Launching the newest chapter of Netease’s martial-arts-driven game, ‘Showdown - Gelid Yushan,’ the 2D animated short features anime-like action while staying true to the franchise’s distinct Wuxia-style sword craft.
Final Frontier and Le Cube teamed up to create a new animated short for the Netease martial-arts-driven battle-royale game Naraka: Bladepoint. The latest 2D animation serves as the launch piece for the game’s new chapter, “Showdown - Gelid Yushan,” and a new Player Versus Environment (PvE) game system.
Animated in Le Cube’s signature style with fluid transitions, the action is reminiscent of anime but choreographed with the moves and sequences distinct to Wuxia-style sword craft. The film centers on fan-favorite heroine Viper Ning as she faces off against the demonic Mother of Kunlun in an enormous and cavernous temple. Ning seems destined for defeat before lifelong rival blade master, Justina Gu, emerges to fight by her side, the ensuing battle intercut with flashbacks to the protagonist's complex past.
“To reflect the magnitude of this epic face-off, I wanted there to be a palpable feeling of tension that builds and intensifies until the final climax,” said director Ralph Karam. “There needed to be an oppressive atmosphere of terror and the constant inescapable feeling of Ning’s struggle against a formidable opponent. The music was a key component in achieving that effect. To enhance and escalate the tension, we layered sound effects rather than going with melodic music.”
In describing the film’s animation technique, Karam noted that the team found a way to paint the background over a 3D structure and later animate it as a 2D asset.
“That helped us a lot to speed up the design process,” he explained. “Our experience producing the first film helped us to maintain aesthetic coherence this time round, especially with the fine ink and texture work, which ultimately gives the project its unique personality.”
Being true to the game’s existing character and environment designs was a challenge. For example, the characters needed to move in a specific way, Karam added, “…while at the same time making sure we were adding our own vision, style, and unique touch to the film.”
Reflecting on the work, the director shared, “My favorite moment is when the mother of Kunlun looms forward and emerges from the shadows, fearsome, eyes blazing. Again, it was all about playing with the light and shadow, and sound to create that chilling sense of dread. I also love the effects, which infuse the action with extra dynamism.”
Final Frontier executive producer Chris Colman said, “I really just want to pay tribute to Ralph and Le Cube’s creativity, craft, and professionalism, and Netease, for trusting us again to execute their vision serving a game and world with which we feel deeply connected. It’s proving to be a powerful Ning and Justina-esque combination.”
Naraka: Bladepoint is a Chinese martial art “wuxia sword craft” game that takes place against the backdrop of the battle between two ancient gods, seeing heroes from around the world venturing to the legendary Morus Isle to compete for the immortal mask. First launched in August 2021, by June 2022, global sales of the game had exceeded 10 million copies.
Final Frontier also created the full 3DCG trailer for Naraka Championship 2022, the inaugural edition of the international esports tournament.
Source: Final Frontier