Nioh 2: Complete Edition sees a return to the Feudal Japan era and the Yokai-slaying, which we have all become familiar with after Williams’ exploits. It’s also a prequel to the first game, and sees you creating your character, who is part Yokai or Shiftling, meaning you can transform into a Yokai based upon the element you have selected. Your character is simply known as Hide (Hiddy when you meet up with Tokichiro) and you’ll work your way through the Sengoku era (Civil War, early 1500s), during which you will witness the rise and fall of the Warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
So, in starting this title, the opening story tells of a man who arrives at a village who becomes a demon and slays everyone. A young man crafts a blade from golden stones, which gives it an otherwordly glow and manages to slay the invincible demon with the weapon. After your mother is slain by a red-eyed man weilding a spear, you are then passed a short sword (looks a little larger than a tanto) before seeing the same man in a demonic realm, which then cuts to the character creation.
This game has you create your character who can be either male or female, followed by a whole wealth of options for customisation, which we now see in many RPGs from like likes of Bethesda etc. You also get to choose the horns your Yokai form has for complete customisation. Something I do like on Nioh 2, which Ubisoft did with the Assassins Creed franchise, is the option to hide any head gear, so that during cutscenes you can see your characters face. After customisation, you’ll arrive on the island with the tree you see in the intro. At this point, you’ll choose two weapons and also get to choose one of three Yokia forms to get you started.
There are many weapons from which to choose, including the longer horse sword, katana, twin swords, spears, hammers, scythes, axes, kusarigama and a few others, which are similar to the base weapon, such as a spear that has a sword blade on the end. There is also a selection of bows, rifles and pistols for ranged attacks which comes in handy clearing rooftops, before attacking enemies below; not forgetting numerous armour sets, you will find giving bonuses if you have a complete set. You do have to watch your equipment burden, however, since if you go over 100%, you’ll find yourself running out of Ki quickly.
Once again you have the high, low and mid stances, which offer heavier, lighter attacks, or a general all-rounder. The heavier attacks use more Ki (Stamina), whereas the low uses less Ki, so you can get more attacks chained together before having to back away, which is ideal for twin swords and kusarigama. Some enemies respond in different ways to the attacks from the different stances, so using a heavy or mid attack to break a guard and stagger them, then finish them off switching to lower stance chaining attacks together. The combat is very tactical and you will find the best way to take out the numerous enemies, as you venture further into the game.
Unlike the From Software titles Dark Souls & Bloodborne etc where the world is open and you open up new areas as you explore, both Nioh games see you taking up specific missions which you select from a map screen. Once entering a mission, it is an enclosed area with shortcuts that you will open up, leading you back to the shrine which is always near the start of a mission. Much like the Dark Souls games in a way, making it quicker to get back to a boss confrontation, instead of having to traipse through half a level again, full of the enemies you had already slain. Similarly, once you visit a shrine, it resets the level. The shines allow you to level up and you can also offer unwanted items to the Kodama. These little green guys you will find hiding in various places on each level which you send back to the shrine to receive blessings. So, offering items to them will give you points for the want of better words that you can spend in their bazaar. This includes ammo for ranged weapons, health packs and the Ochoko Cups, which is required for summoning other players.
Mission locations are nicely varied with mountain passes, villages, underground caverns and the like. After completing the story mission, you will unlock additional missions in the area which you have completed, revisiting them to find or do something with a whole new set of enemies. These missions are great to get the required Amrita in order to level up before heading to the next story based mission. Nioh 2 has also included certain areas in the missions which are in the Yokai realm where your demon horns appear, and Ki regains at a slower rate. Yokai tend to be harder in these areas, and less susceptible to damage. Once killing a higher-powered demon, it will usually clear the Yokai realm from the level and you will be able to open a chest which had been secured with a demonic lock. On top of the sub-missions, the twilight missions are back with harder enemies and a greater challenge, but do reward plenty Amrita and special weapons.
Nioh 2 is literally built for Co-Op play! You do see the graves of fallen players (revenants like the first game) who you can fight to gain weapons, armour and ochoko cups, but there are also blue benevolent graves which allow you to summon a human player, but they are a computer controlled NPC with all the weapons and skills of the players current level when they set it. Once you find or receive Righteous Jasper, you can place your own benevolent grave which you will get rewards for that, can be retrieved at your hut. You can still summon human controlled players through the option in the shrine, which is handy for some of the tougher boss encounters.
I am around 20 hours in now, nearing the end of the second area. At times it has been tough going, but always fair and you generally won’t make the same mistake twice. If you go running across a level, the enemies will chase you down no matter how far you go, so it pays to take your time and be methodical in your approach. The co-op play is excellent and the inclusion of the benevolent graves to summon NPC help is great. I have had no issues summoning human players, or heading to the Torii Gate to be summoned into another players game where if set to random, you can end up in any main or sub mission you have already completed.
Nioh 2 is a superb sequel to the awesome Nioh. I love the Feudal Japan setting with the Japanese-themed Yokai and the numerous themed locations. If you like a challenge, definitely pick up both of the Nioh games if you haven’t already, and the same can be said if you love the From Software games, as you will be in your element.
With the PC version on Steam, you are getting the Definitive Edition which includes all DLC and pre-order armour sets and weapons etc. Recently, Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden has been added as a skin, alongside William from the first game, if you fancy changing up the look of your character.
My only gripe, which crops up occasionally, is that cutscenes have been created as movies rather than live in-engine, so armour and weapons shown may be incorrect, which takes you out of the immersion.
A BIG thanks to Koei Tecmo Games for supplying us with a code for the PC to be able to review Nioh 2: Complete Edition.
- Developer: Koei Tecmo Games (Team Ninja)
- Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games
- Players: Single player & Co-Op
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!