Rise Of The Ronin Review - Long-Term Investment
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Rise Of The Ronin Review - Long-Term Investment

If someone tells me a game takes several hours to "get good," my immediate feeling is that I will never play that game. Who has hours to waste waiting for the good part of anything when there are so many other games to play? But my opinion of Rise of the Ronin changed drastically over the course of my 50 hours of playtime--in the first five or 10 hours, I didn't really like it. By the end, I was planning to dive back in to clear out side quests and replay key moments to see how the story might change. It's a game that takes its time getting good, but once it finds its footing in samurai-sword duels and character-focused missions, your investment pays off.

The thing that turned the tide for me is the way Rise of the Ronin focuses on telling small, character-driven stories that weave together into a large, history-shaping narrative. The entire game is built on its "Bond" system, where doing side quests big and small builds your relationships with everyone, from the different provinces of Ronin's massive open-world Japan, to the many characters you meet throughout the course of the game.

Though the Bond system isn't particularly different from building up faction reputation, liberating map segments, or growing relationship stats with characters like you might see in other games, the focus on investing in all those things and people is illustrative of Team Ninja's approach to the entire game. Your personal connection to everything in Rise of the Ronin is what makes it work, and the reason it's worth it to power through its learning curve and less remarkable opening hours.

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