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 (later half of the 90’s, I’m not that old).
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 every other feature in the game…. 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, very expectedly, 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 OG title. But unlike your typical dynasty story that is centered around domination, the narrative revolves around the main character’s drive to shape the world and make it better for everyone, because really, that’s what the world really needs. 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 and overall quality of life improvement in relation 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 from the by-gone days of the PSX.
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. Once done they will happily join your town and provide a variety of different functions that will prove helpful in the long run.
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.The beauty of the mode is that you are really shaping your city the way you see fit, but be warned OC completionists, there might come a point that you really can’t do everything here and you will eventually have to specialize. So this might be something good or bad, depending on how you look at it.
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.