Many games have been released to critical acclaim this year, but we should not forget that Nioh was one of the first, and it’s being bolstered with additional content through the year. Its first piece of DLC was an indication that the plan going forward is to extend the story towards the conclusion of the Sengoku Jidai, featuring some of the key players as well as an entirely fictional story about chasing a new enemy. Defiant Honor is the second in what is presumably a three part story, and it seems to take a similar approach to the previous DLC.
This second piece of DLC features a trilogy of scenarios in which William must chase after an interfering Spaniard who is seeking Spirit Stones still in Japan, with the levels all encompass part of the Siege of Osaka. It also marks the last real chapter of the Sengoku Jidai. Led by the Shogun – Tokogawa Ieyasu – your objective is to infiltrate part of this castle and defeat the samurai Sanada Yukimura and the Sanada Maru.
Continuing on from where the Dragon of the North DLC left off, it puts a few new formidable bosses to the table, as well as a brand new region to explore. As far as level gimmicks go, having a rain of arrows fly every few seconds is brutal even for this genre, and finding cover and remaining inside is a lot harder than one would imagine.
Naturally, this means that only those who have beaten all the previous content need apply here. These areas are some of the most gruelling found in Nioh and are rounded off by two of the most insanely technical bosses thus far; one wielding a much more explosive variant of the game’s newest weapon – the Tonfa.
Think of them as dual wielding night-sticks that are used to batter an enemy’s defences to breaking point. While the Odachi is more of a heavy-hitting giant sword, this is more for those that like to get stuck in and bash things repeatedly with sticks. They’re effective and the new skills associated with them make using them rather enjoyable.
There are parts of the DLC that feel labyrinthine in nature, especially once you enter Sanada Maru. It’s designed to confuse and does so rather effectively, putting ambushes in some of the most inconvenient places – par for the course in Nioh! Having said that, while new human enemies are numerous, new Yokai are few and far between, and the inclusion of guard dogs is strangely pedestrian when compared to the more outlandish designs we’ve seen in the past.
Bosses, depending on your weapons and skills, can either be a cakewalk that can be smacked around a bit or take an age to kill. One constant is that both main bosses are very nimble, meaning that you need to bring your A-game and fast reflexes in order to avoid their devastating attacks. Both can hit hard and have unusual fighting styles that are unlike most other bosses, and when defeated they yield powerful Guardian Spirits for you to use.
Once you’ve completed the main part of the DLC, there are a few side areas that are home to a few more fights that are challenging in their own right, but much like so many middle films in trilogies, it all feels like this is the stop-gap between the first part and the concluding chapter that will apparently release later this year. For that grand finale, there’s hope that the fights will be more supernatural in nature and that we’ll finally see the Naginata.