Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is a wonderful addition to your gaming collection. Nathan Smith tells us why in his review below.
This review was one of the hardest reviews to write to date but not for the reasons you’re probably thinking. Keep reading and you’ll understand where I’m coming from.
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom (“Ni No Kuni II”) is the new JRPG from Level-5 and Bandai Namco that continues the beautiful story telling and art direction set by Studio Ghibli of the previous Ni No Kuni – Wrath of the White Witch. Whilst this iteration may not live up the insanely high standard that the Wrath of the White Witch set, Ni No Kuni II progresses the franchise in surprising ways.
The story is focussed around Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum who has recently been thrown into the role of King after the death of his Father who had sought to bridge the gap between the two main races of the kingdom. Evan is on the eve of his coronation when a rival invades the castle and attempts to kill the young King-in-waiting. He is joined by Roland who has mysteriously appeared in the kingdom of Ding Dong Dell after experiencing his own tragedy and the two journey together to try and reclaim his birth right and build a better kingdom for all citizens.
The story is a wonderful tale of building friendships with diverse characters who pull together to overcome enemies both big and small. As you travel throughout the kingdom there is a mixture of full open world exploration that reminds of the early Final Fantasy series and area maps that feel similar to traditional RPG areas. The mixture of the two is a nice touch and keeps true to the JRPG genre.
The combat system is a great evolution from the previous game, where capturing ‘familiars’ was good but felt a little distant from actual combat, this time around the ‘Higgledies’ you find throughout the world automatically join you and your companions in the non-stop, fast paced heat of battle. The abilities of your tiny little friends can provide a nice damage boost to you or outright destroy some enemies, you can also activate additional abilities that are unique and well developed. You and your Higgledies gain XP together and unlock additional skills as they progress.
The most enjoyable part of the combat system is the open field you find yourself transported into. The field is quite large and allows you to mix your combat play between attacking with a variety of melee weapons, hitting enemies with ranged weapons or magic spells. Changing your approach to a fight can alter the outcome especially when fighting some of the tougher enemies. Rolling, dodging, jumping and blocking should also be learnt pretty quickly as they can add variety or save your life.
Once you progress far enough through the storyline you will unlock your own kingdom that requires you to build your city, complete with unique buildings, workers and civilians as you expand your influence across the world. Traipsing through different landscapes to find new subjects gave me a Star Ocean type feel to it, and it was a refreshing break from the linear storyline. Seeing your budding kingdom evolve in front of your eyes is truly something special and will constantly have you coming back to see what’s changed and what’s next.
Another addition this time around is the inclusion of Skirmish, a pseudo-RTS where you can control recruited civilians to fight for you. The troops have a variety of abilities that can turn the tide of a battle when you figure out your opponents weakness and exploit it. The mode has some linkage to the main story line but there are optional battles as well that are fun to take part in to test your skill as a Commander-in-Chief.
Ni No Kuni II is a beautifully designed game that combines some of the best elements of classic and modern JRPGs to make something truly unique. The world will leave you in awe and whilst the storyline depth and character development could have been more fleshed out, the game is a wonderful addition to the genre.
The reason that this game review was so hard to write was because this game captured me entirely with the art and direction whilst also providing glimpses of nostalgic content that made me fall in love with JRPGs in the first place. It was hard to pull myself away from the game.
Pick this game up if you love JPRGs or want to experience one of the best JRPGs in recent years.