A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
This game glorifies and strives to entertain with bloody, gory melee combat. Themes of good and evil, honor, and duty run through the story. The extreme challenge of the combat suggests that a task can be more satisfying and mentally rewarding if it's harder to accomplish.
Positive Role Models
The customizable protagonist (players can choose gender and skin color) is half human, half demon, but fights on the side of good and helps those in need. But his or her only means of solving problems seems to be through vicious violence.
Ease of Play
This is an extremely challenging game with an incredibly steep learning curve and no option to alter difficulty level. Combat's unforgiving, with even the weakest enemies capable of killing the protagonist with a couple of blows after a strategic mistake. Fighting styles are multifaceted and require a good deal of analysis, understanding, and practice to master.
Violence & Scariness
Viewed from an over-the-shoulder perspective, players take part in bloody medieval-style combat using a variety of bladed weapons, bows and arrows, and ancient guns, sometimes augmented by magical abilities. Attacks are vicious and visceral, with arms and heads frequently lopped off to roll around on the ground. Gushes of red blood accompany every hit, spattering the environment. Screams of anger and anguish are heard throughout.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some female characters -- including the heroine, when in demon form -- appear nearly nude on top. The only things covering their breasts are rough-edged magical growths.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Nioh 2 is an action role-playing game exclusively for the PlayStation 4. The game puts players in the armor of a customizable (players can choose gender and skin color) 16th century Japanese warrior who's also part demon. The protagonist travels to various areas around the country overrun with yokai demons, fighting them to help others and complete various missions. Combat's bloody, gory, and brutal, involving medieval-style weapons, bows and arrows, firearms, and magic. Bodies are dismembered and heads get lopped off in sprays of crimson, with blood spattering the environment. Parents should also know this is an exceptionally challenging game that could lead to frustration in some players, though those who stick with it are bound to feel the satisfaction and reward of accomplishing difficult feats. Note, too, that some female characters -- including the heroine when in demon form -- appear nearly topless, with nothing but rugged magical growths covering their breasts.
Is It Any Good?
Those easily thwarted by challenge need not bother with this one, but players searching for a skill-based action game that rewards strategy and perseverance might find a little slice of heaven. Nioh 2 is another entry in a genre that's devilishly difficult. This type of action role-playing game punishes players for every little mistake they make and then adds insult to injury by taking away earned experience when players die. Among the hallmarks of these games is they force players to invest time in mastering combat mechanics and analyzing enemy actions, encourage them to learn from their mistakes, and ultimately bestow a deep sense of satisfaction when they finally manage to overcome a particularly challenging boss or obstacle.
All of this is true of Nioh 2, but it amps up the challenge in a couple of ways, beginning with an extraordinarily steep learning curve bound to leave many players flummoxed as early as the second enemy they encounter. (Hint: just run past this monster and come back later -- much later). The second aspect of the experience that some players will struggle with is the complexity of combat and character gear. Players will need to learn how to use a huge variety of weapons, each with their own pros and cons. They also have to master a variety of fighting styles, each with their own combos and abilities, while also switching between low, mid, and high stances depending the situation. Plus, there's the added task learning how to use demon abilities, how to clear pockets of energy-sucking darkness that can severely limit your attack prowess, and how to survive dark realm areas filled with even hardier enemies. All this, and players will also be confronted with a seemingly endless array of usable items the exact purposes of which must be riddled out and tested in order to properly exploit. Thankfully, plenty of tutorials exist to help you learn the game's multifaceted systems, and you can call on help from other players when you're really stuck. And learning to use ranged weapons -- which are surprisingly powerful for this sort of game -- can also prove very useful. Take heart, as well, in the fact that after the frightfully challenging first level, you'll likely begin to progress a bit faster. There's precious little to criticize here for those who like these sorts of games, but make no mistake, Nioh 2 isn't for the faint of heart or those easily discouraged.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.