Nioh 2: Darkness in the Capital has a tragically simple and uninspired name, which is just as well because the content in this second outing of DLC is about the same. I’m going to sound like a spoiled brat here because, yes, I did have fun with the new DLC, but was it up to the standard of the core game or first DLC? No. In fact, it felt rushed, though it contains solid new enemies and some of the most intense boss battles of the entire game.
…it felt like eating chips rather than an exquisite slice of cake that had been labored over.
So what am I griping about? Well, while Nioh 2 isn’t exactly known for its gripping narrative or storytelling, the sense of atmosphere and place are defining qualities. What made the first DLC fantastic was its well-constructed stages with interesting, divergent paths, unique locations, and nuanced flow in terms of difficulty and skill progression. Each enemy seemed thoughtfully placed, and the DLC ramped up expectations in a way that was both satisfying and engrossing. Not so here.
From the outset, some of the harshest enemies appear immediately, lazily placed in front of the player in what feels like hallways that are just rehashes of previous stages. Some of the new enemies are visually incredible and boast some fascinating new moves, but others are boring and kind of just…there. For those looking for a thrilling game of hide and seek with the kodama, many are waiting inside boxes. So unless you’re willing to strike or roll through every fragile pile of crates, you’re going to miss some. Which is fine because the game isn’t about kodama, but it’s a further indication of the lazy design in Nioh 2‘s second expansion.
What’s good, though? Well, the bosses are outstanding and once again demand prudent customization from the player. The attack patterns are brutal, and a few times I felt like I was stunlocked into submission, which is a no-no; however, the overall design kept me wide-eyed and literally at the edge of my seat, leaning in with my mouth probably agape.
I worry that the developers have run out of ideas. This is the second of three pieces of DLC, because someone in corporate said they needed three DLC expansions to squeeze money out of players. Yes, I enjoyed the DLC, but it felt like eating chips rather than an exquisite slice of cake that had been labored over. I would recommend it to anyone who feels any inclination to get all of the DLC, simply because, what, you’re going to buy the first and third DLC, but not the second? If you’re thinking about whether or not you can wait, though — yeah, you can wait.