Born half human, half Yokai (Japanese Demon/spirit/monster), the protagonist in Nioh 2 is taken on a journey through feudal Japan. Specifically you are in the Sengoku period, where a number of warring states vie for control of the country. You and your companions lend your support to numerous factions. And through a combination of your Yokai strength and the power of the corrupting spirit stones you are able to progress where others couldn’t. However, forces beyond your knowledge are influencing your enemies….and your allies. Forces that may know more about the murder of your parents.
This content was reviewed playing a purchased copy.
Setting & Music
Team Ninja Studio‘s Nioh 2, is set out in a series of selectable missions in a number of different areas. The level design on each main mission is very good; containing shortcuts, traps, and secret items to encounter as you progress. I found myself seeing an item on a roof and trying to work out how to get there. Before promptly getting shot by a well concealed enemy. Although that can be frustrating at times, it sticks to the Dark Souls formula of it all being avoidable if you’re cautious. The side missions take the levels from the main and add little twists. They’ll block off a certain path, or put you in in reverse. So you’ll be familiar with the level, but not overly so.
Although the level designs are very good, the settings themselves are limited. This is a game set in feudal Japan after all, not a fantasy location. Because of that you won’t have massive deserts next to rainforests or the like. You will have forested areas, urban areas, and mountainous areas, sometimes in combination. All of them felt a little drab however, with nothing particularly standing out. And each level tended to feel very similar because of this.
The music did as intended and provided some background for your journey. There were a few more memorable tunes, and nothing was jarringly out of place. But I won’t be seeking them out after playing like some others.
Did you like Nioh? If yes, then you will like Nioh 2. I, on the other hand, did not get along with Nioh originally, and went into Nioh 2 with a certain amount of apprehension. However, it turns out, the gameplay is actually really good. You have a choice of eleven different weapon types, and each type has its own stance; Low, Mid or High. The game is designed so you can easily flow between these stances depending on your enemy. And each has it’s own upgrade tree for each weapon. I however found a stance and a moveset that I liked, and stuck with it.
This is where my first criticism comes in. Once you’d started with a weapon, there was no real incentive to try and change things up. With something like Dark Souls, you get a new weapon, you want to try it out. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll probably go back to your main, but you had a little play around. The loot system in Nioh 2 gives different tiers of quality to each weapon with some minor stat boosts. But the moves don’t change and each type is available at the start of the game. So ultimately apart from a higher level of the weapon you’re using, you won’t really care.
The loot system keeps new weapons coming thick and fast. But its hard to get excited for a new Switchglaive when it’ll do the same as your current one, but with a bit more stamina recovery.
One welcome new addition is that of the Burst Counter. This is a high risk high reward move of countering an oppenent’s best moves. You miss time it, you take a hefty chunk of damage, you hit it well, and you have an opening. A burst counter comes in three forms; Brute, Phantom and Feral. However, like the weapon types, I found myself using the first one I chose and sticking with it, as there was no incentive to swap.
Being half Yokai, you can take the moveset of some previously defeated enemies and use it for the cost of anima. You build up anima from hitting an opponent and it provides a welcome source of damage and status effects without being spam-able. There are also a large number of these, all looking very unique and these actually entice you to try them out.
Nioh 2 has you playing a custom and silent protagonist and so their development is limited. Then again, William had the personality of a brick, so there’s no real loss in that regard. You are joined by a number of companions during your journey though. Most of them appear in three or four missions and they’re likable enough, but with no real chance to get to know them. The only except to this are Tokichiro and Mumyo who you do encounter through the whole story. They also have some interesting character development through the story.
Through the story you’ll help and hinder a number of the feudal Japanese Lords in their conquest of the country. There’s little really to tie each mission together though and my interest in the story soon gave way to my interest in the gameplay. The side missions don’t really add anything other than a bit of dialogue relating to one of the many side characters. But do provide more ways to grind out levels and equipment should you need. But I lost interest in them about halfway through the game. Finally, there’s a vague side story of who murdered your parents, but not anything that’s particularly enthralling.
Overall Nioh 2 offers a satisfying combat experience even if the loot system leaves something to be desired. Don’t look here if you want a memorable or coherent story, but gameplay and level design will keep you going. Overall it took me about 60 hours to complete but you could easily invest >100 hours if you wanted to see and maximise everything Nioh 2 has to offer.
Oh, and play with Japanese audio and subtitles, I found it far less jarring.
If really hard games are your thing, why not try our Celeste review?
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Despite a weak story, Nioh 2 provides some great gameplay that kept me coming back for more
- Overall - 8.5/108.5/10
+ Highly Customisable Gameplay
+ Great Level Design
+ Improved Mechanics on Original
– Weak story and Inconsequential Characters