The most difficult game in the world? Action RPG test

"Damn it! I've died again!" This phrase has only existed since video games existed and you will likely use it often when playing Nioh 2. Because you will die, die and die again. If the predecessor was already frustratingly difficult in some places, Nioh 2 puts it a step further.

In our test, you will find out why it is worth playing Souls-Like in old Japan anyway.

History lesson with imagination

Despite its name, Nioh 2 is a prequel to its predecessor. We embody a half demon at the time of the warring empires in the 16th century. Oda Nobunaga, one of the greatest warlords in Japan, united the entire country for the first time and with great bloodshed. We accompany him as one of his vassals through medieval Kanto and take part in all important stages of his life and even beyond.

The fact that our mother is a demon (called Yokai in Japanese folklore) only disturbs very few members of our followers. Yokai were portrayed as profoundly evil in Nioh. In the successor we learn, however, that there are also good-natured Yokai who help people or just want to be left alone.

The demon Sunekosuri basks on the stairs.

Sunekosuri is a spherical cat demon. When he's not sleeping, he rolls after us and helps us in the fight.

Source: PC Games

We especially loved a little cat-like demon. Sunekosuri is a fluffy fur ball that we often find in missions. If we speak to him, he will help us against our adversaries for a limited time and will happily roll after us. Other yokai often have a sad background story that explains how they have become the hideous beings that we now have to fight. We come across Mumyo quite early in history, who has been trained throughout her life to track down and kill Yokai. Of course, she is particularly skeptical of us as a half-demon.

Mumyo with protagonist

Mumyo comes from the Sohaya people, who are trained throughout their lives to kill Yokai.

Source: PC Games

We also meet the traveling dealer Tokichiro, who is cheating lively and intelligently through life. With almost every mission we gather new companions around us, which are held together by the charismatic leader Oda Nobunaga. Each character has their own story, which is sometimes told through the numerous side missions. Some people are already known from Nioh. In the prequel we now experience their mostly tragic history, which means that many figures gain depth. The game moves along historical events, provides us with a little background knowledge and garnishes the whole thing with neat fantastic folklore. Of course, the 16th century samurai did not collect the ominous ghost stones that gave them gigantic power.

The misuse of the stones did not turn them into huge monsters, which we then have to face in the game. Nevertheless, the mix of history and hackneyed fantasy is quite entertaining. Later in the game, the flock of young samurai is put to the test, tragic events pile up, but of course we don't want to spoil it. The story really picks up again from the second half of the game. We can follow the story set in cutscenes in English and in the Japanese original, with German subtitles.

Woman in shino armor

We can freely design our character in the editor. However, he does not speak in cutscenes.

Source: PC Games

What is it in Nioh 2 (buy now) but really going is like in any good soul-like gameplay. Nioh 2 extends the feature flood from its predecessor by further aspects. First of all, we build our samurai in the character editor. In the predecessor we played the Irish navigator William, now we can freely decide how we look in the game. Male or female, darker skin, tattoos, high cheekbones and much much more: The editor is extensive and we can even edit our appearance in Yokai form. Once you have defined our appearance, it is not set in stone. We make adjustments to our character's appearance at all times.

Gunner with a shotgun

With ranged weapons, we gain an advantage when fighting with multiple opponents.

Source: PC Games

Just like in the predecessor, we level up through the points collected in Nioh Amrita. The values ​​constitution, heart, courage, endurance, strength, ability, dexterity and magic increase our health, Ki (more on that in a moment) and the damage with different weapon types. They also increase our defense, our maximum equipment weight, and various elemental resistances. Skill and magic also increase the slots of our ninja and magic skills. We need more Amrita for each level increase. All of this is typical of the genre and works well.

Being yokai is not difficult. Fight against Yokais very much!

Yokai eats the protagonist's head

Damn! Here a yokai caught us with his gripping attack and cheerfully sucks us on the head.

Source: PC Games

Fighting is extremely action-packed with evasive roles, weak and strong attacks, and the ability to block attacks. Each of these actions nibbles on our endurance bar, which is called 2 Ki in Nioh. If we run out of ki, we are particularly vulnerable to attacks. Our opponents are subject to the same system, so we try to reduce their endurance as quickly as possible in order to then carry out penetrating attacks. These are usually staged particularly brutally, Nioh 2 is not for children's eyes. Heads and limbs fly through the area like camels at the Cologne Carnival. The balancing attacks that are announced with a red flash are new. We should counter them as quickly as possible with the new counterattack, because if an enemy hits us with this violent attack, we tip out of the pines particularly quickly. However, if we can counterattack at the right moment, we will extremely decimate the adversary's ki. Each type of opponent has its own balancing attack, which we have to memorize over time.

Tokichiro helps us as a demon

We meet Tokichiro at the beginning of the story. He helps us even though we are a half demon.

Source: PC Games

The guardian spirits from the first part are again part of the game and are now divided into three different classes, and all have special counter balances. Collected Amrita also fills the special attack of our mind, with which we transform ourselves into a demon. In this form, our health and Ki are summarized in a bar, which makes us virtually invulnerable for a short time. We also hit a lot harder with elemental damage, and we look damn cool. We can still switch between the three fighting stances (high, low and medium). Depending on our attitude, we are faster, block more effectively or do more damage. New combos that we unlock via talent trees are often only available for a special combat stance and a special weapon type. This kills newcomers in the beginning, but is extremely refreshing in the later game, because we can strongly individualize our fighting style depending on the weapon, posture and skills.

Who is the defiler here?

Monochrome optics in the tainted area.

We regenerate our ki more slowly in the tainted area. Opponents strike harder.

Source: PC Games

The tainted areas are new, in which the game world appears in a monochrome look. In this yokai world, we regenerate ki more slowly and opponents are stronger. However, we can free the game world from this by locating the demon responsible for tainting. We recognize him by the fact that music sets in when we fight him. These yokai are a little stronger than their peers, but it is worth stopping them. If we clean the tainted area, we often uncover a shortcut or discover boxes and shrines.

In addition, after our death, no new enemies appear in the cleaned area, even if we rest at a shrine. Bosses use the dark Yokai world as well, but in a different way: if we manage to zero the ki of a Yokai boss, he switches to the tainted realm, which changes his attacks: For example, he gets faster, shoots more projectiles or just does more damage. Therefore, try as quickly as possible to empty the boss's Ki bar again so that he changes back to the normal world.

Dam as an abbreviation

We often unlock shortcuts during a mission.

Source: PC Games

The game is divided into main and side missions, which we can select from a map of medieval Japan. To progress in the story, we have to complete the main missions. Side missions ensure that we are not underleveled, so you should take them with you wherever possible. However, for most side quests, areas from previous main missions are recycled, which we then run in a different direction and with other opponents. We rarely see completely new areas, sometimes even areas from the first Nioh were warmed up. The main missions are all the better designed for that. Different paths, shortcuts, battles on high mountain peaks and in old villages, on rice fields, snowy plains, bloody battlefields and burning castles: Team Ninja stages the samurai adventure bombastic. There is also an epic soundtrack that not only makes the heart beat faster in boss fights. However, Nioh 2 never makes it easy for the player, so you should take every opportunity to improve your character. And there are some of them.

Drowned in the flood of items and features

Weapons, armor and more.

In Nioh 2 you are thrown back with equipment. We often spend several minutes in inventory.

Source: PC Games

The item flood and the largely randomly generated equipment are known from the predecessor. We can carry two different melee and ranged weapons at any time in the quick selection with us. There are again the classic two-handed katana swords, their one-handed variants, of which we can carry two at the same time, spears, gigantic axes and odachis, nimble battle hatchets, the tonfas known from martial arts films, the chain-hanging kusarigamas, bows, striking Shotguns and explosive hand cannons. New is the Glefe, which can be folded in and out depending on the fighting stance. All melee weapons have their own skill trees, in which we learn new attacks and combos or passive skills. But the weapons also want to be used for this, because only if we use the respective genre in combat do we get new points. Some weapons have special enchantments (like lightning or fire damage), or even speak to us because they are possessed by a yokai!

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