Ninja Team just recently dropped the second of the three planned major DLC for the critically acclaimed Nioh 2. Does it offer enough to entice new players or keep its fans coming back for more Yokai slaying action? Let’s find out!

*This copy of the game was provided by PlayStation to FYIG for review purposes

Release Date October 15, 2020
Genre Action RPG (Souls-like)
Platforms PS4 & PS5
Developer Team Ninja
Price USD 10.00
ESRB Rating M for Mature
Players 1 Player + Online Play

 

Before I start I would like to get a few disclaimers out of the way – while I played Nioh 2 for a long time and gave it a great score in my initial review, I haven’t gotten the chance to follow up my playthrough with the other available DLC until now with Darkness in the Capitol. I’ve done some research to see how this one might compare to what it has to offer in contrast, but, for the most part, this review will be from fresh eyes and sore fingers as a stand-alone.

Any screenshots I will be using are from the beginning of the new material to allow a look at the new except without spoilers! I will touch upon the story slightly but will keep it veiled enough that if you do pick up the game you’ll be in store for some surprises. Also, since this is a DLC, It’s an entirely different beast when talking about recommending it to new and old players, so I’ll be trying out a new format just for DLC, let me know what you think in the comments below.

With that – Let’s get up and go yokai slaying.

The Old: Base Game

In my original review, I had the I lauded Nioh 2 for taking what was already the most formidable opponent to the souls series and iterating in a way that clicked with me even more so than some of From Software’s outing. Nioh 2, with its new additions of yokai forms, customizable characters, and parry systems, offered one of the most bursting experiences for anyone who wanted a little brutalism (and a little silliness) in their video game playing.

In short, Nioh 2 is proof that the souls-like genre has a firm place amongst the latest additions to the ever-expanding sub-genres of video games (shout out to my boy Rouge-lites) and this expansion plays perfectly into that strength. How does Darkness in the Capital add to that though?

The New: Darkness in the Capital

-Enemies-

Nioh 2’s approach to DLC is something that I find admirable (at least for its price point). Similar to many DLC of the type, Darkness takes you to a brand new game region. Rather than going the way of a Destiny, however, vanilla Nioh assets are tastefully used and even sparse at times. The most notable, at least to me, was what normally Could be a smaller thing to some is the addition of new mobs. From my count, there are around 4 new base enemies. These, like much of this DLC, take a welcome shift into a more spooky direction. A standout for me out of the new enemies is the Oboroguruma yokai. This cartoonishly freaky enemy takes the form of a normal-looking wagon up until the front where it has a face that stands probably eight feet tall with all white skin, long hair, horns, and a huge smile. The game also deftly uses regular wagons as a way to ramp tension and begin questioning all the mundane objects around you. It felt very similar to how 2017’s Prey’s mimics made you question things, except instead of getting a lackluster ball of tar you’re greeted with a surprise horror of a giant snarling face that will eat you whole.

Good luck not dreaming of this.

While I love talking about the ground troops Let’s get to what everyone wants to talk about when it comes to souls likes and that’s the bosses. If there is anything that I was slightly underwhelmed with it was the number of main bosses. The main bosses only offer three new fights with two of them being with the same fella – that isn’t to say they are any slouch though. Just like the new grunts, Team Ninja intricately designed these new bosses to feel very fresh and very detailed (not to mention sprinkling in the ability to truly make me eat my own teeth a few times). The only reason I’ve listed that as a disappointment is Sheryl just in my own expectation; Nioh 2 vanilla had such an extreme amount of content that I thought it might have hit with a bigger number. What there is though is of the highest quality, ranking within the upper tier of my favorite Nioh bosses (I hope that three-headed snake rots in hell) and more than worth its small price tag on that front. Where this lackluster number of new bosses is truly made up for is within the mini-bosses. Offering a good handful, Darkness in the Capital blends interactable nonplayer characters into that of the rival in such a seamless and beautiful way. I do love a good grand boss fight, but nothing feels more organic and satisfying to me than a scrappy fight with a character built with context.

-Combat-

What also matters is the new ways in which you can fight these baddies and with new guardian spirits, ninjutsu skills, scrolls, and even accessories. Truth be told I haven’t yet gotten to experiment with all of them, but what I have tampered with has been a lot of fun. A savage new addition to the arsenal is the new bladed gauntlet weapon. While the first DLC offered a new staff-like weapon, this time around it’s time to carve enemies up like Freddie for the fall season. I gave them a good try and was quite a fan as I love quick builts.

Nioh’s new wolverine claws for getting up close and maybe just a bit too personal.

-World-

Of course, all of these fights are taking place in a new battleground as well. On offer is a completely new region with three main mission areas that have a few sub-missions to go with them. As with the base game, these areas were a splendor to not only look at but to pick apart and find every little secret around the corner (oh please please please don’t be a face wagon). This mission structure deterred many people away from the series, as it felt like a large departure from the open architecture worlds of the original Dark Souls games. However, Nioh 2 Darkness in the Capital really still hits home for me on why this structure works so well for it. Not only can these areas be recontextualized, but are deceptively just as layered with secrets and replayability as its counterparts. The system may be different, but Nioh 2 has sought to make its departures a large plus.

On that note, I must talk a little about the story. The story and tone continue on the tradition of Nioh on being full of contrasting tones like silly and spooky to a great degree. On a grander scale, this story continues on the overarching ideas set forth from the base game. While very few people play Souls-likes for a story, Nioh has always set itself apart with a wholly unique tone and that is still very much on display.

A little look at some new map.

Conclusion

Is the Darkness in the Capital something that is going to change your mind on Nioh if you haven’t taken the plunge yet? I really don’t think so nor do I think it sets out to do that. What I do think though is that it is a no-brainer of a pick up if you did enjoy Nioh 2 in even a passing capacity. For around 10 to 15 dollars (depending on your region) it is jammed packed with enough new content and fresh new ideas that it just felt so fresh jumping back in this late after I stopped playing the base game. I may not have been able to jump into the first DLC when it came out – but you can bet I’ll be jumping into the third, regardless of a review copy or not.

To be honest, y’all, it’s just so nice to have some more sweet sweet masochism before Demon’s Souls drops

Pros Cons
Fresh content on all fronts Could have used more main bosses
Immaculate new designs Nothing enticing for new players
Just more of a great game  

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