The gist of it
Nioh 2 is a good and fun souls-like that implements an RPG/diablo-like system and some updated mechanics, with the story set before the events of the first game sorta, and a nice cast of characters that get wasted.
StoryAs I said in the beginning, Nioh 2 is set way before the events of the first one, except for the last chapter, where you play as a half-human, half-yokai sorta character which has a huge number of plot holes. The story progresses quite severely through the years which makes a lot of interesting characters unimportant, besides the main ones.
Characters come and go, die, or live on as you watch mostly passively as history is being made, as pawns are being moved, as evil dominates the land, and so on. You are just a pawn with a huge title behind him and most of the game except for the final chapter, you just do what you’re being told while making absolutely no dent in the enemies’ plans. Hell, even after you defeat the person behind all bad, he just comes back, no explanation needed so they could tie in with the events of the first game. It’s ridiculous, to say the least, and I was not a fan of it, at all.
You either go for the FromSoftware trademark where the story is told through obscure items and environments and even weird dialogues or you make a story that has a coherent progression. None of these are in Nioh 2. The story is clear, don’t get me wrong, it’s just the way they chose to adapt their huge lore is what I had issues with. You meet quite a big number of emotional characters and it’s all wasted. Prequels have a disadvantage as you know what’s coming that’s why they’re made with a huge focus on characters which Nioh 2 squanders.
Story rating: 7/10
If you played the first game like I did you’ll know exactly what to expect from Nioh 2 plus some extra goodies. If you never played Nioh, this is mostly an RPG diablo-like game with a huge focus on looting while also adapting the souls-like formula of stamina-based combat but way more improved.
What I mean by improved is, the combat is separated into 3 forms, low, mid, and high-stance each with its own advantage or disadvantage. You can certainly use all three in combat, there are even skills that can help you with that or you can choose to focus on one stance. I personally love the strong/high-stance. Now the combat does not stop just there, you also have different movesets based on the weapon types you choose and each weapon has its own skill tree. It sounds complicated on paper but the gist and my advice are, pick two weapons and focus on them. You can certainly try to play with all the weapons and you will at first as you get the hang of it but in the end, you’ll have to focus on two types, mainly because the leveling stats, such as stamina, health, etc. have their weapon partner for example constitution which increases your health, increases your spear damage, stamina for axes and so on.
And just like the combat looting is of huge importance in Nioh, more than any other souls-like, because every enemy you kill is a freaking pinata of colored loot. You’ll be doing a ton of min-maxing, improving weapons, crafting armor, and so on.
So while Nioh 2 is pretty much just like the first one with a few ups here and there, it’s still a satisfying and fun game to play. Bosses are challenging and if you mess up your stats you may have no chance of beating the game. Luckily you can always reset some of your stats so keep that in mind.
Gameplay rating: 8.5/10
The soundtrack in Nioh 2 goes from weak as hell to some amazing orchestra with the former having an advantage over the latter sadly. Most of the good songs are in later parts of the game while the rest are just repetitive tunes here and there and might even get annoying to some. Boss songs are fine.
Voice acting in Japanese, as well as all the characters you meet, are all really good and it’s the reason why I hated the way they chose to tell the story. As for the sound effects, it’s all pretty good, no issues encountered whatsoever, except maybe the quality is a bit too low on some stuff but you’ll rarely notice it.
Audio rating: 8/10
Graphics, performance, and tech analysis
I’ll start with the port performance. It’s fine for the most part but Japanese devs or whomever ports these Japanese games, need to hire some actual developers that do this for a living. The special effects are bugged as hell and will drop your frames to low 30 even with the most powerful PC on the market. They also could not be bothered to increase the graphical details of the game and you’ll the shadows and textures popping 5 feet in front of you. PS5 has a LOD setting but PC does not. A ♥♥♥♥♥♥ thing to do but hey at least we got DLSS, I guess.
Level design is a bit of a step up from the previous game, except for the side quests which are still weak as hell. Some main levels are well designed with paths and shortcuts opening up as you progress and some whether you like or not, may become a maze for inexperienced players. It’s nowhere near a Metroidvania type of map design though and it’s a damn shame.
As for the way the game looks, textures are still old-gen era due to being an average port however some of the special effects such as the lighting or the stuff coming out of spells and attacks are quite nice to look at. Character models look quite good in cutscenes, which are locked at 30 fps. Japanese devs, you can do better for PC.
Graphics, performance and tech analysis score: 7/10
Despite some issues, I had with the story which some of you may not and the game is a mediocre port, it’s impossible not to recommend it to Nioh fans and if you never played the first one, I’d still say go for it. The combat is the best in the souls-like genre and I’d even argue it can easily compete with Souls games.
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