Nioh 2 Review The Art of Self-Repeat

Both good and bad news about Nioh 2 can be squeezed into one sentence: this is almost the same game as three years ago. Everything, the review is ready. Apparently, Team Ninja remembered the production hell for a long time, in which the first part languished for the unbearable for thirteen years and continued without sharp movements, just to not ruin the good name of the franchise that had just begun.

Sudoku or seppuku

If you once missed the original game, do not worry. Acquaintance with the first part is even useful, since in terms of mechanics Nioh 2 inherited all the key elements of its predecessor, but not at all necessary. The plot unfolds long before the events of the last game. At the center of the story is a demon hunter named Hide: he lives somewhere in the wilderness and periodically helps local villages with their demonic problems. But one fine day Tokichiro, a wandering stone stones dealer, enters the hunter’s hut and begs Hide to become his companion. Say, the business is profitable, but dangerous, so a satellite that can cope with monsters is very useful to him.
The scenario, as well as last time, is partially based on real historical events. Traveling to all corners of medieval Japan is gradually turning into a legend about how the cunning ragger Tokichiro came to success and became famous as Toyotomi Hideyoshi – the ruler who united the country. And on episodic roles there are a lot of other people important for the history of Japan, like Takenaki Hanbei and Oda Nobunaga – where would it be without him. This time, Koei Tecmo tried to work on the production and even had a few “unexpected” turns, but, as it were, softer to say … It so happened that now the narrative is harmful to the gameplay.

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In the first Nioh, the plot also hardly claimed to be a Nobel in literature, but it coped with its task. Namely, it created the context. The English sailor William went to Japan to save his guardian spirit from the clutches of the evil red-eyed alchemist. There is a starting point and an end goal, and between them there are hundreds of difficult battles. Nothing more is needed. Spit that the names of characters, events and dialogues immediately fly out of my head. The main thing is that the player understands why he bangs his head against a brick wall, constantly dying in the same battle with the boss.

In Nioh 2 there is no context, as well as the main character with at least some motivation. Two thirds of the game, he lurks behind the rest of the characters as if by inertia, and only closer to the final, after about thirty hours, he has a specific goal. Yes, Nioh 2 – about the gameplay, yes, the plot in such games is hardly important. But the lack of context kills the desire to move on! And there is a feeling that they sacrificed it because of a trifle – in order to add the appearance editor to the game, which the fans asked back in the first part. Thanks to Team Ninja, of course, that they listened to the wishes of the audience, but was it worth it? The character’s face is still visible only in cutscenes: during the game you will simply not be up to it, even if you hide the helmet model in the settings.

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Blood on the blade

The context is also important because, if the authors took care of it, the battle would bring even more pleasure. She is still fast, diverse and demanding of skill: the studio did not break what already worked so well. The structure of Nioh 2 has not changed a bit – we examine the locations from checkpoint to checkpoint, open shortcuts and die at every step. The game is still divided into separate missions, so there is no whole world – but the studio does not want to scold for it. She pursued very different goals.
In the first part, Team Ninja built an elegant, but at the same time extremely deep combat mechanics with many nuances. Someone can say that there were even too many nuances – all these fighting stances, endurance management, combos, ommedo magic, ninjutsu, dozens of passive equipment bonuses … But, apparently, the hottest Nioh fans still lacked a headache, so the sequel of such trifles has become even more. They do not change the gameplay in the bud – they just make it wider.

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First of all, the main feature of the game is the youkai form. Since the hero is not only a demon hunter, but also a half-demon himself, the help of guardian spirits is now useless for him: he can simply turn into a horned monster. True, not for long. In the first part, the “live weapon” was too powerful, so the youkai form that came to replace him was well cut. Now it is more a tool for emergency situations than a golden hammer for nails of all sizes.
Another innovation is the crushing blows that Team Ninja did not hesitate to spy on in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Well, when the enemy is preparing some special attack and threateningly flickers red. But only in Sekiro different attacks required specific actions like jumping over sweeps, and in Nioh 2 it’s quite easy to react in time. And this, in general, is not always necessary – the usual block is often enough. Just if you dare to substitute, then, if successful, stun the enemy for a couple of seconds. Sometimes it helps a lot, especially in boss battles, but otherwise … It’s debatable. The reward is hardly worth the risk.
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Collecting the soul shards of fallen demons – greetings from Castlevania and recent Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Killed youkai regularly leave behind their “hearts”, and they open up access to their crown ability, whether it be a paralyzing look or a swing with a giant cleaver. In addition, the fragments, like the guardian spirits, have their own passive properties, so that their combination can be optimized for a long time – in theory, and is infinite at all. But, alas, here the game often throws from one extreme to the other – the abilities turned out not to be too balanced. They are either incredibly useful or not needed at all. Therefore, as soon as you find an effective bunch, the desire to experiment will immediately disappear. I put on a brand new splinter, looked at what he was doing, and put it in a long drawer – or sprayed it onto the components for forging weapons.
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Unforgivable spell

The flexibility and depth of the combat system work so well for one simple reason: Nioh 2 really challenges. She does not regret and does not play along. She is just waiting for the moment when the player gaps to cling to his throat. From death you are always separated by a maximum of two missed attacks – or one, if you are not lucky at all. Even one of the first enemies in the game can literally bite your head off.

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And that’s great. Cool that Nioh 2 is not shy of its complexity and is not afraid to push away part of the audience – in the modern industry this is worthy of respect. However, there is an invisible trait that separates “good” complexity from “bad”, and a fair test – from Chinese water torture. Team Ninja crosses that line many times. And with such regularity that the pleasure of playing smoothly gives way to annoyance.
In short, authors escalate complexity in two ways: using traps and the number of enemies. The methods themselves are not bad, but the studio abuses them. First of all, battles are regularly held either in a tight arena, where there is no room for maneuvers, or under the fire of shooters who are seated somewhere at a distance. There are also more old-fashioned tricks: for example, enemies hidden under the ceiling or on trees, where the angle of the camera does not allow them to be noticed by their side vision. Typically, these tricks work once – but Team Ninja uses them all the time, and therefore the pace of the game sags. As a result, sometimes you don’t go through the levels, but sneak around them like in a minefield, fearfully looking around every corner so that you don’t suddenly step on the right script.

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The second way is the number of enemies. In the sequel there are much more massacres than in the original. Still, one adversary, even a very dangerous one, can quickly lose stamina and seize the initiative in battle. Therefore, here you are often thrown cannon fodder from all sides, and in waves. They dealt with one – the next one immediately appears. The funny thing is that the developers themselves realized how bad this idea is, and therefore, in many missions they give you NPC partners to distract opponents at least a little.
In an extreme case, of course, you can call the phantom of another player, as in Dark Souls – for this, even the Internet is not needed. But the problem is not in complexity, but in the uniformity of situations. Nioh 2 ceases to amaze in ten hours – she has nothing physically. After completing the first chapter, you will already know all the tricks of the game: then game designers simply shuffle sets of opponents so that you do not dislocate the jaw from yawning. And there are not so many sets in general. Almost the entire bestiary of demons moved to the sequel from the first part, and new youkai are introduced into the game extremely slowly – they can be counted on the fingers without jokes. Even some bosses are simply copied from a project of three years ago. And no matter how the fans may rejoice at their old acquaintances, they give it all by self-repetition – the franchise is not yet so old as to quote itself.

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Technically, Nioh 2 has more content than the original, but the game runs out much faster – despite the fact that it is designed for several walkthroughs. In theory, the gameplay itself should tighten, with all its nuances and room for pumping. And he would drag out …
If we did not do exactly the same in the first part.
It turns out a sad paradox. The continuation was done for fans of the previous game, who cut youkai hundreds of hours away, but for beginners it will certainly be liked much more. Just because for them everything will be new – even the well-forgotten old.


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