I’ve been putting this review off for a long old time now because I wanted to ensure that I have digested everything the post game had to offer me and be sure I had enough time to finalize my thoughts on Koei Tecmo’s sequel to the EXCELLENT Nioh.
But is it as good as the original Samurai Souls? Or does it fall short of William Adams’ samurai adventure?
Firstly, I will dig into the reason we subject ourselves to these difficult games – the gameplay. The Soulsborne and Soulslike games all hinge on the balance between being achievable and still a blast to play and being difficult enough that they still fill us with the intense level of satisfaction that no other Action RPG even comes close to replicating. This balance decides whether a Soulslike is worthy of our time or has simply leaned too far in one direction.
The good news is that with Nioh 2, I found they have got the balance of this absolutely perfect. The original often suffered by being a little too hard in places and I wax lyrical that ,of all the Soulsbornes, Soulslikes and the rest, Nioh 1 is the hardest of the bunch, but this is where Nioh 2 has improved most from it’s predecessor as the difficulty curve (for a veteran of Souls games this is) has been absolutely nailed.
The introduction of the DMC-like Devil (Yokai) trigger which allows the protagonist to take the form of a Yokai and carve through enemies like a hot knife through butter. This also gives the player a decent safety net on the bosses as you cannot take damage in this form so you can utilise this time to deal damage or sink a couple of health potions down your gullet.
All of this combined makes Nioh 2 my favourite of all the Soulsbornes/Soulslikes, at least when it comes to gameplay mechanics.
One of the big differences between the Nioh games and the usual Soulsbornes of it’s ilk (Sekiro notwithstanding) is that they have a storyline that branches over the two games. Nioh 2 acts as a prequel to Nioh (for about 90% of the game then it’s a direct sequel but I won’t be spoiling that in here) and if you have a love of Samurai history and mythology then you will find a lot to cherish with Story of Nioh 2. I appreciate that, in many reviews, people have often said the story doesn’t deliver but I enjoyed it for what it is, it should also be noted that I don’t really play these games for the story either so having a narrative drive me forwards was just a nice added bonus for me.
I understand that these difficult titles are not for everyone, however as usual there is a coop system in place so that you can team up with that one friend everyone has who thinks these games are easy in order to help you on your way. One of you has to have completed the level first but otherwise co-oping is easy as anything in Nioh 2.
Throughout my 80 hours I spent with the game, I regularly compared it with FromSoftwares own Samurai adventure: Sekiro. This I thought would be of detriment to Nioh 2 but by the time I had finished with it, I genuinely believe that I prefer Nioh 2 to Sekiro overall. The co-oping is important to me as a sense of camaraderie that really adds to the experience, coupled with gameplay mechanics I simply prefer to Sekiro puts it higher in my estimations.
I will come right out and say it: Nioh 2 is better than Sekiro. (come at me internet)
All in, Nioh 2 can easily contend with the best Soulslikes and even deserves a place on the mantle with the likes of Sekiro and Bloodborne as one of the best of the genre.
If you love difficult games or Samurai mythology then there is so much to love when it comes to Nioh 2 – with this in mind I give the game a 9/10.