Before I start I will say that I enjoy this game. Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is a great game and has so much going for it. It contains a huge variety of different styles of gameplay and you would think by that merit it should be outstanding but unfortunately for me, it falls a little too short. Also be aware that there will be spoilers as I will be delving into the story of both Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch and Ni No Kuni 2 Revenant Kingdom.
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom story is much like the first. You begin in the real world where you meet one of the lead characters Roland. As the president of the United States of America, he finds himself transported to a different world after almost being killed on his way back into the city. Upon arriving he meets the other lead character Evan who lost his father at a very young age and is now King. However, all is not as it seems as a hostile group of rat people see him as weak and attempt to overthrow his position as King.
The whole opening sequence was great to watch and I was instantly grappled by the game’s induction but it was very shortly after that where I found Ni No Kuni 2’s teething problems came to surface. Much like Oliver in Wrath of the White Witch; Evan is a young boy who is shortly robbed of people close to him however his sadness was completely unfelt by myself. I just didn’t find Evans voice actor great at all and when he was sad I just saw the whole situation as awkward and that his voice actor tried too hard. Oliver was just more believable when his Mom died.
Part of this could be down to my other glaring issue which is the character interactions. Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom contains a lot less character voice overs compared to the first game. Whilst the first game did have a lot of moments where characters were not voiced it wasn’t at important parts in the main story. It’s not uncommon to have every text on screen unvoiced in fact it would actually be annoying to do so. In the first Ni No Kuni, for example, Drippy wouldn’t be voiced during times where he is explaining tutorials and key gameplay elements to Oliver and a scrolling text noise would play over much like we see in every Dragon Quest game. In Revenant Kingdom, however, characters would say one or two phrases related to but not from the on-screen dialogue such as “Right!” and “Okay!” and this happens way too often and in main story dialogue for the most part. This may be a personal issue but I never liked this style of deliverance in games anyway and you may see it as a biased opinion when this happens so much especially in Persona 5 which happens to be one of my favourite games ever but that game had all its main story points covered perfectly when it came to voices and it was so easy to adopt a character’s personality on the writing alone.
On the design front Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is absolutely gorgeous to look at and it is everything you would expect from Level 5 and it clearly has the Studio Ghibli seal of approval all over it. It definitely pushes the PlayStation 4 to its Limit and the games user interface cannot be faulted although the text during Skirmishes could be bigger as you need to be pretty close to your TV if you wanted to know what characters were saying plus be able to read faster than normal. The hack and slash style gameplay is something I enjoy in Revenant Kingdom although I do miss the turn-based system from the first game. The Higgledies are cool but capturing familiars and training them like Pokemon was so much more appealing to me. The Skirmishes I did not care for too much but was something I dealt with much like I did in Final Fantasy Type 0. While I do think a game with many different features is a good idea, putting Skirmishes in I think did nullify a good experience for most people. I do however understand why they did this as I am sure they wanted the Kingdom building to be an integral part of the game which it is. You will spend a large portion of your time building a kingdom and deciding on which buildings to make and who controls them. It is by no means a short process and you will need to do Skirmishes to fund these projects but for most this may or may not be an issue. Playing as a King I would imagine they really wanted to capture that feeling of going to war out on the field. Again this wasn’t so much an issue for me but forcing a player to do Skirmishes as a mandatory part of the game may put off a lot of players; it really is a game mechanic that is alien to players that are more suited to a kick back and relax to a story sort of game and Skirmishes would of been better suited to an optional side quest instead.
Ni No Kuni was made for the Western audience in mind and it shows. While I do love the game for what it is; its problems for me mean it falls short for a game that should have been a standard especially when you are creating a sequel to quite possibly one of the greatest JRPG’s ever made. For me, the game felt like a step back rather than a step forward and for me, it took away so much that the first game had going for it. Is Ni No Kuni 2 a good game and should I purchase it? Yes, by all means, you should; it is great in so many ways but if you came looking for a bigger bolder game to exceed the Wrath of the White Witch then you may end up feeling overly disappointed.