Finding a game that offers an optimal Souls-like taste is not an easy job. In order to pursue the same level of quality as what From Software has successfully achieved in the Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro series, the developer who is interested in plunging into the same space needs to prepare many things. He does not only have to build a world that is attractive in terms of design to see and explore, but also ensure the level of difficulty which is the main attraction, but fair and balanced. The point is to make the impression that every death that occurs, is triggered by the negligence of gamers, and not because of a bad boss, enemy, or arena design. The one who did it? Of course the NIOH from Koei Tecmo.
As well as complimenting the quality of its stunning visuals, especially for the character models, the NIOH 2 also comes with the basic mechanics and traction it retains from the first series. New things are now being brought up by the fact that the main character is positioned as a half Yokai character, who can now also access this ability to execute enemy Burst counter attacks or simply trigger the latest resource-based special attacks. It also comes with cooperative multiplayer which of course, is the best solution for those who struggle.
So, what does NIOH 2 offer? Why do we call it a series that is much friendlier? This review will discuss it more deeply for you.
Apart from the number “2” embedded in the back of his name, NIOH 2 is positioned as a prequel series to William’s adventures which became the focus of the story in the first series. You take on the role of your own concoction character, born as a marriage between an ordinary human and a Yokai. You don’t remember much from your past memories, other than the fact that your parents’ lives were taken away from you and you were armed with a special knife capable of taking out the Yokai.
On your way to hunting down the Yokai, you meet someone who will grow to be your best friend – Tokichiro. On a mission to hunt Spirit Stones, you and Tokichiro decide to go home together. A journey that made them not only have to deal with creepy Yokai varieties, but also meet a legendary figure – Nobunaga Oda who at that time, wanted to unite Japan. Continuing to struggle under Nobunaga’s banner, you and Tokichiro decide to take an oath of friendship, standing under one similar name. Tokichiro took the name Hideyoshi and you took the name Yoshide.
However, as can be predicted, the journey to unify Japan (whose names and roles are adapted to the history of Japan) will certainly not be easy. There was a dark force at work behind the scenes, which began to infiltrate the ranks of the knights who were standing under Nobunaga’s flag. Slowly but surely, this dark force began to reveal its true identity. So it is your responsibility not only to fight for the ambition to unite Japan, but to “save” them from threats they never knew before. The same power that turns out to be connected to your family and your past.
So, can your main character fight this mysterious power? Can he help Nobunaga to fulfill his ambition? So, how does the story of your avatar character intersect with William’s action in the previous Nioh series? You will of course have to play NIOH 2 to get the answers to these questions.
You – the Demon Hunter
Moving from a predetermined protagonist character to a story that now accommodates whoever the character you mix is, of course, a relatively radical decision. From a visual point of view, Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja now have to make sure that whatever characters are formulated by the fans, they can be integrated into the cut-scenes that are presented, both from just physical appearance, animation, identity (considering you can use any name), to the cosmetic item side, considering that the equipment changes you present also affect the appearance of the character. The good news? They executed this thing sweetly. As a replacement? The process of concocting the characters may not be as crazy as other games that come with a similar concept.
If there is one thing we like about the NIOH 2 when it comes to the presentation side, then the monster design you’re facing is likely to be in a higher position. Most of the human enemies you will find come with supposedly Japanese feudal era armor, weapons, and gear, with a bit of a fantasy element on top. But what is fantastic actually comes from the designs of the Yokai that are present both as enemies that you have to kill, but also those you can recruit as your Guardian Spirit. Many of these Yokai designs did appear in the first series, but not a few of them came for the first time in this second series. Some of the Guardian Spirits designs are pleasing to the eye, sharing a few humanoid elements on top of the animal concept they are based on. You’ll also encounter several yokai, especially in boss fights, who are ready to make you feel threatened and awe at the same time.
Unfortunately, the world itself is not that interesting compared to the Yokai designs and characters you encounter. Since it is rooted in true Japanese history, this limitation should be seen as rational. But often, there is a strong desire for him to start doing things as crazy as Sekiro, where there are so many vertical and horizontal areas that are more than just forests or castles. Of all the worlds that NIOH 2 has to offer, only two places have the chance to wow us. A rice field with dramatic backdrops and interim sunsets – a world between life and death that feels serene and dramatic. The rest? Areas full of burning fires, forests, castles and more wooden planks. Drab.
Fortunately, in terms of audio, NIOH 2 manages to look stunning. We ourselves highly recommend that you enjoy it by using a Japanese VA for a true Japanese feudal taste. They do a great job of bringing these characters to life, although it’s a shame that your main character is positioned as a muted character who doesn’t speak throughout the story. While on the music front, it doesn’t seem dominant and memorable enough to end up on your Spotify playlist, but it’s effective enough to build the atmosphere needed to make the battlefield you have to live in, all the more epic.
So from the presentation side, NIOH 2 did a good job. Compared to the first series, it must be admitted that it comes with better visualization, especially in terms of how to facilitate the characters you mix in the cut-scenes. For those of you who play it on the Playstation 4 PRO, you will also be given three visual options – visuals first, resolution first, and framerate first for comfortable playing.
First Nioh Formula As A Base
The NIOH 2 keeps everything you loved about the first NIOH as a base for gaming. For those of you who are not too familiar with this series, it is still a Souls-like game which, with its genre name, seems to have built expectations of what kind of experience you will get. This is a high-difficulty game that leaves very little space for errors. This means you will be killed by just a few enemy attacks, you need to do the exploration process to open a closed area which is usually rewarded with closer access to the Shrine (bonfire style in Souls), and of course boss fights that are ready to make you feel anger and frustration builds up. NIOH 2 still offers all of these things at their very basics.
So like the first NIOH, NIOH 2 also comes with a similar gameplay uniqueness. For those of you who are not too familiar, NIOH comes with two systems that are not in the other Souls-like series. First, is the stance. That for each weapon that can be used by the main character, you can use one of the three available stances – Low, Medium, and High. High means big damage, the effect of draining the enemy’s Ki when the block is higher, the consumption of Ki (Stamina) is greater, and the motion is slower. While Low is on the opposite side with Medium as the middle man. Other systems come from a loot system that is more similar to Diablo. That instead of being limited to just one or two guns just now, you’ll find tons of weapons, armor, and accessories falling from enemies you defeat in random conditions. Each of them comes with a different rarity level, which also affects what kind of status and buff you get.
One of the fantastic things about the NIOH and preserved in NIOH 2 is the freedom to build your own play style. With a level system containing attribute points that can be distributed according to your needs, each of which will affect the status and effectiveness of certain weapons, you have many options to develop your most comfortable playing style. Do you want to play with just physical strength? Of course, I can. Do you want to apply a little extra Magic for buffs and status effects to enemies who want to make your trip easier? Why not. Do you want to be more resilient and slash the enemy’s HP bar slowly but surely? These options can be considered. What’s cool again? Your effectiveness for each weapon and magic will depend on how often you use it. The more you use it, the higher the efficiency, the more area of the skill tree you have access to.
The rest of the battle, like any other Souls-like series, is to try to survive by reading the enemy’s movements while “stealing” attack opportunities here and there. Like the matter of character building, this game system also brings many alternative solutions to problems before your eyes. If you are confident, you can use the Sekiro-style parry system with narrower timing for extra chance to counterattack. If you’re safer with the Souls flavor, the option to roll here and there to dodge attacks is also available. In addition to attacking in the name of direct damage to the HP bar, you will also injure the enemy’s Ki bar which means that their activity is more limited. If their Ki bar is depleted, they will fall into a stun status which you can now execute with Final Blow for extra big damage. But remember, the same conditions apply to you.
Roll or block? Up to you.
Extra, another thing you need to do to win the battle in NIOH 2, is to develop a strategy that you consider effective to overcome the threat that exists. Apart from physical attacks, you can also access elemental-based attacks which, if properly cultivated, will produce certain status effects for the enemy, which fortunately, the bosses are no exception. Like the strategy in the first NIOH, using “Sloth” magic which will significantly slow down all enemy movement animations that can be combined with Water magic (increases the damage received) and Lightning (slows down motion) is still the most capable strategy to overcome all existing enemies. , including boss fights. You don’t have to apply this strategy, but in our eyes, it will make the NIOH 2 difficulty level decrease significantly.
One of the other fantastic things about NIOH 2 is how it facilitates almost anything you need, so grinding is never a necessity. We are talking about the Equipment system for example. You have plenty of opportunities to modify the weapons you get – from leveling up your old weapon to match the level of a new weapon via a feature called Soul Forge, from modifying its appearance while maintaining the status it carries, to changing certain buff characteristics using the Temper feature. The many options for achieving this are also available in other aspects, for example by exchanging the amount of equipment you loot for a large number of Amrita (Souls) to level up to destroy weapons for materials and craft your own weapons. In essence, NIOH 2 provides room to ensure you have more options to “define” and “build” your weapon and equipment without having to rely solely on RNGs.
So the last one is the concept of “GIT GUD” which remains the essence of every Souls-like series, which in NIOH 2 still feels balanced. The need to read strategy and adjust attack timing will depend largely on the type of enemy you are fighting – which can be divided into two broad categories, Yokai and Human. Patience is the key and negligence will be a source of great risk that will lead to death, over and over again. But like the Souls series, the more you die, as long as you learn from your mistakes, the next fight will get a little easier. Little in a sense, really a little. But take it easy, there are other extra features that make NIOH 2 more tolerable.
Now with Yokai Power
One of the new mechanics offered by NIOH 2 also comes from the fact that the main character is now half Yokai. Not only is it present in the side of the story, this lore gives NIOH 2 the opportunity to offer a new gameplay mechanic which fortunately makes this difficulty level much more tolerable. So true. You can now use Yokai’s own power with a new resource called Anima.
Anima appears as a purple bar which will now appear below your Ki bar. If you look closely, it is divided into smaller blocks, each of which can be counted as its own Anima unit. What does it do? Accommodating the new features we talked about earlier, Anima is a resource for accessing new attacks known as Yokai Skills. You can see it as a special attack that is not just a matter of greater damage, but also sometimes presents certain effects in terms of status, from elemental attacks to those capable of producing effects such as Poison or Paralyze. Each Yokai Skills will require a different amount of Anima. The good news? Anima can also recover through the various actions you take, from being attacked, attacking, to executing Fatal Blow. There are also many weapons and equipment that come with buffs to speed up or make it easier for you to get Anima.
Through this new system, NIOH 2 introduced the Soul Core – a simple item that allows you to access certain Yokai Skills. Soul Cores will fall from any enemy variant in the RNG format (especially for normal enemies, considering that some bosses will definitely drop Soul Core) and allow you to access attacks identical to the Yokai that dropped them. The number of Yokai Skills you can carry and access is limited to the limits of the Guardian Spirits you choose to base your Yokai power on. If the amount of limitation is large enough, you can just bring 3 different Yokai Skills, which can provide active attacks or passive buffs. It will also carry a buff row on the status of the character you are using. Remember, Souls Core also appears like a loot weapon, which means that each of them can come with different levels and buffs, even with fixed attack animations. As well as weapon loots, there are many opportunities to strengthen them, especially through the “Soul Merge” feature which is now available at Shrine.
Why do we say that the presence of Souls Core and Yokai Skills makes the difficulty level of NIOH 2 more tolerable? Simple, because most of the Yokai Skills present are positioned as AOE attacks with great damage that you cannot possibly execute with just ordinary weapon attacks. The amount of damage, the attack animation that sometimes makes your movement faster, and the large area effect makes it more effective to finish off the enemies that come at once. You can call it a balance and a solution when the fighting situation isn’t in your favor. Especially during this Yokai Skills attack animation, your Ki regeneration process also continues, until there is an opportunity to continue with regular attacks or roll dodge if you are in a difficult situation.
The presence of this half Yokai system also comes with a new mechanism called the Burst Counter. If in the first Nioh series, the enemy attack animation which is red means a more deadly attack that requires you to dodge or block, NIOH 2 now allows you to provide a separate response. Through the Burst Counter feature, you can cancel the red attacks of the enemies and the boss, injure their Ki / Anima count to access the Fatal Blow which is getting closer, and sometimes make them pause to insert one or two attacks. The presence of this Burst Counter opens a big door for a more aggressive style of play because there is no need to roll when this situation occurs.
Being present as a half-human Yokai also allows the main character to fully transform as a Yokai once the transformation bar is present, full. You can transform into three different types of Yokai – Brute, Feral, and Phantom which each offer different attack styles and approaches when triggered. But the concept itself is predictable. When it changes to Yokai, your attack cannot be staggered, your HP bar will be separated from the main HP bar which, if injured simply shortens the transformation period, and has the opportunity to perform attacks that injure enemy Ki / Anima. Who was even friendlier? Even though he will fall along with your Amrita (Souls) when you die, as long as you don’t die once again with the consequences of Amrita being lost, this Yokai bar will still be filled as before. This means, if you have trouble fighting one boss and keep dying, you also have the opportunity to “save” this Yokai transformation bar a higher chance of winning in subsequent battles. But remember, provided you don’t die again.
Of course with all these added strengths, Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja also have to work hard to make the balancing process better. In addition to several types of bosses that can also transform into Yokai forms ready to inflict more damage, they can now also trigger something called “Yokai World”. Described as a black and white world, Yokai World will limit your Ki regeneration, which makes continuous attacks now a higher risk. However, just like the name he carries, he also provides extra benefits for several Yokai-based attacks, from increasing Yokai Skills damage to more effective transformations depending on the embedded buff. Not only does it happen when fighting bosses whose Yokai World you can’t handle other than giving this phase away, Yokai World sometimes invades some of the locations you are currently exploring. Killing the Yokai that is the “source” will clean this Yokai World.
So with this new system, especially the presence of Yokai Skills which promises big damage in a large area, NIOH 2 provides extra convenience to handle its high difficulty level. You are now at least given an extra solution if you are in a state of urgency or just want to clean up a specific type of enemy that can make your battle conditions unfavorable. If these additional mechanics still don’t make your trip easier, the NIOH 2 has another extra solution!
When Nioh first hit the market, it came up with a unique system called Grave. That instead of being like the Souls series which usually only shows how other players died in the same area, you can interact with Bloody Grave and fight directly with other Revenant users. Controlled by the AI, you will get one of the equipment they are wearing if you manage to win.
NIOH 2 also still carries the same system. But it’s no longer just an antagonistic Bloody Grave, it now offers a new system called Benevolent Grave whose concept is a cooperative mode. That the blue sword stuck in the ground will summon any user who leaves it, giving birth to an avatar with the same equipment and status, fully controlled by the AI, to aid your journey. This AI from Benevolent Grave will accompany you until a certain time limit until it will automatically withdraw or until they die at the hands of any enemy you are fighting. You can summon only one Benevolent Grave at a time.
The AI that each Benevolent Grave brings you is not exactly perfect and special. There are many situations in which they are less aggressive or less adaptive to the current battle situation. But the good news is, you can always take advantage of them for one thing – a helper. You can always make these AIs the target of enemy attacks, especially during boss fights or battles that involve multiple enemies at once. This will make your position safer, make it easier for you to attack or simply apply whatever magic is important to your character. The cool thing is, these AIs also quite often apply Magic / Ninjutsu that has been determined by their users, so they can end up buffing or de-buffing which of course benefits you in the end.
If this Benevolent Grave is not enough to lower the NIOH 2 difficulty level for you, it now also comes with a cooperative multiplayer feature! That’s right, you don’t have to fight alone, you can invite at least 2 other users via an internet connection to help you fight. The synchronization process also goes quite fantastic, considering that from our overall experience trying it, movement delay for example, has never been an essential problem for him.
What’s cool again? Gamers who enter into another gamer world, will not be able to interact with various key objects to trigger progress. This meant they couldn’t open the chest by themselves, open the door to the next area, or fight the boss without being triggered by the “host”. Such a system allows the host to continue to enjoy the game at his own pace and will never be faced with the risk of having an “incomplete” playing experience due to guest users moving too fast in the name of familiarity. Both the Benevolent Grave and the Visitor system use a resource called the Ochoko Cup, which you can get in the exploration process or when you help other gamers as a Visitor.
The online game meta system from the first series – Clan Battles is also still present in NIOH 2, where gamers will join in a specific clan which usually provides certain buffs and contributes to each other to create a clan divided into two big camps – White and Red. to subdue each other. This will make the winner get a certain reward. The location feature called “Hidden Teahouse” also allows you to collect teacup variants that can strengthen your status in the exploration process, such as the possibility to get rarer items.
With the presence of this extra aid, the difficulty level of NIOH 2, which has been made easier by the presence of Yokai Skills, is now even friendlier. Koei Tecmo seems to understand that for the extra anti-frustration that gamers need, this option will be a great solution. But of course, there’s a balancing process here. The presence of Benevolent Grave or Visitor will also make enemies stronger a little, making their attacks more deadly if they are at your level. However, this increase is not necessarily so significant that the presence of extra assistance will actually put you in a detrimental condition.
NIOH 2 remains an absolutely fantastic Souls-like game. Those who understand and love the feeling of being tortured in Souls-like games will fall in love with what this game has to offer, the different mechanics it carries, the looting system full of weapon variants, and also challenges that are ready to destroy the spirit of life. NIOH 2 is a solid action RPG game that you won’t want to miss.
A series that understands what made the previous series so loved, but now comes with an extra mechanic that feels refreshing while making the difficulty level much more tolerable, this might be the right sentence to explain what Koei Tecmo achieved with NIOH 2. There is an extra appreciation. to not only improve the quality of the visualization that he carries, but also to ensure that all these new mechanics still end up satisfying and balanced. We ourselves love how they provide almost every option to make sure you can “mix” the weapon you want instead of just praying to “God of RNG” to get it. The combination of all these elements is a satisfying Souls-like game, from the difficulty level, the story, to the various refreshing mechanics that it carries.
But unfortunately, NIOH 2 itself is not exactly perfect. Apart from the settings that we feel a little “bland” which makes the world of NIOH 2 look unattractive or AI Benevolent Grave which is sometimes not adaptive to the battle situations that arise, we also have to highlight its inventory system which is sometimes, really ready to make your eyes sick. We’re talking about a game with a loot system that can make you end up hoarding hundreds of weapons and equipment that you can dismantle and install. It does provide “sort” options based on certain categories, but using an inventory screen like this is not exactly intuitive. As an example? Trying to change weapons from the equipment screen, for example, doesn’t allow you to directly select it from the variant category, and instead faces a screen extending downward. Koei Tecmo needs to think further about this inventory UI.
Of course, despite these drawbacks, NIOH 2 remains a truly fantastic Souls-like game. Those who understand and love the feeling of being tortured in Souls-like games will fall in love with what this game has to offer, the different mechanics it carries, the looting system full of weapon variants, and also challenges that are ready to destroy the spirit of life. NIOH 2 is a solid action RPG game that you won’t want to miss.