Love Nikki is a massively popular game that many self-professed gaming enthusiasts have never heard of. But a lot more people might be playing it soon. Former Zelda director Kentaro Tominaga is heading an open-world adaptation called Infinity Nikki, which looks fantastic. The world seems almost Disney-like, in an engrossing way.
The official website describes Infinity Nikki as an open-world dress-up adventure. And that’s exactly what it looks like in the new announcement trailer. Infinity Nikki invites comparison to Breath of the Wild in the way that Genshin Impact did at launch. The core gameplay loop combines open-world platforming and exploration with solving puzzles. The trailer also shows that Nikki is able to change her size at will, and there will be a fishing component. The BotW similarities go beyond secondhand inspiration. Before joining the development studio Papergames, director Tominaga was a designer on BotW who also directed the expansion pass.
As a uniquely Nikki twist, the protagonist is able to immediately change outfits at any time. These are some of the best-looking dresses I’ve ever seen in a video game, representing a high bar even among games primarily aimed at young women. The outfits don’t feel sexualizing, which is a pleasant relief from many other games. Even Genshin Impact gets flak for impractically skimpy outfits. Infinity Nikki doesn’t seem to have that problem. According to an interview by IGN China, different outfits will allow Nikki to use different special abilities.
Love Nikki has come a long way. This previously mobile-exclusive series was originally a 2D dress-up game where you scored points by coordinating outfits according to a specific theme. You could unlock more outfits through regular gameplay or by rolling in the gacha. The sequel Shining Nikki was similar, except Nikki had a 3D model. These games often ensnared unsuspecting fashion aficionados with hilariously misleading advertisements. Please enjoy some of these trashy Love Nikki mobile ads, which deserve a place in the MoMA.
Infinity Nikki is the latest game to follow the “mobile F2P series” to “premium open world” trend that major Chinese developers have been pursuing with their IPs. After the success of the science-fiction action game Honkai Impact, Hoyoverse released the open-world fantasy Genshin Impact in 2020. A year later, Tencent announced the open-world adaptation of the MOBA game Honor of Kings. Infinity Nikki dev Papergames had the money to pour into the game’s clearly costly development because the mobile gacha has proven that Nikki is a profitable IP. In all likelihood the studio is betting on what they see as a sure thing, appealing to both casual and “prestige” gamers. Papergames’ previous games were published by Tencent, but it seems that Infinity Nikki will be a self-published venture.
Infinity Nikki does not have a release date, but will be available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and mobile devices.