Why Nioh 2 Still Stands Out In The Soulslike Space

The most memorable enemy I’ve encountered in a video game this year isn’t the rot valkyrie Malenia from Elden Ring, nor any other fearsome denizen of the Lands Between. Nor is it any of the bats, zombies, and ghastly ghouls that assault you after a few minutes of the bullet hell lunchbreak game Vampire Survivors. No, the enemy that most sticks in my mind is a humble foe from the first 30 minutes of Team Ninja’s 2020 samurai Soulslike Nioh 2–a foe that you will kill many hundreds of times throughout any playthrough of the game, but remains vitally important just the same.

Nioh 2’s first level makes a definite statement in every way imaginable. This is not a game that delicately eases you into its core loop past the tutorial. The Enki that you fight in the game’s first “Dark Realm” is a major challenge–and he’s merely the first enemy you can’t button-mash to death.

I was somewhat embarrassed when I died to this spear-wielding yokai for the first time–after all, as a person who beat Nioh 1, I thought I would be well-prepared for at least the first few hours of the sequel. The subsequent 20 deaths at his hand dulled this impression, however. You see, this first Enki is Nioh 2 in a nutshell. If you can beat him, you can conquer the rest of the game, but it’s not going to be easy for you either way.

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Author: Steven T. Wright