Anyone who played the 2013 hit- Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, would remember being transported into a beautiful fantasy world while being treated to a heart-warming story. With Studio Ghibli on hand to help with the visuals, Ni No Kuni became a must for anime and JRPG fans alike.
Now 5 years later, its sequel- Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, has arrived to take us back to that magical world.
The Story of Ni No Kuni 2
The game starts briefly in the real world where tragedy has struck involving missile attacks. The character Roland, who is president of the attacked country, is transported away unwillingly into a fantasy world.
He happens to appear in a castle, where he meets Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum, the young king of Ding Dong Dell. Just like in the real world, Evan’s kingdom is also under attack, and together Roland and Evan make their escape from the castle.
It turns out Mausinger, the trusted advisor to Evan’s late father, has staged a coup and plans to take over Ding Dong Dell for himself and his own kind.
After their lucky escape, Evan vows to create his own kingdom, one where everyone can be happy and free. This begins his Evan’s journey to create his kingdom born of his noble intentions. But his journey also grows into something bigger, where he must unite all the kingdoms of the world to stop a great threat.
The story overall is good, not great, but still good nonetheless. It’s not incredibly original, but fans of the genre should still enjoy it for what it is. It starts fast though, pulling you in from the beginning, and doesn’t let go until Evan’s goal is established.
From there it moves along at a more reasonable pace, as it is a fairly big story and pacing is important for games like these.
There are multiple layers to the story, but some layers are prioritized more than others. The whole kingdom building story becomes more of a side game than a major plot point, but it was one of the more enjoyable aspects of Ni No Kuni II.
The unification of the world seemed to take center stage, as this took up the majority of the story. I did enjoy these particular chapters, as they told the troubles of each kingdom, and it was up to Evan and his growing list of friends to help out.
The stories behind each kingdom were good, but lacked a bit of depth for them to be great. These chapters also became a little formulaic, as you can eventually work out how they turn out in the end. Though I will point out that chapter 3 was my personal favourite!
I still liked how each chapter had self-contained storylines, but they still managed to connect to the overall story arc. I was a little confused as to why the game’s villain and story revolving them felt a bit secondary.
They weren’t brought up a whole lot and at times I forgot about them altogether. Whatever threats are presented in these type of games need to be felt throughout, so you can feel what’s at stake at all times.
While everything came together well at the end, I do think the story-telling could have been a bit better, and maybe placed more importance on areas that were actually important.
In first Ni No Kuni, you were actually able to travel between the real world and the fantasy world. Every character in one world would have a doppelganger in the other.
While this concept remained in the sequel, I found it incredibly disappointing that the real world had barely any mention, and there was no travel between the two worlds either. That was one of the things I loved most about the first Ni No Kuni, and its omission in the sequel was a letdown.
There is a lot to cover in regards to gameplay. It seems the developers wanted to cram in as many new ideas as possible, and thankfully most worked pretty well.
Ni No Kuni II is a treat for traditional JRPG fans. It retains most familiar elements such as the world map, leveling up, optional bosses, dungeons, etc. Not everything remained traditional though, as combat has gone from turn-based to real-time.
You’ll progress through the game via the main quest-line, but there’s plenty of side missions to keep you busy. But unfortunately the side quests feel like nothing more than fetch quests and pure padding.
I can’t for the life of me understand why all developers like to waste player’s time with these kind of boring activities. Short fetch quests are fine for MMOs, they work well for them games, but in single player, narrative driven games, they just don’t do them any favours.
Besides simply extending the life of the game, I can’t understand why developers persist with this kind of system in games. At least the rewards for them were decent enough.
Simple controls make it easy to play, with light attacks, heavy attacks, and using magic was easy to use too. But I think it might have been a little too simple overall, as not a whole lot of brain power was required, but at least combat was fun and quick.
My main complaint though was how block and evade was assigned to one button, meaning you have to be completely still in order to block. It was a little annoying, but luckily I didn’t need to block too often.
In fact, most of the game is surprisingly easy, but I was consistent in keeping up with side quests and leveling up to ensure I wasn’t under-leveled. Though in later chapters, the level requirements jump up quickly, so you’ll need to stay top of things as much as possible.
For anyone who did play the original Ni No Kuni, the Familiars are no longer present, and the closest thing to them are the Higgledies. Higgledies are very small creatures you can collect and assign to your party, each with their own set of abilities.
When multiple of each Higgledy type group up, you’ll see a circle form, in which you can run inside and activate their abilities. These included attacking the enemies, or healing the party.
Though more often than not you won’t even need to bother with them, as you’ll kill enemies so quick that you won’t even bother with the Higgledies. They’re cute and a little bit useful, but I don’t think they were really needed.
The kingdom builder in Ni No Kuni II is a major aspect of the game, both from gameplay and storyline point of view. Evan wants to build his own kingdom, and there is a whole new section of gameplay dedicated to it.
You start with just a castle and must build facilities all throughout your land that really feels like you’re creating a kingdom.
You can build facilities such as the Weapon Workshop for purchasing new weapons, the Spellworks for acquiring and upgrading new spells, and the Barracks for improving your units for Skirmishes.
You can earn a new currency known as Kingsguilders, which you’ll need to pay for pretty much everything while building your kingdom. That way, you don’t have to use the regular currency, which is a great feeling.
You can go off and continue the rest of the game while the Kingsguilders build up, but unfortunately there is a limit, so you will have to come back periodically to collect them.
This does break immersion a little bit because you are pulled out of the story frequently, but if you want the most amount of Kingsguilders possible, you’ll have to keep coming back.
Throughout the game, you’ll acquire citizens (either through main story or side quests) who you’ll need to assign to facilities so you can conduct research which helps in general gameplay and combat.
I always had fun trying to decide what to research, and it was exciting when it was complete to then reap the benefits.
There are other games out there that are dedicated to this particular mode, meaning Ni No Kuni’s kingdom building may not be as detailed in comparison.
But I believe there is enough depth to it to get something meaningful out of it. It wasn’t just a tacked-on feature and feels fleshed out enough to be satisfying.
I know I enjoyed it, and I think it was very ambitious for this game to add so many features and modes to an already epic RPG.
Skirmishes take place on the world map, and is essentially a mini war between your army and the enemies army. You assign eligible citizens you’ve recruited from your kingdom into your team.
Each of those citizen’s will have their own little army. You can recruit up to 4 team members to create a sizable force. To add to this, each citizen’s army has their own special ability to use during the battle to give you an edge. These include an air-strike, raising defense, etc.
You control your forces by ‘swinging’ them around to the front, to ensure you’re using the best suited force against your enemy.
It can be a little frustrating when you don’t have the required type of unit with you, but that’s why you need to put together a varied army that can take on all types.
Once you’ve got the most suitable army in front of you, you simply run into them and let them battle it out. This makes this particular mode fairly simple to play, as long as you have variety in your army, and they’re leveled up high enough.
You basically win the Skirmish once you’ve defeated all the enemy units on the battleground.
The Skirmishes are actually a very optional feature of the game, which is strange considering how much they put into it. You will have to still complete a small handful of them as part of the main story though.
If I’m to be completely honest, the Skirmishes were my least favourite part of Ni No Kuni 2. It’s great that the developers were feeling really ambitious and included all these extras, but the Skirmishes just felt too separate from the main game.
I think the game would have benefited more if they just didn’t include Skirmishes at all. Once you got used to them, they’re still just ok, but I still feel they were an unnecessary addition.
Another new addition to Ni No Kuni II are the Tainted Monsters and I loved them! These would be similar to other RPGs that would have you hunting down strong mini-bosses, that normally would test your skills and give you great rewards.
You’ll find Tainted Monsters scattered all over the world map, waiting for you to encounter them. You’ll also find them in isolated forests and caves too. As long as you’re not too under-leveled, they should provide a decent challenge, and give a nice XP boost as well as some items or equipment as rewards.
There’s even a handy list in the menu to show all the Tainted Monsters you’ve discovered or slain. As you kill certain amounts of them, there’s also bonus rewards for that too. It’s all great incentive to hunt them all down.
Visuals & Interface
If there’s one thing the original Ni No Kuni was famous for, it was its great visuals. Studio Ghibli were responsible for the animations and they were so good to look at.
While Studio Ghibli weren’t actually involved for the sequel, previous employees of the studio still worked on its animations and still managed to retain the great visuals of the original.
A nice little decision from the developers were the little sparkles you see scattered about the world map, towns, dungeons, etc.
These sparkled areas simply give you an item or guilders, but it cleverly pads out the game that little bit more because you’re always drawn to go pick them up.
It’s also very useful to see enemies walking around in the game, so you can try to avoid them if you like. The game also shows their levels above their heads, so you’ll know whether you’re ready for them.
Obviously when you defeat enemies, you earn XP, but I found it a little frustrating that the game never tells you how much XP you’ve earned from them. It also doesn’t tell you how much XP you’ve got to go until you level up, except for the little XP meter. Why? This basic information is good for players who want to find the best areas to raise their levels.
An interesting interface in Ni No Kuni II is the Tactic Tweaker. Here you get to tweak certain conditions to help you in the game. This can be which enemies you’ll do more damage to, which elements you’re more resistant to, what rewards are more favoured after winning battles, and plenty more.
Though I thought it was strange that you had to decide from two choices at a time. For example, you could only choose between to do more damage to ‘Nature’ enemies or ‘Dragon’ enemies. Or choose to be resistant to Fire element or Confusion status. It had to be one or the other and never both. Why?
Besides, I’m afraid the Tactic Tweaker was yet another unnecessary addition. I completely forgot about it for most of the game as I just didn’t need it. It may be useful defeating tougher monster later in the game, but throughout most of the story, I barely touched it.
Now out of all the new additions to this game, this one confused me the most. We all know and use Facebook in real life, but have you ever used one in a game? That’s right, Ni No Kuni II has its own social media platform.
Like I’ve asked before- why? You can’t do a whole lot on it, because read other character’s post, read the comments, and give them a Like if you want.
It all just felt a little cringeworthy, and out of all the unnecessary additions to this game, this was the most unnecessary of them all.
Ni No Kuni 2 Review Summary
Overall Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom feels like a complete old-school JRPG experience. It has an epic story with plenty to do, ensuring this won’t be a short trip. The game tries to be very ambitious with all its additions, but sadly many of those additions were so unnecessary that they didn’t help the game at all.
I wouldn’t say they hindered the game either, but I think more time spent improving the story, side quests, and combat would have elevated this game to greatness.
Everything this game attempted, it was done well. I wouldn’t say anything was great and blew me away, but nothing was poor either. That good, consistent standard helped make this game worth my time.
Any fan of the original Ni No Kuni should definitely give the sequel a go, even though it doesn’t hit all its highs, it’s still a solid entry that retains all its charm.