If there is once thing we should know in this life its good things come to those who wait. In 2013 when Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch finally dropped onto western shores it quickly found a soft, cushy place in my heart with its gorgeous visuals featuring cutscenes crafted by the beloved Studio Ghibli, an epic score created by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, enlivening RPG gameplay and an engrossing and heart-warming tale with an array of outlandish and memorable characters. So in 2015 when its sequel Revenant Kingdom was announced to be coming our way, it was a sequel I didn’t know I needed until I was sat at my computer salivating like a dog in heat. Even after a couple of delays my desire for this title didn’t waver after witnessing its amped up visuals, gameplay and new outlook on the whole ethos until finally it hit the shelves and my PS4 (ON MY BIRTHDAY!!!) and after practically grinding for 10 hours straight, Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom has not disappointed. By taking every element that made its predecessor so dear to me and somehow bettering it in the ultimate ‘hold my beer’ move.
Ni No Kuni 2 introduces us to Evan, a young boy who is set to become king of the nation of Ding Dong Dell, a country where Grimalkin (cat people) and Mousekin have lived together in animosity for quite some time. After Roland, a world leader from another more familiar world somehow finds himself being transported to Evan’s, the Mousekin perform a coup resulting in young Evan being usurped of his throne. This sets him and Roland on a journey to create a new Kingdom with a banner to bring an end to war and bring the world to once peaceful realm. At a first glance NNK2’s plot was something that had been done many times before, a King who is looking to reclaim his throne from and evil rat, but after diving into this title for hours on end the slight curveball it took by our protagonist saying ‘I’LL JUST MAKE MY OWN KINGDOM! WITH BLACKJACK! AND HOOKERS!’ (Disclaimer: Evan does not say this at all, but you get the gist) is a refreshing twist on a classic and its anti-war message gives it an extra bit of charm even if the message may be a little contradictory at times.
Ni No Kuni 2 in all honesty has some of the most stunning visuals I have ever seen in a video game. From its colourful, breath-taking landscapes of lush green fields, mountainous ranges, golden desserts and dazzling forests to the fantastic cities you pass through, like the luminescent gambling town of Goldpaw (a town of anthropomorphic dogs ruled by a pug….YEAH!) to the amazingly quaint and appealing sea city of Hydropolis makes the world that Level 5 have created an absolute immeasurable joy t traverse and discover, and even though Studio Ghibli’s contribution is more or less absent from this sophomore outing, the cutscenes and story segments all have an a extra punch in aesthetic to them which helps to catch the eye and captivates you in its plot even further. Even its change in art style to a more traditional video game look when you hit the world map, complete with sprites that I can only describe as inspired by the World of Final Fantasy game somehow melds in seamlessly with games journey. It also features a soundtrack composed by Joe Hisaishi who is known for his work in Studio Ghibli films creates an ambience that captures the grandeur and majesty that this title creates with its outlook. Throw in characters that are all unique in their look and each have a purpose in the games lore are easy to become invested in. All this combines together to create a game that is hard to be faulted.
The developers have also taken things to the Nth degree when it comes to its gameplay and along with the new characters and locations is just another place where Ni No Kuni 2 evolves and sets itself apart from the first title. The battle system feels like a NNK title but in the saem breath feels like it has been refined. The real time action RPG style much like its predecessor comes across a bit more simplified, the monster taming mechanic has been done away with, which in all honesty was one of my least favourite parts of the original Ni No Kuni and have been replaced with the Higgledies. Tiny crazy looking creatures that each have their own unique abilities from elemental, melee to healing that assist you in battle and really come in handy during the toughest of battles and add a strategic edge in decided what kind of Higgledy to take into which battle. The strategic emphasis carries on with the tactic tweaker which helps to buff your offense against certain types of enemies, a good touch when you find yourself in a region that’s riddling with a specific elemental foe that is giving you a hard time. Weaponry and armour comes in the metric butt load and come in many varieties for you and your comrades and with hard hitting abilities which become stronger once the weapons ‘Zing’ gauge has been filled.
Ni No Kuni 2 also makes a trek outside its J-RPG label shortly into the game when you establish your Kingdom of Evermore. And it does an amazing job of capturing the essence of being a King in true Sim City fashion by building businesses, farms, inns and guilds, upgrading your castle into a grand vision and finding people to call it their home. Watching Evermore grow into a prosperous and harmonious society is an incredibly gratifying aspect to this title and is something I found myself going back to frequently and putting a good amount of time into. This game is also rife with side quests that will keep you distracted from the side quest for hours which range from fetch quests, uncovering rare items, ridding of stronger enemies. Most of the time they culminate in your Kingdom gaining a new citizen, which you can place in an establish for work depending on their skills be it weapons, armour, exploration, farming, catering, outfitting among many others. You can also build and army to fight in skirmishes across the world which slips in well with Revenant Kingdom’s tactical character. The only thing I can put in this title’s practically baron con section is that lack of difficulty curve that its forerunner had in spades. In the hours I spent in this game I rarely came across an enemy that made me rethink my strategy and even then they can overcome with brief grinding and even then I found it fairly easy for my motley crew of characters to become overpowered and though it is satisfying to see your team become power houses that mow through anything in their path the deficiency of contest sticks out like a sore thumb. The silver lining however is that you can witness the main quest unfold more fluidly.
AVAILABLE NOW ON PS4 AND PC
GAME WAS PURCHASED BY THE REVIEWER