Name: Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Acquired: A copy of this game was provided from publisher for review purpose
I love Studio Ghibli, I loved Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, and I generally love JRPGs. Since my meeting with Bandai Namco to get a preview of Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom I’ve been counting the days to its release. Finally the day was here, and I could sit down with what could be one of the best games of the year. Let’s find out how it stacks up.
In Ni no Kuni II we follow the story of young King Evan, who immediately loses his kingdom because of a coup from the evil Mausinger, who’s stolen Evan’s kingmaker and seized the throne. Luckily, Roland gets thrown from our world into the world of Ding Dong Dell, and helps rescue Evan, and get him to safety. Now, I won’t say too much else about the story, as that would be massive spoilers, but it has sort of an anime feel to it, and I must say I really enjoyed it.
What I do want to make a point of is the great characters, I cared (or disliked, in some cases) every single character I met, even the NPC’s feels like they have their own lives and personalities, even though they mainly say the same stuff over and over again. Personally I really enjoyed Tani, one of the playable characters, I can’t actually put my finger on why I liked her as a character, but she felt well written and was a great addition to my team.
First of all let me say, the graphics are simply stunning! The game has a cartoony, and very Studio Ghibli style, and I kept getting lost just going around and looking at all the details. Especially the cutscenes looks great, and you can definitely see that Studio Ghibli has had a saying on how it all should look. The character design too, is top notch, with each character being distinct and recognizable after only a couple of on-screen appearances. The world design too is really amazing, it is diverse, yet feels like it all fits together as a continent. I am truly impressed.
There are two small things I must say about the graphics, firstly, the voice acting is a bit weird, most of the time it’s just a word or two, and the rest is text. The important cutscenes are all voiced though, unfortunately, the voicing feels a bit out of place here as well. I have yet to try the game with Japanese voicing, but I imagine they will fit more with the anime-style. The second part, although very minor, is the style the characters have while on the world map, it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the game, as they are all large headed figures walking around. Again, these are minor things, and doesn’t take anything away from the greatness of these graphics.
As I mentioned in my preview, the main new feature in this game is Higgledies, small fluorescent beings that follow Evan around in fights, and provide area-of-effect buffs or special attacks that devastate most enemies. Yet again I rarely needed their help, apart from a few boss fights, but they are a good addition to the game. You also have a skirmish mode, which is a light RTS-styled part of the game (RTS – Real Time Strategy). Personally I don’t really like RTS’s, I’ve never gotten the hang of it. Luckily this was the only part of the game I found boring, and that’s all due to my lack of joy for the RTS genre. That being said though, for being RTS-styled gameplay, I didn’t get as bored as I feared on beforehand.
In addition you also have a “Kingdom Mode” where you get to build the new kingdom of Evermore. Among the buildings you can choose, were a bakery to get more potions/food and their buffs, which comes in handy when out and about in the world. As you build more stores in your kingdom, you get more income and can thereby allow your kingdom to expand even more. This was actually one of my favorite parts of the game, with trying to find out what new building would be best for the next hours of gameplay, while also considering the cost, feeling surprisingly tactical.
Most of the gameplay consists of fighting creatures, and most of the time it’s pretty fun. I rarely failed the fights, and that is the gameplays biggest flaw. So far, I’ve only had one game over because of difficult fighting, and I did wish for more of a challenge, especially when it came to the boss fights. It’s no way a deal breaker for the game, but the lack of a harder difficulty keeps the game from being top-notch. If you play the game mostly for the story, and don’t want anything to be difficult, you’ll probably love the gameplay (even) more than I did.
The controls in Ni no Kuni II is pretty basic, you’ve got strong attack, fast attack, jumping, special attack, etc. It pretty much just works as intended. I do find it a bit weird that jumping is the circle button, but those are minor issues. I also feel like the steering can be a tad too sensitive at times, but once again, these are minor stuff that doesn’t really bother me. The only thing I kept being annoyed about is the fact that the options button goes to the map, while the touchpad starts the menus. I can’t tell how many times I’ve opened the map when I tried to access the items or saving.
As with almost every JRPG, Ni no Kuni II is a long game, I’m not sure how long I’ve actually been playing, but it has taken all of my free time this week to get this review ready. And I have yet to play every side quest and see every corner of the world. It must also be said that the story is the same through every game (at least it seems so with my time in-game). You are able to play mostly with different characters through the game, as your team can only have three members in each fight, and there are six playable characters. You can also make a your own rules, such as “only use the original weapons”, “never use higgledies” and so forth, but the game itself would be mainly the same experience.
I really enjoyed my time with Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, apart from some minor stuff with the graphics, and the game being a bit too easy for my liking, I can’t really say anything bad about it. It has that Studio Ghibli feel I expected, it has all those JRPG elements I love, and it is generally a very good game. I do wish the voicing was a bit better implemented in the game though, but this too, is a minor issue. If you enjoyed any of the previous Ni no Kuni games, I can safely advise you to buy this one too, that goes for those of you who are JRPG fans in general as well. Level-5 and Studio Ghibli has done a great job, and I’m already looking forward to more from the two studios.
Lots of fun
The RTS elements are a bit boring
The voicing is a bit weird
Replay Value: 6/10
Total Score: 8/10
Great – A must-buy for the fans, and also a great place to start with JRPGs.