Tokyo Game Show 2019 is now underway, proudly continuing its annual tradition of showcasing unique and interesting games that generally never make it stateside. There are exceptions to this rule, however, and Nioh 2 is one of them. Embedded below, the TGS 2019 trailer for Team Ninja’s latest foray into the world(s) of hacking and/or slashing reveals an “early 2020” release date for the game, which is the most specific we’ve gotten so far.
In industry parlance, “early 2020” most likely means sometime between January 1 and March 31, aka “the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019,” because international business is a monument built in defiance of God. The trailer makes no effort to clarify if “early 2020” applies to just Japan, or the whole world, but none of the English-speaking PlayStation outlets sharing the trailer have indicated a different release window for the west.
As can be seen in the below trailer, Nioh 2‘s new half-yokai half-human protagonist must face off against an ever-increasing stable of full-blooded yokai, including “Mezuki,” the horse-headed giant with an equally large saw.
Now, credit where credit’s due, I only know that Mezuki is the proper term for that kind of yokai because of an update on the PlayStation Blog. There’s a bunch of other yokai in the trailer that I can’t identify by name, including Blade Weasel, King of Spinning; Sexy Cat Lady with Flaming Wheels for Feet but That’s Not Necessarily a Deal Breaker, Let’s Talk; and Four-Eyed Spider with a Bull’s Head That Can’t Remember If It Left the Oven on or Not.
Being a “half-blood,” as the PlayStation Blog puts it, means that the protagonist can travel between the real world and the Dark Realm, from whence yokai originate and where they are much stronger. It also looks like the hero can transform into different kinds of yokai, or at least take on some of their characteristics, ala Mega Man. The trailer also shows off some “Guardian Spirits” that accompany certain characters, though it’s unclear whether the protagonist gets one as well.
(Team Ninja, if you’re reading this, I will take any furry ethereal friend you would like to give me. Goat, fox, wolf, hog, anteater — whatever you got. I’m into it.)
Near the end of the trailer, we’re introduced to another new character that the PlayStation Blog refers to as a “woman who exhibits great hatred for yokai.” That isn’t really the vibe that I got from her entrance, but then again, my understanding of Japanese is just below “passingly inadequate” on the “Can you tell me where the bathroom is?” scale. As such, I can’t pass along any story beats that may be conveyed by the dialogue here, but we do know that a lot of this footage comes from the demo available at TGS, which is set in a new area called “The Village of Cursed Blossoms.”
Nioh, the original game, was trapped in development hell for more than a decade, with initial planning as a PlayStation 3 game starting in 2005. In its earliest days, Nioh was part of a larger multimedia effort based on an unfinished manuscript by legendary film pioneer Akira Kurosawa. Eventually, Nioh would see the light of day on PlayStation 4 in 2017, as a fantasy epic loosely based on William Adams, one of the few real-life gaijin samurai.