Rare nowadays are games that take me back to the PlayStation One era. A time where JRPG’s, though a-dime-a-dozen, still lingers thorough my memory even in this day and age (I’m looking at you Suikoden and Wild Arms!). Before, those titles didn’t need flashy graphics or periodical DLC’s… Because all they needed was an engaging and exciting story that will transport players away on a journey that they will recall for years to come.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is one such game that makes me step back a bit in being that kid again in the 90’s.
Like its older brother, Ni no Kuni II is a very amibitous role-playing game set in a wonderful world that can easily be at par with a Studio Ghibli film. For those unaware, Studio Ghibli actually worked on the first one. Sadly, even though that Hayao Miyazaki trademark didn’t made it on the second installment, much of its beauty and charm still resonates in Revenant Kingdom (as some former Ghibli staff still contributed to the game). Honestly speaking, for me, despite the absence of that tour-de-force powerhouse, what lacked in Miyazaki magic they made up for in practically everything else. And I’m talking about form and function. Let’s talk about it in detail starting with the story.
Revenant Kingdom happens many years after the events of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. The game is centred around the character called Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum, who is the rightful heir to the throne of the fabled city of Ding Dong Dell. You got to love that name!
Our protagonist is part human, part Grimalkin (no, not that type of Grimalkin Monster Hunter fanboys). His ruling family has a long and rich history which dates back to the original game. But unlike your typical dynasty story that is centered around conquest and power, the narrative revolves around the main character’s drive to shape the world and make it better for everyone. You’ll understand this fully once you get a grasp on the game’s mechanics. More about it next.
A change of pace from the first game, the developer’s really revamped the combat system for the better this time around. Gone are the fiddly menus and trigger-happy AI’s felt more like a a burden than an asset. Here in Revenant Kingdom the combat takes place in real-time which feels really intuitive and most important of all, fun. Another plus I noticed in the game is that I really enjoyed min-maxing my loadouts before combat. Putting it really specific for you guys – the big changes combat feels great and at the same time, rewarding.
The only small nit-pick I have though, is that the sequel feels way too easy (I did not find any difficulty settings to amp up the game, sadly). As much as this game borders on the easier side, its charm and humor makes up for it because I know I will remember its delightful story and eye-candy visuals for a really long time.
Perhaps Ni no Kuni II best accomplishment is its kingdom-building system, which basically allows you to go crazy in making and maintaining your very own city, much like a Suikoden game. As Evan and the gang goes about their journey, they will encounter many different characters who are up to the cause in joining Evermore. Some are easy to convince while others need a bit of proving your worth via the usual side quests which involves the expected fetching of fending-off foes to make them believe that you really are the one. Once done they will happily join your town and provide a variety of different functions, even giving free stuff when you talk to them.
As you might expect, getting these new recruits nets you a variety of different specialties that you’ll eventually unlock if the right person is acquired. Some might be expert at gathering materials or researching spells. The beauty of the mode is that you are really shaping your city the way you see fit, but be warned that you really can’t do everything here and you will eventually come to a point that you must have to specialize.
Why you ask? Because in Evermore there is this very unique and limited currency called the kingsguilder, which is mainly used to build buildings, further research and upgrade specific areas for your kingdom. It is highly likely that you can’t max out everything this in the game because of the scarcity of that particular resource. Don’t let this throw you off though… The way I see it is this – because of the limited-nature of kingsguilder, the mechanic naturally leads to great replayablity. Think about it, the Kingdom that you make is probably way different than the one I made… But both are still viable in the game (not to mention both awesome).
Final Verdict – 8/10
- Excellent visuals
- Charming characters and story
- Improved combat
- Needs an up in difficulty
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom really separates itself from its older brother by practically improving every aspect of the the original. Its fast-paced, real-time combat and excellent kingdom building mechanic – not to mention giving some obvious nods to our beloved traditional RPG systems of ye-olden time make it really easy to fall in love with this game. I really just wished that they make a New Game + with scaled difficulty in a future update. That would be golden.