The hulking success of the Dark Souls franchise is hard to ignore, especially when it’s one of the most revered action-RPG franchises in the whole of gaming. One thing that can’t be offered within FromSoftware’s titan franchise, is the opportunity to slay fearsome bosses as none other than a fearless samurai.
In Nioh 2, Team Ninjas follow up game to 2017’s Nioh, players continue to be offered exactly that, and much more, with the PC release bringing with it all 3 DLC’s into one complete bundle.
With that in mind, we took a look at the latest adventure with Nioh 2 – The Complete Edition.
Whilst it may have released as a sequel, the main storyline events in Nioh 2 take place in a prequel timeline to that of the original game for the vast majority of gameplay, with only a few of the final missions taking place as sequel events to the Siege of Osaka timeline of the first game.
Before you can get started on the story though, you must first progress through a strong character creation screen, which brings a multitude of options for both a male and female protagonist. Once you have created the look of your character, known by name as Hide, things are quickly thrust headfirst into combat preparation with a tutorial that showcases all the key actions to ensure players know the ins-and-outs perfectly, before embarking on the adventure ahead.
With combat knowledge learned, the final step is to choose your starting weapons from a selection of swords, spears, and axes, amongst other items available and to choose a starting guardian spirit and then you are off with the Sengoku-era awaiting you.
Onto the story and players step into the shoes of Hide, a half-man (or woman), half-yokai whose travels see you play as somewhat of a yokai mercenary. Regardless of the mission you play, the formula is generally the same. Each level contains numerous enemies strewn throughout, all of which will have the capabilities to prove a serious threat, whilst a boss usually awaits the end of every level. Once you defeat the boss, it is mission complete before going back to the world map to choose the next one.
To progress, however, there is a lot of grinding required. Missions come with a recommended character level before heading into them. Should you go in underpowered, even slightly, you will quickly find yourself being served up by even basic enemies, meaning replaying missions over and over is something that will be needed on occasion.
What makes things difficult to progress is the combat. Whilst the truly punishing nature of even a slight mistake is evident from the off, the combat is by far the biggest highlight of Nioh 2. Despite dying more times than I care to count, never did I have a death I could not learn from or have a time I could point to fault on my part. With each death players are expected to get up, learn from the mistake and go back and try again.
Much like the aforementioned Dark Souls, Nioh 2 brings with it a checkpoint type feature in the form of a Shrine. When activated, Shrines allow players to level up their character, improve stats by using Amrita earned from killing enemies, as well as make offerings to receive blessings, summon other online players to help out, and so on. Activating a shrine also resets all enemies, besides bosses, meaning any cleared areas are no longer cleared.
Whilst the combat proves highly enjoyable, regardless of your weapon of choice, it has to be said that the story is not something that sticks in the mind very long. Maybe it’s because the combat is simply so much of a focus to the gameplay, or maybe it’s because the story isn’t quite as memorable as it could be. But for the most part, it hardly affects the way you play Nioh 2. Throughout my entire playthrough, I was more than happy running from level to level, trying my hand at each and every new and exciting enemy, whilst focussing on the tactical timing of when to swing my axe or try a heavy attack with my swords.
On top of this, what is more interesting is that Nioh 2 sees players able to utilise different fighting styles with low, mid and high stances, each providing different attack styles and movement speed. This allows you to truly test multiple methods when looking for an enemy’s weakness.
Another big gameplay element is the loot, with most enemies dropping either a weapon, armour piece or consumable of some kind. There is certainly no lack of shiny and exciting objects to rush in for after every victory. The key point to these items is to ensure the ones you have equipped are the ones which provide the highest stats. With numbers filling the screen with each and every item you look at, it can be hard to understand exactly what you are looking at. However, sticking with the highest-level gear isn’t a bad way to go for the non-initiated.
Once you have made your way through the main campaign, access to the games three DLC’s is made available with The Tengu’s Disicple, Darkness in the Capital and The First Samurai all opening up as new regions. Each of these have multiple missions within, all of which provide even more unique enemy offerings and bring even more challenge, with The Tengu’s Disciple feeling a lot more challenging than even that of the main game. The overall concept is still the same of course – play each mission, kill the enemies and kill the boss at the end – and to be honest, that’s all they need to be with the gameplay proving a gripping experience.
Away from the gameplay, Nioh 2 is still a strong performer. The visuals look sublime and the game runs fairly smoothly for the most part, with only the slight hiccup on the odd occasion seeing the frame rate stutter a little. Sadly, the options don’t bring too much in the way of customisation for visuals. Although this review was played on a RTX 2080Ti, which ensured a smooth look to things, chances are those with lower-end rigs might see performance issues become slightly more prominent. Nevertheless, options aside, the visuals are still impressive, and they aren’t the only impressive feature outside of gameplay either.
The audio on offer provides a soothing oriental score, that sets the tone of Sengoku-era well, whilst boss battles provide several memorable changes in the game audio to really raise the tension.
Overall and if you are someone who revels in the drastic difficulty and meticulous planning required to run the gauntlet of a Dark Souls game, then Nioh 2 is going to be something you want to get involved in. With 25 main story missions, more than 100 sub and twilight missions, an end-game dungeon and all DLC content, Nioh 2 – The Complete Edition has easily more than 100 hours of content.
With an incredible amount of unique enemies to combat, and an entire world of loot to sift through, Nioh 2 is certainly a game that shouldn’t be ignored by fans of the action-RPG genre.
It is not easy, and it won’t be for everyone, but if you like a challenge and want a game that can keep you satisfied all the way to the end credits and well beyond, then Nioh 2 – The Complete Edition certainly cannot be ignored.
- Satisfying combat that forces you to learn how each enemy works
- Soothing oriental soundtrack
- Tons of loot to sift through
- A lot like Dark Souls, only more linear and to the point
- The story isn’t half as exciting as the combat
Overall Score – 4/5
- Huge thanks to Koei Tecmo for providing the free copy of the game
- Available Platforms – PS4, PS5, PC
- Reviewed on – PC
- Release date – 5th February 2021
- Install size – 76.35 GB
- Price at launch – £49.99