Review: Nioh 2

Nioh 2

Nioh 2 is a strange game, or rather a sequel. On the one hand, stylistically, the continuation of the 2017 Souls-like RPG has become much more reminiscent of the next creation of the anime conveyor named Koei Techmo. On the other hand, it has a much stronger hand than Team Ninja, the developers responsible for one of the most hardcore slashers of the past generation – the Ninja Gaiden series. And losing much of the charm of the original along the way, Nioh 2 gains what was lacking in the first part – the gameplay personality.

Despite the name, Nioh 2 is a prequel to the first game in the series. The story in the game is set in the era of the warring provinces in medieval Japan. You have to try on the role of a silent hero, having previously created him \ her in the character editor, uncover the secret nature of “spiritual stones” that endow their owners with supernatural powers, and defeat hordes of Yokai demons across the country.

The storyline of Nioh 2

As in the first game, the plot in Nioh 2 is mainly presented through short videos and expositions (briefings) before missions, has a historical basis, but simply connects the levels, trying to somehow explain everything that happens. And we cannot say that this is bad … After all, when it comes to destroying demons, Nioh 2 has no equal. However, the elaboration of the story and the relationship between the characters in the original game was much better. The appearance of new characters does not cause any emotions, as well as the return of old ones. And the worst of all is the situation with the protagonist: having given the creation of the hero in the hands of the players, the developers deprived him or her of any individuality and personal history, reducing the entire plot to the salvation of Japan.

On the other hand, during the walkthrough, you hardly pay attention to these scenario problems. After all, the story in Nioh 2 provides enough context for you to be interested in following it and is pretty addicting like online slots on At the same time, the plot does not interfere with the gameplay, which rules the show here. The game is still built around the core concept of constant death and rebirth like in the Dark Souls gaming series. And a large amount of multi-colored loot straight from Diablo has not gone anywhere. The first Nioh was associated more with Dark Souls, the Nioh 2 however, is associated primarily with Ninja Gaiden and its dynamic action, advanced combat system, and overall complexity. Nioh 2 no longer forgives mistakes, punishes the slightest misstep, and challenges even the most hardcore players to fight like real samurai with inhuman reflexes.

Gameplay, Skills, Items, and Enemies

There are more opponents, they have become stronger and angrier, and the battles themselves now take place in a variety of situations. Each fight requires high precision: the timing of your attacks and enemy attacks, knowledge of their techniques and sequences, Ki energy restoration (a local analog of stamina), the use of combo attacks, resource management, terrain analysis – all this has to be constantly kept in mind and taken into account in battle. One wrong decision – and you will find yourself in a vulnerable position or, more likely, go to the nearest temple of resurrection. Because in Nioh 2, even ordinary opponents now pose a danger and can block your path to victory.

The threshold of entry into Nioh 2 has become much higher than in the original. Already in the first 10 minutes, you will face a giant demon mini-boss capable of killing your hero with 1-2 hits. You will not be able to relax: the developers immediately throw you into the heat and force you to understand the peculiarities of the local combat system. And even if you played the first Nioh, then get ready for the fact that you have to relearn the mechanics.

Now there are nine types of weapons available in the game. Each weapon offers a unique balance between speed, damage, and attack range, which you can adjust on the fly by switching between three stances: low, medium, and high. Naturally, at any time you can change the same glaive to a classic katana, but most likely you will be vulnerable. The fact is that each type of weapon has its own skill tree. To upgrade them, you need special points that you earn using this weapon in battle. Besides, Nioh 2 requires you to have a very deep understanding of what exactly your weapon is capable of, what attacks they can carry out, and the range of attacks is very wide – each hit, each technique contributes to the way you fight. Therefore, it is very important to find your personal style as early as possible.

Also, the game has a character level. To increase it, you need Amrita, which you earn by killing enemies. By pumping the level, you increase the characteristics of the hero. Several skill trees will also come in handy in battles. And of course, a lot of loot. All this improves or degrades the characteristics of the character. At first glance, it may seem that the local pumping system is too redundant, but it is not. On the contrary, it allows you to flexibly customize the hero to your fighting style.

All of the above, with rare exceptions, one way or another was already present in the first Nioh. The biggest change in Nioh 2 is the ability of the protagonist to use demonic energy to perform special moves. The most important of these is parrying, which allows you to resist powerful enemy attacks, counterattacks, and turn the tide of battle at a crucial moment. This is what makes the battles in Nioh 2 more tactical and aggressive, adds dynamics to them, and forces you to constantly attack opponents using all available methods.

At the same time, demonic abilities are not constant. You can learn new abilities and improve them with the help of soul cores, which sometimes drop from killed enemies. And unlike ninjutsu and magic, migrated from the original, demonic abilities perform the functions of combo attacks in Nioh 2, for which you need to accumulate special energy. They will not allow you to instantly win the battle, but their competent use will greatly facilitate the outcome of the fight.

Another novelty in Nioh 2 is the transformation into a demon. If in the first part the guardian spirit possessed the weapon of the protagonist, after which he did more damage. In the sequel you completely turn into a demon, becoming stronger and faster for a short time. But even in this case, you will not be able to relax, because both using attacks and taking damage reduces the amount of time that you can spend in demonic form. So, there is always a chance of returning to human form the moment the enemy catches you by surprise. After all, opponents do not sleep, but constantly move around the location, attack, and use the terrain in their advance, which often also plays against you. For example, in locations with swamps, you move slowly, but snake-like demons, on the contrary, are very mobile.

Zones shrouded in darkness also add complexity. They have strong demonic energy, so the main character’s stamina recovers more slowly, and opponents become stronger. Usually, there are several such zones on the location, you must go through them, and in order to dissipate demonic energy, you need to destroy a special crystal or a special enemy. Besides, such zones can also be created by bosses, enveloping the entire arena in darkness.


And that’s what Nioh 2 is all about. It constantly forces you to go forward and attack. Die, reborn, go forward again, and attack. Know your enemies. Discover new techniques and learn to use them. And this must be done all the time because at each level you will have at least one unique enemy that you are unlikely to defeat on the first try. And yes, having defeated him once, it is not a fact that the second time will be easier. Because Nioh 2 is a game about complexity, about how to destroy enemies as quickly and efficiently as possible, using the full range of the hero’s capabilities (as well as your own).

The variety in battles, techniques, and enemies, as well as the constant need to improve yourself, ensures that Nioh 2 will keep your interest until the very end of the game.