The support for Nioh 2 continues with the second DLC proposed by Team Ninja for his game, between fearsome enemies and monstrous Yokai.
Two and a half months after the debut of Il Discipolo del Tengu, Team Ninja has just released Darkness in the capital, the second of the three DLCs included in the Nioh 2 Season Pass (find the review of Nioh 2). An adventure that, just like the previous one, will take us to travel back in time along a path strewn with corpses, victims of the horrendous machinations of the King of the Yokai. A gloomy presence that will soon manifest itself on our path, among the meshes of well-made content, which however reiterates the limits of a decidedly conservative development philosophy.
The broken peace
Darkness in the Capital takes us to the heart of the period Heian, an era of great cultural and artistic development often regarded as the apex of the ancient Japanese empire, then dominated – directly or in the shadows – by the powerful Fujiwara clan. The era of “peace” takes its name from that of the then capital Heian-kyo (today’s Kyoto), that is the setting chosen by Team Ninja for the new adventure “walking in time” of the brave half-demon Hide, dragged into the past to retrace the dark story of the fearsome Sohayamaru, the main antagonist of the game.
Almost six centuries after the first meeting between Hide and Tokichiro, in fact, the shadow of the cruel lord of the Yokai was already threatening to overwhelm the country with a dark tide of death and destruction, stemmed only by the courage of a few heroes ready to sacrifice their lives to protect humanity from darkness. This time at the center of the tasty mix of history and myth distilled by the Japanese team is there the figure of Minamoto no Yorimitsu (also known as Minamoto no Raiko), transformed for the occasion into a demon hunter as determined as she is charming.
At his side we find – in addition to our alter ego – the legendary wizard Abe no Seimei, one of the most iconic characters of Japanese folklore, who together with Yorimitsu has a prominent place among the pages of the famous epic novel Heike monogatari, used by the developer as a source of inspiration for some of the events told in the DLC. Events that, however, in spite of the intriguing premises of Obscurity in the Capital, go to compose an erratic and not particularly effective narrative mosaic, which treats every piece with superficiality and does not fail to run into some slight forcing to reconnect to the main timeline of the campaign.
In this sense, the second DLC of Nioh 2 is in line with the quality standards of both its predecessor and the base game, without any changes whatsoever also for what concerns the structure of the assignments, in the context of a content that clearly reaffirms the route conservative followed by Team Ninja.
Despite everything, however, the path marked by three main missions of the adventure (plus 7 secondary, for a total of about 5 hours of gameplay) proves once again able to offer the public a load of memorable challenges, capable of arousing in the hearts of fans jolts of pure bloody ecstasy. Reactions that counterbalance the clash of duels that are always tense and exciting, supported by a combat system that is both technical and visceral, which confirms Team Ninja’s talent for distinctly “hardcore” playful experiences.
In this regard, the new weapon introduced with Darkness in the Capital fits perfectly into the “martial goal” of production: the brass knuckles Tekko (with or without claws) allow you to overwhelm enemies with a wild barrage of close-range hits, to be ringed in long combos ideal for quickly consuming the opponent’s Ki and inflicting altered statuses. On the other hand, the skill trees of these phenomenal war gloves seem designed just for lengthen the duration of the attacks as much as possible, and to maximize damage during the most intense encounters. All without neglecting technicalities and counterattack tactics, which make the Tekko surprisingly versatile tools with all stances, even in the defensive and recovery phase. The dependence on the Strength stat also makes it the perfect weapon to accompany the slow and deadly Odachi, in order to further expand the flexibility of more “physical” builds.
In addition to being a blast on the battlefield, the Tekkos reminded us of the time spent grinding enemies with the “Talons of the Hawk” in Ninja Gaiden 3: a bittersweet reminiscence, being undoubtedly the worst chapter of the saga. Waiting to receive good news on the future of Ryu Hayabusa (it is rumored that Team Ninja may be working on the return of Ninja Gaiden), we can tell you that among the secondary bosses of Darkness in the Capital there is one that will surely delight lovers of the Team Ninja saga.
Nostalgia aside, the DLC offers a decent assortment of boss fights that will not fail to push you to the brink of eternal damnation, forcing you to carefully measure hits, dodges and parries, with the aim of adapting your strategies to the attack patterns of the opponents. In all honesty, net of always convincing aesthetics, we noticed some fluctuations in the overall quality of these clashes, thanks to a degree of challenge that is not always perfectly balanced.
However, it must be said that the average difficulty of the content seemed to us this time more consistent with the average level required, unlike what we had found with the previous The Disciple of Tengu. This without disturbing the new difficulty level NG + “The Sage’s Dream”, which will lead the most skilled players between the rides of a funfair full of atrocious entertainment, while increasing the chances of getting their hands on the new Ethereal loot.
In case this isn’t enough to quench your hunger for blood, be aware that Darkness in the Capital marks the arrival of a new mechanic designed to make your swordsman’s life even more miserable (in a good way). In the Sanctuary menu you can in fact exchange one of your accessories for one “Stone of Contrition”: As you kill enemies and accumulate Amrita, this item will charge up to its maximum potential, progressively increasing the chances of getting Divine quality or higher loot.
At the same time, however, the Stone will empower your enemies more and more, which will receive bonuses to damage, defense and health. Once you have obtained a good level of “Contrition”, you can also decide to return the object to recover the accessory left as a pledge, which according to the value reached could return to your inventory with more or less significant upgrades.
It is a well-thought-out dynamic, which helps to fuel one of the strengths of Team Ninja’s production, namely its extreme replayability. To make this frenetic game of slaughter more compelling we also find some pleasant additions to the bestiary, such as the infamous Oboroguruma, chariots with the face of frightening demons ready to overwhelm you with a grim grin on their lips.
In general, between new threats and ad-hoc reworked monsters, the general variety of opponents seemed to us slightly more generous than that of the previous DLC (recover the review of the Disciple of Tengu), although also in this case a certain tendency towards recycling is evident. A discourse that also concerns the new pieces of equipment (with some valuable exceptions) and the scenarios of Heian-Kyo, although the latter clearly show the fruits of a level design of excellent workmanship, perhaps less whimsical than that seen in The Disciple of Tengu but with a generally higher readability.
Nioh 2Version Analyzed PlayStation 4 ProThe second leg of Nioh 2’s post-launch support takes players back two more centuries to the flaming heart of Japan’s Heian-era capital. Obscurity in the capital offers a content package with a good value for money (€ 9.99), able to offer players at least 5 hours of tense battles and heart-pounding boss fights. As in the case of the previous DLC, we are not talking about a particularly generous product in terms of novelty but, among a handful of brand new Yokai, an additional challenge level, new equipment and a brand new weapon, we are pretty sure that fans of the he epic “hardcore” of Team Ninja will not struggle to find in the content an excellent incentive to continue to accumulate Amrita. This net of a story that, again, limits itself to providing users with an intriguing setting for their martial exploits, without fully exploiting the undeniable charm of the setting.