Nioh Director On Going From A Warriors To Dark Souls Style, And What Makes It Different

By Sato . July 13, 2016 . 7:00pm


We got our first look at Nioh back in 2006 but there wasn’t much else until its re-reveal last year. Siliconera spoke with director Fumihiko Yasuda about its development and gameplay for the action game RPG.


Nioh has changed so much from when we first saw the game in 2006. Why did the game evolve into something that looked like a Warriors title to something more like From Software’s Souls series?

Fumihiko Yasuda, Director: The game was first announced in 2006 with the concept of a blonde man who becomes a samurai after he arrives in Japan. That concept has not changed, but the gameplay has undergone a lot of changes. At first, we were wondering if we should make it a Warriors games and this was before I joined the project, even before the merger between Koei and Tecmo. At that time, it was to make to make it a Warriors game. After the merger, it was reexamined and we thought about making it like a Ninja Gaiden game, but nothing took root.


Eventually, after Team Ninja took over the project because of my experience with Ninja Gaiden, Team Ninja’s hallmark of punishing gameplay and the recent popularity of games like Dark Souls we thought our style of gameplay would be a perfect fit for that audience. Also, the concept of yokai was new and we haven’t seen that in an action game before. Those three elements – the Ninja Gaiden style brutal gameplay, concept of fighting yokai, and the initial concept of the blonde samurai – started to gel together and we finally decided to run with it and that is how it became the game it is today.


What is Team Ninja doing to put their hallmark on the genre to separate Nioh from the Souls series?

For fast paced games like Ninja Gaiden, the most important element is reactiveness. That’s in contrast to Nioh where you might want to put distance between you and an enemy to use a ranged weapon instead or you might want to change stances or guard instead of focusing on attack. At a first glance, Nioh may appear to be slower paced, but because there are so many strategic elements to the game such as managing your ki and switching stances it’s a different kind of game. The way you are strategizing using your mind makes it a fast paced game in a different way and because it is a new IP (intellectual property) we set it apart from games like Ninja Gaiden and it’s a new style of gameplay.



Nioh’s main character is based on William Adams. What makes it so fascinating to have a blonde samurai?

The game is based on William Adams who is an English sailor who arrived in Japan and became a samurai around the year 1600. It was a very rare thing during the feudal era. The idea to have a blonde samurai came from the very beginning and that concept came from Kou Shibusawa, the producer. We don’t know why that concept was such an attractive idea that stuck around so long, but I guess the idea that a samurai who arrived in Japan who was basically a pirate who became a samurai was a badass concept. Also a samurai with blonde hair is something really striking. It seemed like a cool idea and a protagonist that would stand out.



What can you tell us about the boss battles players will face?

There is a new boss battle in this demo where you have samurai vs. samurai. I think these are the most interesting battles due to the fast paced swordplay. You can see your enemy’s ki so you have to read each other as you fight.


Most of the bosses are yokai that you’re fighting against and yokai each have their own characteristics. The first thing we do when designing a boss is figure out the keyword. Are they scary? Cute? Sexy? First we decide on this and based on that we think about how we can surprise players with this character. We start with their intro scene to establish the mood with that character.  In the intro scene we add an unexpected element and we bring that same philosophy into the design of the fight itself. For example, if we have a beautiful yokai enemy at some point during the battle she will become ugly. Not only her appearance, but the gameplay will change too. Maybe the battle will become more fast paced. For every battle we tried to add one unexpected element and one change.


The revenants themselves are pretty tough to kill. Even a level 1 revenant is considerably stronger than a regular enemy in the alpha demo.

Higher level revenants drop higher level weapons and rewards. We do want to keep them difficult, but we do want to make adjustments to scale for a player’s level. There have been adjustments already, but in the future that is something we want to consider.


Nioh will release in 2016 for PlayStation 4. Check out our earlier report for more from Yasuda-san, who previously talked about post-release support with user feedback.

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