In 2017, Nioh arrived on the video game market , an action and combat title with Dark Souls -type mechanics and a fairly demanding level of difficulty . He did it with the help of Team NINJA, the team responsible for the mythical Ninja Gaiden saga and the truth is that he managed to surprise and conquer the public with a worked and immersive story that used the history of the Sengoku period (period of wars in Japan) and the character William Adams with the rich Japanese folklore of yokai or demons.
The success exceeded the studio’s expectations and, consequently, March 2020 has witnessed the arrival of Nioh 2 , a prequel that promises to take everything you liked about the first one to a new level and to which new weapons, stories , monsters and the interesting yokai mode to let out the beast that we carry inside . To get closer to this project we have spoken with Yosuke Hayashi, director of Team NINJA and one of the main people in charge of Nioh 2 .
With Nioh , the response from the players was very good since they did not expect such a complete game. What has their feedback given you for Nioh 2 ?
With feedback from Nioh players we wanted to improve the aspects that were the subject of feedback. One of them was the number of enemies that had to be defeated , which was a bit limited and that we wanted to expand. Second, the opportunity to create an avatar, a character of your own and customize it. Finally, when you play the online mode , if you get help from a partner it becomes quite easy to beat the levels and we wanted to work on that as well. I think that in these three aspects we have sought to make the experience of playing this game a greater degree of satisfaction for the player .
Does the avatar customization section go beyond an aesthetic addition or does it really have any influence on the dialogues or on some plot detail?
Unlike in Nioh where the main character was William, a westerner who came to Japan , in this case it is not so much that the character can move the story based on how he thinks or how his character is and more considering that the idea in the previous video game was to place the player, through William, in a world that he does not know within that part of the story. For that we needed that in Nioh the character was not a Japanese but in this case it is not so much that there are some changes by giving the character some feelings or an appearancebut rather that it be closer to the player and that the characters located around it are the ones that move the story. If you want a male character you can have it and if you prefer a female warrior then too, but it doesn’t depend so much on the appearance of that character but on how you use it.
As for the new weapons and yokai mode , what is going to surprise players the most?
In the case of Nioh 2 , we wanted the players to have a different experience from Nioh and that’s why we implemented the yokai mode so that every time the player tries to defeat the opponent it will be a strategy fight. This time we have increased the fight time so that the player can implement a plan of attack and think about what is necessary to defeat the opponent . I think that those who enjoyed the previous game will also be able to enjoy Nioh 2 and that we have improved that degree of satisfaction that the player will have.
From a plot point of view, why have you opted for a prequel?
Actually, when we developed Nioh we didn’t think there would be a sequel but in the previous game we took the last stage of the Sengoku period, the period of wars, which has great interest and we wanted to show those moments. If Nioh was the last part of this period, in this case we wanted to work on all the aspects and events that we couldn’t show because they happened before Nioh . I believe that with this change, both players who haven’t played the previous title and those who already know Nioh will be able to enjoy Nioh only as a stand-alone story , separate, and connected to the previous story.
Although the history of Japan still has a great weight in the plot, have you tried to give more prominence to Japanese mythology and yokai or does it still have a certain balance?
In no case do we try to create a game that the player cannot enjoy if he does not know the history of Japan. Obviously, if it looks familiar to you, it will feel closer to you, but the important thing about this video game is that the player can become a samurai and defeat the enemy. It is an action game that allows you to enjoy this experience and, depending on the action that takes place at any given time, it will do so with one story or another, but above all I think it will be of use and enjoyment for all the players who like this type of action games.
When Nioh came out , many gamers compared it to Dark Souls . Now with Nioh 2 you have a very recent Sekiro: shadow dies twice , which also takes place in the Japan of the Sengoku period. Do you think you have managed to give it that essence of its own that differentiates it?
Both titles are videogames that our staff like a lot and obviously we know them, but a videogame must be given a unique aspect so that it doesn’t “be like X” or “like Y”. That already happened with Nioh and the case you mentioned about Dark Souls but I think it’s not about overcoming. We know what we can overcome and the wall we must face is within ourselves. When creating Nioh 2 , we have taken into account the ratings and feedback of the players to improve those aspects and make Nioh 2 a unique game for these players.