Nioh 2 is a Souls-like that really shouldn’t be compared to Dark Souls too much. The game has all of the standard features of a Souls game, yet expands in many other avenues that go some places the genre-defining series never really went. This results in a fantastic action roleplaying game that will beat you down with difficulty. Yet it will keep you coming back for more every time.
Nioh 2 is definitely hard, but the level of fun to be had keeps things from getting too frustrating. Plus, this is a true sequel that expands upon and improves on many features from its predecessor. This means the good stuff gets way better, and the bad stuff becomes highlights of the new title.
The sheer amount of customization in Nioh 2 is genuinely impressive. From the appearance options to weapon preferences and even technical gameplay options, Nioh 2 allows you to play how you want.
When I began Nioh 2, I had a bit of a hard time adapting to the controls. Naturally, the standard layout works perfectly well and has been thought out with care. However, the game still let me tweak the button mapping to my preferences, making the game feel much more comfortable for my experience.
Beyond this, character customization in Nioh 2 is fantastic. I wasn’t much of a fan of Nioh 1’s main character William, so being able to make a blank slate character was a welcome change this time around. Yes, you do lose the small amount of story that William brought to the table, but crafting my own story was still preferable. Add to that the fact that the character customization options are seriously diverse and you have a major improvement over Nioh 1.
Finally, Nioh 2 loves loot. Fans of Diablo-esque games will most certainly be pleased with the ridiculous amounts of loot you’ll find in this game, ranging from Common to Ethereal. Naturally, this makes for a wide variety of weapon and armor options. Testing out all of the weapons that the game has to offer will more than likely result in a playstyle perfect for you. This also contributes to giving players a sense of identity within the game.
The identity of players actually does matter in Nioh 2. This is due to the fantastic multiplayer component that you’ll find when you load up the game. While Nioh 1’s red Revenant Graves do return this time around, they are accompanied by new blue graves. These Benevolent Graves mark the spots of other fallen warriors that aid the player in battle.
However, you can only summon these allies by using Ochoko Cups. These items are often gained from conquering the optional Revenant Graves. This means you can’t simply use benevolent spirits for every single encounter. However, I noticed that I quickly amassed a fortune of Ochoko Cups in short time.
The problem that this poses is that Benevolent Graves really make the game easy. Of course, they’re all optional to use and it’s entirely possible to clear the game without using a single one. The temptation to do so when you hit a wall is always there, though. On one hand, this makes Nioh 2 extremely accessible in ways that games such as Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice may not have been. The downside is that it’s easy for players to be robbed of that sweet victorious feeling of finally breaking that wall when times get tough.
Nioh 2 doesn’t expect you to have played Nioh 1, nor does it require you to know too much about Japanese history. The game is centered around historical events, albeit with many big changes. For example, the giant monsters traversing the battlefields. However, this story is meant to be a sort of introduction to Japanese folklore and historical figures for those who are unfamiliar.
You’re going to die a lot in Nioh 2. That’s totally fine, though, as each death proves to be a learning experience. It can most certainly get frustrating, but players who pay attention will quickly see which mistakes they made. It’ll take time to master all of the mechanics the game has to offer, but you’ll have plenty of that in the estimated 100 hours you’ll spend in Nioh 2.
The Yokai found in Nioh 2 can be either helpful or harmful. The cute ones are usually beneficial to you and can be found throughout the levels you’ll play. Meanwhile, the mean ones will often make their presence abundantly clear via death, dismemberment, and general misery.
The enemy Yokai themselves are certainly welcome in the game. Interesting designs, unpredictable moves, and some really fun challenges make them quite beneficial to the Nioh 2 experience. Of course, some Yokai enemies are reused a few more times than I’d personally like. Despite this, the bosses that stand out really stand out in a big way.
The Yokai designs also extend to the player with the the Yokai Shift mechanic. The player now has the ability to enter a Yokai form with big gameplay benefits. In addition to the edge in gameplay you’ll receive, you can also choose your Yokai form. This also has certain customization options along with it. This adds yet another welcome layer to Nioh 2.
Nioh 2 is an incredible game that offers a lot for the price tag. It improves upon its predecessor in virtually every way, and also adds a few new things that are also well-implemented. Offering an intense challenge for those who seek it, I feel that it’s also pretty accessible to most players. Anyone looking for a deep, intriguing RPG experience or anyone with interest in Japanese folklore should definitely pay close attention to Nioh 2.