Team Ninja, the developers of the critically acclaimed action-RPG franchises Nioh and Ninja Gaiden, are well aware that fans of the latter are clamoring for a new title. Team Ninja has been hard at work on the sequel to Nioh that seeks to expand on the signature elements of the original. They are primarily adding a detailed character creation, more enemy variety, deeper RPG systems, and more expansive level design. While the original Nioh game was well-received, it earned some criticism for its meager enemy variety and reuse of levels. However, the impressive sales and overall attitude towards the product warranted an immediate sequel.
Nioh 2 ratchets up the positives of the first game while trying to fix the negatives. Players create their avatar who is given a Yōkai, a spirit that grants them inordinate magical powers every so often. From there, they must master a wide variety of weapon types, from Katanas to the Kusarigama, to defeat an onslaught of demons and humans alike. It takes from their past Ninja Gaiden series in theme, pace, and difficulty, however, it also employs influences from Dark Souls and Bloodborne, creating a unique blend that some call iterative of the Souls-like genre.
IGN reports that Nioh 2’s director, Fumihiko Yasuda, hinted at the possibility of a new Ninja Gaiden game due to the franchises’ passionate fans and vocal outcry. Yasuda said, “The core members of the team that worked on Ninja Gaiden want to make a new game… We are aware that some fans wanted Ninja Gaiden more than Nioh 2.” He went on to mention the resurgence of ninja and samurai-focused games, including FromSoftware’s critical darling, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
The most recent Ninja Gaiden came in the form of a spinoff, Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z. It was developed by Spark Unlimited and received mixed to negative reception due to the repetitive gameplay and poor level design. With Team Ninja seemingly thinking about returning to the Ninja Gaiden franchise sometime after the completion of Nioh 2, fans could soon find many reasons to get excited about revisiting a newly-perfected Ninja Gaiden game from the original developers.
As Yasuda mentioned, the Samurai/Ninja motif has been quite popular in gaming as of late. Sucker Punch, an American games developer known for the Infamous franchise, is also developing a Japanese-themed RPG, Ghost of Tsushima. Meanwhile, many indie titles such as The Messenger and Aragami perpetuate this market in less expensive ways. With Nioh 2 launching on the PS4 on March 13th, it seems as though 2020 will be a packed year for fans of fast-paced Japanese RPGs.