I have not expressed it enough but I am a big fan of Nioh. It is the game that got me into the Souls-like genre, the one that taught me lessons I could use everyday (and yet I still don't learn). Surely, it made sense that I would be hyped for the sequel and get it for launch.
Nioh 2 was announced in E3 2018 and I was really excited. This time around you have Yokai powers. Things were going to get really interesting. 2019 came and the game was set to be released in early 2020. The first half of 2020 seemed to be packed at the time but I had my eyes set on Nioh 2. Of course, LoU2 and Cyberpunk 2077 also had me excited but Nioh had its own special place. With the start of 2020, a lot of the games started getting delayed and there Nioh 2 was going to get it's time in the sun.
Then March came around and launch day I was not so keen on getting the game. I had tried the demo a few weeks back and I was not able to get into it. I decided perhaps at the end of this year, I could consider it. But then my friend forced my hand and got the game at the end of May. Around that time, I was playing Last of Us in prep for Part II and was a bit wary to get into a new game. But then I started playing the game and the rest, as they say, was history.
I got really obsessed with the game. I was playing through it slowly, shrine to shrine, but this time with a custom character creator, an extensive photo mode, Yokai abilities and the combat, I found myself looking forward to the time I could play this game.
Right out from the first level, I remembered my love for this game. And just to tease new players, the developers had put in a challenging Yokai, Gozuki (actually he is the brother of the first level boss), right in the opening area. I did not have the guts to face this demon. So I made my around him and through the village. I was reminded of how satisfying the combat was. My favorite weapon was the sword. I found myself quite comfortable fighting with it.
Ah! so many memories came rushing in as I fought familiar foes and with the unfamiliar, I started to recognize their pattern. I can tell you that Nioh has a way to test your patience. If you just slip away, you will be punished severely. This time around the developers seemed to have laid out the entire first level as a tutorial mission to get you used to the game. I took my sweet time understanding the mechanics and reminding myself not to be greedy with the attacks.
Out of the game, I was obsessed with watching others play the game, esp. ManVsGame. I found myself going through his old vods, picking up hints and tips on how to improve my gameplay. He had opted for a sword/kusarigama Ninja build working towards the Dragon Ninja armor.
That is one of the best things about Nioh: each one of us have a unique playstyle. Even my friend, johnwick0719, had adopted a Ninja build and watching him play in co-op gave me a few ideas on what to opt towards. Between ManVsGame's completion play-style and johnwick0719 working towards the Nioh 2 Platinum, I was inspired to go through the game to at-least complete as much as I could in my first play-through.
The end of first level marked the beginning of the story. You meet the ambitious merchant, Tokichiro, who deals in Spirit stones and wants to move up from his meager position. Many people do not give much credit to the story in Nioh series but to me, I loved the alternate history narrative that the developers have weaved into Nioh.
The characters in this game have a deep backstory, being taken from real life and you can see where Koei Tecmo has bent the story to serve the fantasy element in it. The game is a prequel to the first game, set 50 years before Nioh and it feels nice to discover the story of characters you interacted with in the first game. The entire saga of Oda Nobunaga and his family is laid out in the first half of this game. Their fates being tied with the fate of Japan in the 1560s, it does make sense to explore their evolution.
The twist on the story of Hideyoshi, making you a part of his journey goes to show how well the story of Nioh 2 has interleaved with the truth. I had forgotten the written parts that show up during some cutscenes. But when I came across the below shot in my archives, I started to make the connections. It all made sense now and I was amazed.
I was witnessing the journey of Hideyoshi from the bottom of the chain to becoming the ruler of Japan. I had so much more to discover.
Combat & Bosses
I have already mentioned that combat in Nioh is one of the most satisfying combat I have ever played. The feedback on each and every kill, the difference between the weapons you use and the difference between the same weapon in the varied stances itself feel satisfying. It is equivalent to the first game with another layer of granularity added with the Yokai abilities and Yokai shift. I love whipping out Yokai for against Yokai, giving them a taste of their own medicine. It is one thing to see this in a trailer but totally another to experience it yourself and let me tell you, it is just amazing.
There is no denying the high you get when defeating a boss in Nioh. The trouble you face and the number of deaths until you figure out the boss's weakness. But most of all, there is one thing always required when taking down a boss and that is patience. I have found myself frustrated at the game because of the number of times I have to retry fighting a boss (I am looking at you Yatsu No Kami), until I realize it has been my lack of patience that is the one to blame.
To assist you in your journey this time around, the developers have provided the option to use Benevolent Graves and summon acolytes. Acolytes can provide you with the help you need with that difficult, annoying boss or simply, give you some co-op company as you go through a level.
Every attempt at the boss teaches you something and this is very useful in finally taking down the boss. Sometimes, you learn that you are under-leveled, under-equipped to handle the boss. It is just that aggressive, nagging part of the mind that won't let go, that is not ready to come back stronger, but just persist through at the current level, further adding to the overall frustration. Facing this multiple times throughout the game, I find myself either giving into the feeling and summoning help or evolving beyond it to come back stronger. I find that in the much more recent parts, I am more calm and level headed. Nioh 2 has helped me grow.
Starting out skeptically, I found myself being immersed more and more into this game. I loved the combat and the variety of weapons. I started out with the sword but with the aim to master all the other weapons, I gave each of them a try. The newly added weapons, Switchglaive and Hatchets, have also become my new favorites. In fact, I have grown fond of the Switchglaive more than the Sword. The weapon does seem reminiscent of the Saw Cleaver from Bloodborne.
Personally, at this point, Nioh 2 is a Game of the Year contender for me. I am more than halfway through the story and am excited to play more. I can see myself sinking even more hours into this game. You may find me ranting about this game again in a few weeks. Forgive me in advance and stay tuned! I just love this game so much.