Nioh 2 Review – Get Good And Die Trying

Nioh 2 is not to be trifled with. Building on the original’s tough-as-nails reputation, Team Ninja’s second samurai action-RPG brings back the original’s penchant for punishing and highly nuanced combat. The sequel hones the original’s distinctive take on the Souls-like without completely reinventing itself. The result is a long, tough slog that will push even the most challenge-hungry players to their breaking points as they fight for every inch of ground and become master samurai.

Despite the title, Nioh 2 is a prequel, revealing the secret history of a decades-long period of war in medieval Japan. As the silent, customizable hero Hide, you fight to uncover the secret nature of “spirit stones,” which grant supernatural power, and defeat hordes of Yokai across the country. The plot, which you mostly hear through cutscenes and exposition between missions, has an interesting historical bent, but it is really just glue to hold the levels together. Historically relevant names like Nobunaga and Tokugawa play into the saga, but whatever flavor they add in the moment fades the second you take control and it’s time to start killing demons.

But that’s okay. Nioh 2’s story gives just enough context for you to follow along and make you feel like you’re making progress without getting in the way of the gameplay. Nioh 2’s definitive feature is its challenge. With core mechanics refined from the bones of Dark Souls, Nioh 2 boils down to a series of battles and duels in all kinds of situations. These battles demand intense precision: Not only are your attacks and skills limited by a stamina meter–called Ki–but any extra attack or mistimed movement will leave you exposed, often to an attack that will cost you a substantial amount of health. Like other Souls-like games, there is a painful pleasure in mastering whatever opponents the game throws your way.

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Mindseize Review – Metroidvania Fusion

If you had asked me to write out a checklist of features I would expect to find in a Metroidvania, my final list would be pretty close to what I found in Mindseize. It’s a decent one, too. Solid, even. And, for all that, just a little bit dull. There‚Äôs nothing wrong, per se, with an unimaginative adherence to the basic Metroidvania formula, but Mindseize also fails to inspire with its approach to theme-setting and story development. The final result is a competent but unspectacular action-platformer with precious few ideas of its own.

You play a father bent on exacting revenge on an evil sci-fi organisation that, uh… seized the mind of his daughter. An early unsuccessful encounter with the Big Bad leaves Angry Dad disabled but, with the help of a good sci-fi organisation, able to continue his crusade by transplanting his own mind into a robot. It’s nonsense, of course–though it’s inoffensive nonsense, sparing in its narrative dumps and blessedly easy to ignore.

More urgent matters involve exploring the various planets, each of which is presented as a vast network of 2D platforms appropriated from conventional stock–the jungle area, the industrial factory, the rainy dystopian nightscape, the caves littered with glowing crystals, and the caves that are a bit darker because there are no glowing crystals. They’re all there, present and correct, and no more imaginative than similar scenes in countless other games.

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Ori And The Will Of The Wisps Review – A Will And A Way

Ori and the Blind Forest was a delight in 2015–a tough-as-nails combination of a metroidvania structure and Meat Boy-like demands with a surprising amount of heartfelt heft. Five years later, Moon Studios’ followup, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, is every bit as graceful and lovely as its predecessor, even if some of the emotional beats and exploration feel a little less novel the second time around.

Will of the Wisps picks up almost immediately where Blind Forest left off, with Ori’s patchwork family unit welcoming a new member, the owlet Ku. The family is happy and loving, but Ku wants to fly and Ori wants to help her. Soon the two are swept off in a gale to a new forest deep with rot, which begins the adventure in earnest.

Because this setting is disconnected from the one in Blind Forest, the geography is new, yet familiar. The painterly imagery is comforting, especially in the opening hours as you explore similar biomes. They’re beautifully rendered again, but a little samey if you’ve played the first game. After a while, Will of the Wisps opens up to more varied locales, like an almost pitch-black spider’s den or a windswept desert. The theme throughout the story is the encroachment of the Decay, a creeping evil that overtook this neighboring forest after its own magical life tree withered. But if it’s meant to be ugly, you wouldn’t know it from many of the lush backgrounds–especially in the case of a vibrant underwater section. Ori is often swallowed up by these sweeping environments, emphasizing just how small the little forest spirit is compared to their massive surroundings.

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Ori And The Will Of The Wisps Review – Light On Your Feet

Ori and the Blind Forest was a delight in 2015–a tough-as-nails combination of a metroidvania structure and Meat Boy-like demands with a surprising amount of heartfelt heft. Five years later, Moon Studios’ followup, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, is every bit as graceful and lovely as its predecessor, even if some of the emotional beats and exploration feel a little less novel the second time around.

Will of the Wisps picks up almost immediately where Blind Forest left off, with Ori’s patchwork family unit welcoming a new member, the owlet Ku. The family is happy and loving, but Ku wants to fly and Ori wants to help her. Soon the two are swept off in a gale to a new forest deep with rot, which begins the adventure in earnest.

Because this setting is disconnected from the one in Blind Forest, the geography is new, yet familiar. The painterly imagery is comforting, especially in the opening hours as you explore similar biomes. They’re beautifully rendered again, but a little samey if you’ve played the first game. After a while, Will of the Wisps opens up to more varied locales, like an almost pitch-black spider’s den or a windswept desert. The theme throughout the story is the encroachment of the Decay, a creeping evil that overtook this neighboring forest after its own magical life tree withered. But if it’s meant to be ugly, you wouldn’t know it from many of the lush backgrounds–especially in the case of a vibrant underwater section. Ori is often swallowed up by these sweeping environments, emphasizing just how small the little forest spirit is compared to their massive surroundings.

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Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX Review

When the original pair of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games were released in 2006, they were received as the ugly Duckletts of Pokemon spin-offs. Now, almost 15 years later, it is clear how wrong we were to write off Spike Chunsoft’s ambitious take on the titanic series: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX for Switch is wondrous to play and, in a way, boasts a substantially more resonant fable than most other recent Pokemon games.

You wake up one morning and everything seems pretty ordinary, at least until you realize that you’re not a human anymore. Instead, you’ve magically and mysteriously metamorphosed into a Pokemon–which exact species is determined by a fun little personality quiz you take at the beginning of the game. Before long you make a new best friend, who is also a Pokemon, and you decide to form a rescue team together. Why? To save foolish Pokemon who have ventured into dangerous dungeons stricken by environmental disasters, even though they’re totally aware of said environmental disasters. Over the course of the game, you embark on arduous odysseys to the many dungeons scattered sporadically across the world of Pokemon, each of which contains several ‘mons in desperate need of help and lots of others who are a bit aggravated by the daily earthquakes.

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What’s important about Mystery Dungeon carving itself out a new home on Switch is that DX isn’t just some sort of lazy rehash. Perhaps the most striking thing about this reworked spin-off, at least at first, is its revised color palette. It’s pretty different to the old Mystery Dungeon games, sporting a warm painterly style to replace the originals’ GBA-era pixel art. The revamped rescue base you get about halfway through the game is especially gorgeous, while the relentlessly upbeat soundtrack is capable of both intensifying the charming tone of the art and flipping even the tensest moments on their head. This is an essential part of the game’s overall appeal, as it goes hand in hand with the fact that Mystery Dungeon is ultimately about overcoming adversity with a smile on your face. One second it seems as if you’re on the verge of the inevitable apocalypse, the next you’re bobbing along, beaming for no reason, ready to hurtle headlong into a procedurally generated dungeon to save some ‘mons and make some money.

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