Reviews of Team Ninja’s Nioh 2 are full of praise. Not only has it been called “the best Soulslike that isn’t a FromSoftware game” by PS4 outlet PSU, but also a possible GOTY contender.

Word has it Team Ninja has carefully picked which areas to refine and expand on, resulting in a masterful experience, albeit one that’s a touch familiar.

The Metacritic score currently sits at 86%, making it the second highest-rated PS4 game of the year behind Dreams.

Here’s what the critics are saying:

9.5 – PSU: Masterfully crafted and executed, Nioh 2 sets the benchmark for action/adventure games that people just have to experience. Team Ninja’s latest provides one of the most in-depth combat systems and an addictive loot system that may put all but the best dungeon crawlers to shame. It’s quite simple, Nioh 2 has Game of the Year written all over it.

9.0 – IGN: Nioh 2’s many systems may be a little overwhelming, but the stellar combat and satisfying difficulty make it worth it.

9/10 – The Sixth Axis: Nioh 2 builds on the excellence of the original with a fistful of new twists and ideas, from new Yokai abilities to full-on co-op through the entire game. Nioh 2 might well be the best Soulslike that isn’t a FromSoftware game, and it’s easily one of my personal contenders for Game of the Year.

9.0 – God is a Geek: Nioh 2 is an exceptionally good video game. Its fast combat and array of tools and spells might trick newcomers into thinking it’s just another hack-n-slasher, but it offers an incredible level of challenge, a sizeable, well-presented story, and a vast bestiary of monsters, demons and bosses to overcome. It may not be overly accessible to those going in blind, but for anyone craving a test of their mettle in bite-sized chunks and lacquered over with Team Ninja’s trademark combat genius, it’s utterly essential.

9/10 – Destructoid: Team Ninja was right to iterate and expand carefully. Nioh got so much right on the first go. While the new prequel storyline suffers from a slow and disconnected start, just about every other aspect of Nioh 2 feels upgraded.

8.5 – GameInformer: Nioh 2, like Nioh before it, is an unrelenting and extremely punishing ride that has you weighing every resource available. Despite some flaws, this experience carves you from an unrefined button-mashing flailing pustule into a precision-striking samurai.

8/10 – Push Square: While it may be incredibly similar to what came before it, Nioh 2 smartly adds yet more depth and mechanics to its engagements to make for one of the best combat systems around. Notwithstanding its poor skill trees, forgettable narrative, and minor balance issues, Team Ninja has put together gameplay excellence. An essential playthrough for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the original or From Software’s output.

4/5 – EGM: Nioh 2 takes the ideas of its predecessor and greatly expands on them, bringing a greater sense of depth to everything from gameplay, to stage design, to your ability to have a main character customized to your particular play style (and visual preferences). Admittedly, some of the simpler elegance of the original Nioh has been lost in the progress, but the result is still a game that’ll terrorize and thrill those looking for a real challenge.

Nioh 2 launches this Friday on PlayStation 4.