Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom Preview
Few Japanese Role Playing Games in the last decade have grabbed me quite like Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom has. The last few JRPG’s that had a huge impact on me – in terms of how much I wanted to play them compared to the other games I owned – were probably Tales of Symphonia back on the Nintendo Game Cube, and Tales of Vesperia on the Xbox 360. I’ve always taken a liking to the Tales franchise, but in recent years, I’ve been fairly disappointed in their offerings. Tales of Berseria was good, but not what I had hoped. Once I got a few hours into Ni No Kuni 2, I got that feeling back. This is my 2018 Tales of Symphonia, and I’m loving it.
When I saw the first few images of Ni No Kuni 2, I did what no media member should ever do: I shut the door on that game, leaving all the surprises for when I played it. For the website, it’s a poor move, but for my own pleasure – something that seemingly gets lost when you enter the media world – it was the best decision I ever made. Going into Ni No Kuni 2, I had no idea what to expect, and the mixture of JRPG and RTS has worked much better than I could have ever expected.
Graphically, Ni No Kuni 2 is incredibly charming, and the art style here works really well. I wish the audio was equally as impressive. While the voice acting is good, it’s too infrequent. At first, I thought key story moments would be voiced, while less important aspects would be text only, but that soon became untrue as incredibly important story points didn’t have accompanying audio, and vice versa. The audio tracks, as well, could have a bit more variety to them. The same over world tune over-and-over again wears on you quickly.
Audio issues aside, it’s hard to find many faults in the overall presentation of this title. Everything is explained incredibly well via tutorials, and new features are introduced slowly; not too slowly as to really halt progression, but in a smart way that worked well with the story that was being told. Through the first 10+ hours, I’ve never felt the game has lagged in anyway, which is something not all JRPG titles can say. I’ve never had to grind and never had to search endlessly for specific items. By not introducing side quests until Chapter 4, Level-5 has guaranteed that the games opening and first few hours are seamless and fun.
Fights, Skirmishes and City Development
Fighting in Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is much simpler in my opinion that what you might find in other JRPG titles. Two buttons are mapped for quick attacks and powerful attacks, and pulling the left trigger will pull up a skill menu, offering up 4 skills that players can use. Once you’ve mastered these systems, the game will introduce Higgledies, small creatures that you can find around the world, and that will aid you in battle by attacking enemies when you interact with them. Different classes of Higgledies will perform different attack moves, or defensive / healing measures. Finding these Higgledies in the world is key to success in battle.
Although I find battles a bit easy, the boss fights you will encounter during the first few hours will challenge you to your core. Well I expect moment-to-moment fights to be much more difficult as I progress through the game, during the early going, things are easy enough to let you get comfortable with the controls, the characters, and the story. I really appreciate that decision by Level-5.
During Chapter 3, Evan, Rolland and crew will be introduced to wars, an RTS style mechanic that has groups of soldier – captained by some of your friends, initially the pirates – surround Evan and enter the battlefields. Groups of soldiers will surround Evan as you move across the battle field, and at any time players can pull L1 or R1 to rotate these soldiers to put a different group in the front. Being aware of who you are attacking is key, as the game utilizes a rock-paper-scissors approach to strengths and weaknesses. I was skeptical when first trying out this gameplay mechanic, but quickly warmed up to it.
At some point in your journey, you will begin the city development phase of the game, allowing you to control your own city, establish stores, research facilities, and residents, all the while researching new skills, weapons, armour, and spells. The city you create, expand, and develop will help you progress towards the end goal in a new and interesting way. Instead of tying research and development to quests, this city building mechanic is another unique game play mechanic that is not utilized in other JRPs. This sets Ni No Kuni 2 apart, and it works VERY well.
Our full review of Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom will be live next week ahead of launch. If you have questions about Ni No Kuni 2, don’t hesitate to drop a comment below, or hit me up on social media!