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The Westfield Voice

Nioh 2 Review


Serving as a prequel to the first game, Nioh 2 brings back everything from before with plenty of improvements. Combat, graphics, and customization are all far cleaner. The same formula was kept and built on, but that means many of the weaknesses from the previous game were kept as well. 

Unlike the first Nioh where players took control of a pre-made protagonist named William, this installment utilizes custom characters. This comes with strengths and draw backs. The character customization in the game is amazing. You can edit almost every aspect of your character’s face and body, as well as their voice and their style later on. The player character can also be edited at any point when a mission isn’t in progress, and customizing my styles was one of my favorite aspects of the game.

However, the amount of freedom in customization really comes at a cost of story and a compelling protagonist. The main example of this is no dialogue choices in the game and no voice lines from the character. That obviously leads to a very boring player character. 

Unfortunately, the narrative falls flat compared to the previous game as well. Both Nioh games take place in feudal Japan, and feature real historical figures, which appear in both games. The difference is in the focal point of the story. William serves as the central point of the adventure, and he actually has his own lines and development, while Nioh 2 has a prequel story that feels more like a lore recap than a compelling adventure. Rather than following a central character with new characters long the way, we get small insights on past characters we already knew. In short, the story didn’t come close to grabbing my attention, and it didn’t encourage me to blast through the game. 

Nioh 2 does fill that gap in story with an addicting combat system that mirrors the previous game. Just like before, multiple weapon types, such as spears or swords, can be used with three different stances. And of course, the punishing lock on-based combat is still a corner stone. I couldn’t tell if it was the game, or my skills deteriorating, but this might’ve been the hardest souls-like game I’ve played to date. I’ve played all the FromSoftware games, the previous Nioh, and so on. This game sent me back to the checkpoint shrine countless times. I spent hours frustrated by bosses, or random enemy encounters, and I have a theory as to why: the yokai or dark realms. 

These realms are new additions to the game that drain your stamina regeneration, which can make or break every fight. Every combat system in the game was a blast to me, except for those damn realms. They brought me a ton of grief and I can certainly say I would remove those from the game in a heartbeat if I could.

Looking beyond the combat, there is a lot that I disagree with in the game. The most glaring problem for me is the flow of the game and the way that side missions work. Each new area brings new main story missions and plenty of optional side missions. Players select a mission when they want to play, and they play through that level from start to finish. That’s the first problem for me, as it breaks the feeling of adventure and immersion in the game. Instead of the world being connected, it is split up into mission areas that end.  

The side missions are the larger problem though. Even when completing every mission available to me, I found myself being under-leveled as the game progressed. That’s a problem when the game is already super punishing. To make matters worse, most of the side missions reused the same areas over and over again or ripped the same area from the main missions. So not only are players forced to stay leveled to some degree in those side missions, but they aren’t even worthwhile. 

Without a story to boast about, a lacking loot system, and a poor flow, I found my time in the game being hindered. What’s good in Nioh 2 is essentially upgraded versions of what was good in the first game. However, it seems like what was weak in the first game also got weaker for Nioh 2. If you absolutely loved the first game, and enjoy punishing action games, this might be a great purchase for you. Otherwise, you may be better off skipping this game entirely.

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