Game: Narita Boy
Platforms: PC, PS4 and PS5
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Reviewed on PC
After a year-long exclusivity with PlayStation Nioh 2 finally made its way to PC through Steam and, despite being known for its performance issues, the game has been patched since, and it’s in a much better shape overall (currently in its 1.27.2 version), so how is the game currently.
One of a kind in a genre filled with
Ever since the first Nioh, Koei Tecmo’s franchise has been known for being one of the best Souls-like games you can find outside of FromSoftware’s hands which is enough of a reason for fans of the genre to give it the benefit of the doubt and look forward to what it can offer, but its value goes beyond that. The problem with most games on the genre is that they fail to deliver the satisfactory feeling of a victory, or how engaging pulling a parry can be but, while most start and finish in copying Dark Souls core mechanics, Nioh takes its core structure and adds its own twists to the formula, stances, temporary but extremely useful Yokai Shifts, level-based progression and all of this supported with a wide skill tree that will constantly unblock new tricks for the weapons of your choice.
It’s not even necessary to beat the first Nioh to get into this one as it’s actually a prequel and not so tightly connected.
Your own adventure
Unlike the first Nioh, this time around, your adventure starts by creating your own character, a really deep customization system that gives the player the control even the most minimal detail in order to do make the ideal samurai from the looks, the kind of system where you are likely to spend your first hour in the game on. Over the progress of missions, you’ll meet many different characters that will guide you in your adventure and provide both main and side quests that offer different bonuses, a simple yet effective structure that benefits each area by making them more coherent as individual parts placed in a map more comparable to the likes of Demon’s Souls but more straightforward and properly separated by icons so you can leave the side stuff for later. The only downside here is the technical aspects. Even though the game is fully playable within menu options to cap it at 60 or 120 fps, the cutscenes rendered in real-time are still capped at 30fps, which is mildly distracting but nothing game-breaking.
Less infuriating, just as fulfilling
Nioh, and the Souls-like genre as a whole, is globally known for being a challenging experience that requires dedication, which makes Nioh 2’s decision of being less demanding superficially look like a wrong choice. The way in which this is accomplished is not by downgrading its enemy AI but rather giving the player more than enough options to feel more comfortable with their preferred weapons. Worry not. The single-player experience won’t be a walk through the park. Players with less patience to progress can now easily spend a special item found throughout the game in summoning higher-level users to aid them, be it to progress in a hard area or with boss fights, completely optional yet a nice compliment for those who just don’t find joy in constantly dying with no sign of improvement that can taint their experience.
An excellent port, but…
After many patches that have solved major issues related to its performance along the time, it still dips below the targeted framerate, which thankfully won’t lead to any unnecessary death screens even though there’s still room for improvement. It’s the latest patch, which was released just a couple of weeks ago at the time of this review, is a great sign of their commitment and just how much the team at Koei Tecmo cares about not making a perfectly balanced game an unfulfilling experience. Recommended with an SSD, in a game where you are very likely to die a lot, returning in a matter of seconds is quite a game-changing improvement.
Nioh 2 is an excellent game, filled with lots and varied content, which not only adds to the Souls-like genre while maintaining its personality as a franchise but also welcomes new players with its more friendly approach to its difficulty that doesn’t betray the ideals that made the genre such an eye-opener for the industry for both devs and players alike.
While its PC port still isn’t perfect, it’s polished enough to be beatable from beginning to end with no game-breaking issues.