I love telling people that I don't like Dark Souls because I'm a dumb little gremlin that sometimes thrives off of people getting mad about it. That said, whilst I normally say that because it's funny, I do feel the need to explain myself whenever I bring up how much more I like Nioh 2 than any other Dark Souls game. It came up again on a Reddit thread so let me explain.
I read that Dark Souls games have "good combat." I will not argue for or against this statement, even if I don't personally agree with it. But I think this is a good opportunity to interrogate what "good combat" is and can be. For me, a person who grew up inhaling character action games, I love when combat gives me choice. This is the main reason why I don't think I will ever fully enjoy a Souls game.
Dark Souls gives you choices, but it's mostly based around your build. Will you bleed enemies to death with Katanas? Will you use that overpowered magical laser beam in Elden Ring? Will you use the big sword or the small sword? These are interesting choices to an extent, but they effectively start and stop there. Once you have a build down, you're pressing R1 sometimes, R2 sometimes, and dodging sometimes.
I also like to say that Dark Souls is 3D Punch Out because I'm a dumb little gremlin that thrives off of people getting mad about it. But I honestly feel this is true! The only differences between Malenia and the Taurus demon are the attack patterns you need to memorize and the lore behind them. And that's valid - if you feel an emotional charge from squaring up against the 10-foot tall naked lady and that enhances the gameplay experience for you, that's totally fair.
But it bores me out of my mind!
Nioh 2 is the game I keep coming back to because of the choice that comes from the moment-to-moment gameplay. There's so much to consider. First you have 81290271 weapons to choose from. Each of them have an incredible amount of depth to them - the Fists alone could carry an entire game on their own with the complexity of their combos. Then you have 3 stances that completely change your speed and power to suit the different enemy types. Then there's ki-pulsing to regain stamina. Then there's ki-pulsing between different stances to get buffs. And that's before we even get into parries and burst counters and yokai transformation and...
Maybe I simply have a pea brain which is why I need my games to be like this. Maybe I'm just defensive because Nioh 2 is so often derided in comparison to a Souls game. But either way, I like having tools. I like the freedom of expression that can come from games with lots of mechanical depth. Bloodborne is my favorite FromSoft game that isn't Armored Core because it actually has some of that choice. Transforming weapons to suit the situation, and deciding whether I want to press the attack to get some health back or pull back and regroup is interesting to me. I wish more Souls games had that level of depth to them.
It is usually argued to me that the level-design in Nioh 2 is bad. This is true, probably. But I also don't really care. As long as I get to izuna drop a demon, it could be in a grey hallway for whatever it's worth.
Anyways I was just thinking about this and decided rather than argue with someone Reddit I'd just write a blog post about it to be productive. Thank u for reading, follow me on Cohost.