The Nioh game project had to go through many years and underwent many times to eliminate it again to succeed.
Among Souls-like games, if you have to choose the best game, enough to rival the Dark Souls and Bloodborne from FromSoftware, Nioh can be considered the most valuable candidate. Besides possessing the quintessence of Dark Souls, Nioh also created his own unmistakable identity. To achieve success today, Nioh has undergone a long development process with many reshapes. With the upcoming Nioh 2, we will look back on Nioh’s decade-long development process.
Nioh was initially a film project called Oni, written by the legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. The script of the movie is not complete. The main content revolves around a blonde foreigner coming to Japan and becoming the last samurai. During development, Akira’s original script was abandoned and rewritten to suit the range of a game. Accordingly, the game’s content is based on a real historical story about William Adams, an English sailor who came to Japan and became a samurai serving the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu during the Sengoku Warring States period. Although the original script of Akira Kurosawa was canceled, the artistic elements and the battlefield still follow the director’s style through films like Yojimbo and Seven Samurai.
The development process started in 2004 and was developed by Koei. Developer Koei intends to Nioh will be a traditional style JRPG game. The first trailer of the game called Ni-Oh was shown at E3 2005, expected to be released exclusively on PS3 in 2006. However, this version of JRPG had to be developed for four years until 2008 before Koei and merged with Tecmo to form Koei Tecmo. Producer Kou Shibusawa later canceled the version, saying it was unsatisfactory.
Nioh was restarted and transferred the development process to Omega Force, a unit formerly belonging to Koei Tecmo. This new version of the game is intended for high-speed slashing action, similar to the famous Dynasty Warriors series that Omega Force often develops. Then Kou Shibusawa once again canceled this version because he was not satisfied with the project’s direction.
Team Ninja, the developer well known for the fighting game Dead or Live and the cutting-edge action game Ninja Gaiden, was invited to develop Nioh by Koei Tecmo in 2010. At this stage, the game was reshaped under an action role-playing format. When first introduced, the development team at Team Ninja was quite skeptical about the project. They are unsure whether the main character will be a Westerner in Japan and whether it should be a Dynasty Warriors-style action game. The Nioh development process was transferred entirely to Team Ninja in 2012.
Until that time, only the basic concepts of the game were completed. When Team Ninja officially took full control of the development, the project was more action-oriented. Team Ninja’s development team is in charge of designing the gameplay aspects, while the staff of the old Koei team who worked with Ni-Oh is in the game’s story and context.
The Alpha version of the game was completed in August 2012. The Team Ninja team initially used the graphics engine of Ninja Gaiden. This made the producer Kou Shibusawa nervous again, saying that Nioh is gradually turning into a clone version of Ninja Gaiden, typically William throwing an enemy with his bare hands. Along with that, Ninja Gaiden 3, developed by Team Ninja, was also released in 2012 and was assessed miserably, contributing to Kou’s worries. Yosuke Hayashi, co-directing the project, had great difficulty in how Nioh’s gameplay could fit into a samurai character. Then Nioh’s development process continued to be interrupted in half a year. Now that the 7th generation of consoles is near the end of its life cycle, Koei Tecmo begins to produce its games on the next-gen generation, namely the PS4. And the Nioh project is also required to be developed for the PS4 platform.
With more powerful hardware and more comfortable to work than the PS3, it can be said that this is a benefit for the development process of Nioh. This PS4 version was developed in 3 years, bringing the total number of years of Nioh development to 13 years, a record number. According to producer Kou Shibusawa, such a project that wastes time, money, and effort could not have existed for a long time. But thanks to the expectations and expectations of fans in Japan, the project was able to see the light.