an enjoyable time.

Here’s hoping Rise of the Ronin brings it all to the next level.

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Saad is a News writer at eXputer. With vast journalistic experience working for a multitude of websites, Saad currently reports to eXputer with the latest news and dishes out his opinions on a frequent basis. He's currently studying Game and Interactive Media Design, which has further increased his knowledge about the ins and outs of the industry.

Experience: 1+ Year || Covers News Stories on eXputer || Education: Bachelors in Media Science.

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