Nioh! 12 years in development, and it doesn’t look a day over 4 to be honest. That’s because Sony’s upcoming darkly-souled slasher has been in the hands of Team Ninja for the last couple of years, as development shifted to the masterminds behind the devilishly challenging Ninja Gaiden series of games. It’s a game that has been through some big changes over the years, changes which David Bowie would sing about if he wasn’t tripping the light fantastic in the afterlife.
“Team Ninja has only been on this for 3-4 years, so this is what I’ve heard (but can’t attest the whole truth of it),” Nioh’s creative director Fumihiko Yasuda said to Eurogamer in a TGS interview.
Initially it was meant to be a JRPG, then at some point it was handed to Omega Force and it resembled something more like a Warriors-style game. And after Team Ninja took the baton, then it became a hardcore action game.
That just about aligns with previous comments on the changes made to Nioh, as Yasuda explained that earlier incarnations of the Samurai slasher just didn’t match up to the grand plan that Koei Tecmo CEO Kou Shibusawa had for the title. “The earlier versions didn’t live up to his vision. And ever since Team Ninja took over he has been rather hands-off, but he has been vigilant,” Yasuda explained.
So basically he would not question every decision that we’d make, but on the other hand he would constantly play the game himself, so we could feel his watchful eyes. But he does respect what Team Ninja does, so he hasn’t been heavily involved in its development recently.
Thing is, Nioh looks like it happens to have borrowed a lot of inspiration from the Dark Souls series, to craft a game that feels like a big departure from Koei Tecmo’s usual brand of action. “Yes, it did have a big impact on the direction this project eventually took. We have very, very high opinions of the Souls series and it’s captivated a very wide audience, even here in Japan,” Yasuda said of the Dark Souls inspiration.
Also, fundamentally that the game is very difficult, very challenging, yet very well-done and refined as a great action game. That part is in common with the past Team Ninja titles. So we did take some inspirations from Dark Souls.
Nioh has had two betas so far, and you can expect even more changes to be implemented between now and the release of the final game next year as Yasuda outlined these plans: