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‘Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom’ is the ultimate sequel that improves on the original in every way


Disclaimer: This review is of the PC version and was conducted on a PC with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960, i7, 8GBs of RAM.

Level-5 released Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch back in  2013 on the PS3, and received a lot of praise from critics. Yet, the  game still ended up being relatively divisive. Some people were able to  commend the game for its absolutely stunning visuals for the time,  fantastic score, and a great story. Others wouldn’t give the game that  credit, because even with all of those factors, the gameplay was an  absolutely confusing mess that wasn’t that fun. Even for a fan of the  first game, it still has gone down in quality upon playing it again due  to how not fun the gameplay is.

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom manages to keep everything  that made the first game amazing, improved on it, then added gameplay  that’s fluid, satisfying, and loaded with legitimately fun things to do.  This may honestly be one of the best JRPGs of the decade.

A big, bright, and beautiful storybook world

Image from Instant Gaming

The art style of Ni No Kuni II matches very closely to the  first game, only greatly improved thanks to the power of newer hardware.  The game has an incredibly anime-esque style, with a team of artists  that formerly worked for Studio Ghibli. The animation of the characters  also has a lot of care and effort put into how they move, every part of  their model moving smooth like butter. The game also runs very well,  even on hardware that’s slightly dated like mine is. Even the random NPC  characters look good and animate well, like they truly are apart of  this storybook world. It’s hard to really describe how lovely it is  without seeing it, but it just is stunning in motion. A particular  locale that looks great is the city of Goldpaw, with a style of  traditional Chinese architecture mixed with the neon lights of Las  Vegas.

The soundtrack in the game, just like the first game, is incredible.  It’s beautifully orchestrated, with songs flowing into one another as  you travel through the massive world. It doesn’t necessarily flow as  smoothly and beautifully as the first game, but it’s still amazing.  There are also plenty of songs that are great to listen to, even if the  dungeon or fight is rough to get through. Particularly, the factory  dungeon music is a banger, and the music when fighting the Tainted  enemies that are scattered around the map is just fantastic as well.  Even though I think the first game had better music, the first game also  had you sticking in one location for a long time so even the best songs  would get tiring to listen to. That problem isn’t here, thanks entirely  to the revamped gameplay.

Action-RPG combat taken to a whole new level

The first game was some bizarre mix of action-based MMO targeting and auto-attacking like Final Fantasy XII,  Pokemon, and turn-based combat. It was a complete mess, that was fun  when it worked, but just didn’t work that often. The combat got really  fun when Oliver obtained some strong spells on his own, and you could  just dash around the battlefield, nuking enemies with blasts of magic.  The developers realized this as well, completely changing the combat to  make it fully action-based, and it works incredibly well.

Image from GameAxis

The combat plays very similarly to the Tales series, particularly Tales of Xillia.  The player is given free reign to move, roll, strike, and spell-cast  within the combat arena. These combat arenas are also made from the  terrain around the party, similar to Tales of Zesteria. Each of  the party members plays differently, with different styles of combos and  special attacks that can be woven together freely. Some characters may  be more fun to play than others, but it comes down to personal  preference. The first fight I got into was just shocking, especially  compared to the first game. It’s so fluid and just pure fun to play.

The gameplay outside of combat has a great loop as well. The game is  paced well, especially when compared to the first one, with new  locations and dungeons being discovered in short amounts of time. This  is opposed to being stuck in the first major city for four or five  hours. The party explores through the world map, reaches a new location,  sets a waypoint to teleport to freely, and completes their objectives  in that area. It matches the new speed given to the combat and the game  rarely feels like it drags along.

One final aspect that I didn’t think I’d enjoy as much as I did is  the kingdom building and management. As you are the young King Evan, you  must build your new kingdom up to a greatness that can rival any of the  other kingdoms in the world. To do this, the party completes side  quests to recruit citizens, use those citizens to build structures, and  collect resources to build the kingdom stronger. It’s essentially a  small mobile game WITHIN the already incredible main game, and it’s  actually very fun and rewarding to build the kingdom up.

The story of a king uniting the world

The story, even though I still think it’s quite good, is probably the  weakest aspect of the game. The first game had a story that felt like  something out of a Studio Ghibli film (because it kind of was,  basically), and felt fun and whimsical while still having a lot of  emotional weight in it. The story sticks with me even now. Ni No Kuni II  has a more, well, “average” JRPG story. It’s  a pretty basic “team up  with friends to save the world” sort of plot. King Evan’s father is  killed, and his kingdom is stolen by a coup from the evil rat advisor.  Thanks to the help of a stranger from another world, Evan escapes, and  begins his journey to create a country that will unite the world. Along  the way, he meets a number of other colorful characters and only  destabilizes a couple of foreign powers. It reminded me a lot of classic  JRPGs like the ones from Squaresoft’s days. It’s engaging enough to  keep you playing, but nothing too special.

Image from YouTube

The real achievement is that the characters are just as good as the  first game, possibly even more so. Each character is loaded with  personality, even the random citizens that are recruited for the  kingdom. The party is also very charismatic and members work well with  each other, though some of the later party members don’t gel as well as  the first few party members. If you need any more convincing as to how  these characters are so amazing: the stranger from another world is the  President of the United States, who was teleported to the world of Ni No Kuni.  He is trained to use swords and literally shoots a monster in the head  to get rid of it. It’s amazing, and no JRPG will have a character that  comes close being that cool.

Featured image from YouTube

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