“Swindled” is the word I really object to. This may not reflect your understanding of their vision, and I do understand how that can be frustrating, but I think it is in line with what they wanted to convey. Certainly no one tried to “trick” you. They hired one of the industry’s best art directors in order to make the game better, and this represents the work he and the team have done to better convey the feeling they want for the game.
The fact that so much has changed "to be less work" after the game is funded doesn't give me confidence in what this team is going to produce, and quite frankly, in my mind calls integrity a bit into question.Do you really think they spent the money to hire a high profile art director like Nate Wells and then redo all of the assets they've done so far "to be less work?" I find that a pretty absurd conclusion. They're spending a good deal of money bringing in AAA talent and putting a lot more work into developing a unique style. It's an investment, if anything.
This art style is not any simpler or easier to create than the old one. When they mentioned budget, they were only saying that this style doesn’t invite comparison to more expensive AAA games in the same way, not that the old style was more expensive to create.