Review: Nioh 2 – Freed from this mortal coil

Nioh 2, honestly mixed feelings went into my stomach when this game showed up in my mailbox. Still, I'm lucky to have once again ventured into Team Ninja's rock-solid action RPG. In this review, I'm going to tell you all about Nioh 2 and why you shouldn't miss it, regardless of whether you missed the first game .

We say goodbye (not quite) to William and get to work with a new character in Nioh 2. Your very own! In part 2 you assemble your own samurai and you can really lose an hour on this, because the possibilities in the character creation are very extensive. Very cool and not completely useless by the way. Since Nioh 2 is generally a fairly slow game with a lot of trial and error, you, at least I, often take a few moments of rest and I look around, or admire my character. And trust me, there's a lot to admire in Team Ninja's recreation of Japan in 1555 and beyond.
Story screen Nioh 2

Half-human, half-demon

The big difference between part 1 and part 2 is that you have a new character. You are the son or daughter of mixed parents. You get a bit of this in the intro. Your father is human, but your mother is a Yokai. You will learn more about this later in the story. Just like the first part, Nioh 2 bears the well-known theme from Japanese folklore. Feudal Japan used the term Yokai very broadly. The ghosts, monsters and demons were mainly used to 'explain' unexplained events. In Nioh, folklore takes on an imaginative, dark, but very cool interpretation. We see the Yokai and we embrace them, but we also fight them. It's a trade-off between good and bad. The forces of the 'Dark Realm', the homeworld of the Yokai, are powerful, but very dangerous. In Nioh 2, your character struggles with this conflict, but as a player, it's the least you need to worry about.
So you are a half-breed and you reap all the benefits of this. Your old life and Ki bar remain intact, but this time you also have an Anima bar. This bar says something about your Yokai powers. Three resources to keep track of while playing. The latter is what you need to worry about the least. But it is so important that it is there. This allows you to perform special Yokai attacks and reflect specific special Yokai attacks from enemies.
Yokai attack

Omae wa mou shindeiru

The combat in Nioh 2 relies heavily on its predecessor, but is slightly more complex, but also better put together. Team Ninja is one of the top tier developers when it comes to combat focus and the diversity, intensity and personality in Nioh 2 proves this. There are a lot of weapons you can use. More than in the first part and my new favorite: the Switchglaive. A scythe-like device with three shapes. Again you also have a number of weapons to throw such as throwing stars, kunai and bombs. Through special magical powers, you also learn to use fire, electricity, water, poison and other resources to temporarily strengthen your weapons or defend yourself against the elements.

A brand new element in Nioh 2 is your Yokai powers. Because you are half-human, half-demon, you can embrace and use the forces of the dark world. Once you devour a Yokai, it can drop a core. This core, like all other equipment, comes with a level and bonuses. These can therefore differ from each other. By praying with your newly picked core at a shrine you purify the core and you can house it in your spirit. You can house two cores per spirit and you can only have one spirit active at a time. The cores you have set are now special attacks that you can use during battle. In addition to these special attacks, you can also temporarily turn yourself into a Yokai. Once your shift gauge is full you can transform into a Yokai. Your life bar,Ki-Bar and Anima Bar now turn into a Yokai Shift Bar that slowly deflates itself, as well as by attacking, dodging, blocking and taking blows. Once the bar is empty, change back to your human form. In your Yokai form you can temporarily deal a lot of damage.

Incredibly brutal action

As I said, the combat relies heavily on the first part. This way you still use different postures. A high, medium and low posture. High for most damage, but also most Ki consumption, medium to be in between and low. You get it. Your attitude can depend purely on the situation and the enemies. Do you have a big opening to attack, or do you barely have the time? There are various factors that make you constantly weigh up your attitude. You also have separate skill trees per attitude and per weapon to learn more attacks or passive bonuses. You also get skill points per weapon to spend simply using that weapon. So you have a lot of freedom in weapon choice and play style in Nioh 2.
Just like you, your enemies also use Ki as a resource. Every attack requires some energy (Ki) so you can't keep spamming like a crazy square. Your enemies, although NPCs, can't keep spamming attacks either. Handling your Ki well is key (haha) in Nioh 2. As soon as your enemy runs out of energy, you can knock him out with an attack after which you can unleash a powerful attack on them. This is also possible with Yokai, although they do not use Ki, but Anima. This one runs out a little faster.
There are tons of ways to overpower your enemy, but don't get too aggressive. Patience is a virtue. The tendency to let the brutal action dominate you is great, but often costs you your head.

Cunning is also a weapon

Not only do you achieve your goal in Nioh 2 through sharp metal and hard hits, but occasionally taking a step back can also do you good. Not all enemies have to die, can you get around them? Feel free to go around it. Once you pray at a shrine, all normal enemies return from the dead. Yokai who come through a wormhole into the human world simply remain dead. Wandering Yokai in the human world also return to life. This allows you to farm them for amrita to level up your character. With extra levels you buy upgrades such as more damage for certain weapon types, more health, higher weight limit and so on. At the shrine you can also sacrifice your old or other weapons for points that you can spend in a special shop near the shrine. You can buy elixirs (health potions) from this.Sacrificing weapons also gives you XP, have you used the weapon before? Then you get more XP for it.
Environment in Nioh 2

grave robberies

During the game you will find different types of graves. Red and blue variants. With the red variants, you summon a revenant from another player. You can fight with this. You can see his level and equipment beforehand, so you can still decide to withdraw the droppings. Once you defeat the revenant, it leaves behind items that you can use again for your journey. Part of this stuff is often special 'ochoke cups'. You need these for the blue graves. With a certain item, 'righteous jasper' you place a blue grave. You can use this yourself, but other players will also see that blue grave. They can then summon a revenant from whoever placed that grave. Unlike fighting with this revenenant, this one now helps you fight. Ideal for situations where you have to fight against powerful enemies.Calling up such a revenant will therefore cost you those special ochoke cups.

Nioh at his best

Feudal Japan looked gorgeous in 1555. At least, in Team Ninja's recreation. It's not the most beautiful game we've had the pleasure of playing on the Playstation 4, but certainly not the ugliest. The game just looks good. The environments are dark, old and give you exactly the feeling that Nioh has to give off. Did you miss the first part by any chance? That doesn't really matter that much. The game takes place before the events of the first part. So you don't really miss that much what you can catch up on later. Because Nioh 2 you actually have to give yourself a bit. Especially if the aforementioned terms already sound somewhat interesting to your ears and especially if you have already played the first part.
I don't really want to make the Dark Souls comparison, because apart from the fact that both franchises are just very spicy, Nioh 2 is really a completely different game. Are you not afraid of a bump and do you like a challenge? A challenge in a beautiful, beautiful, complex jacket? Then Nioh 2 might be your new demon.


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