Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is a breathtaking, magical experience. Level 5 have crafted an adventure full of joy, sadness, comedy, and magic. I would go as far as to call Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom the best RPG that Level 5 and Bandai Namco have ever produced.
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom begins in a middle of a coup in the kingdom of Ding Dong Dell: A kingdom where humanoid feline and rodent spices leave together in peace and harmony, Evan Tildrum is set to take the throne after his father’s untimely death. Before his coronation celebration, the Rodent spices launch a coup to take over the kingdom executing everyone loyal to the former king.
Evan narrowly escapes with his new friend Roland and together they set off on a journey to create a brand new kingdom and unite all the kingdoms of the world under unity and peace. Of course Evan’s plans don’t always go according to plane and the story of Ni No Kuni 2 explores the hardships of ruling a kingdom and its people.
Ni No Kuni 2: A Pure-Hearted Story
There is more to the story but I won’t ruin it in this review as RPGs are one of the few genres where the story makes up half of the experience. What makes the story wonderful to experience is Evan’s own growth. Evan is essentially still a child and his views of simply wanting world peace is constantly challenged by difficult decisions he has to make that go against his own beliefs and understanding, this makes his journey a very personal one not just to him but to me.
My only problem with the story is the way its delivered. When cut-scenes play they are fantastic to watch but – right as they get good – the game cuts out to show you the characters just standing around talking with dialog bubbles and no voice overs. Then four dialog bubbles later it cuts to another cut-scene that’s fully animated and voiced for six or seven seconds and than cuts away again. What makes it worse is that every time a new dialog bubble appears you get a random voiced word from the character talking that doesn’t even match the first word in the sentence.
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is a massive world with an incredible amount of space to explore. Outside of the traditional dungeons, the game features a massive world map to explore just like the first title and RPG’s of the past. Exploring the world map is a blast. Hidden chest and materials are scattered throughout the land, hidden dungeons and powerful bounty hunts are are yours to tackle.
The gorgeous open world downscales the character models into a small chibi art-style. The small characters and monsters are absolutely adorable to look at. It feels like a drastic change from the normal-sized characters you will see when you enter towns or dungeons, but the great art design manages to blend the two perfectly
Ni No Kuni 2: A Change in Form
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom features three different distinct types of game modes, and all of them are a blast to play. Most of my time was spent playing though like a traditional RPG, the second type of game mode is Skirmish: a strategy mode that plays like the old Vita title Army Corps of Hell. The third and final mode is the kingdom builder.
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom moves away from the original games monster recruiting combat for a more traditional action combat system. Combat is simple but complex at the same time. Each character can equip up to thee weapons based on their weapon preference.
Each weapon builds up a proficiency up to 100%. This proficiency determines how powerful your skill attacks will be. If its at 100% it can even add a cool benefit like setting enemies on fire or increasing attack power.
Preforming skills takes up Mana which is represented by blue gems next to each characters health bar. Mana doesn’t regenerate on its own and you must attack with physical strikes to regain Mana. Mana is also used for long range attacks which each character is able to preform. I felt like the mana system creates an amazing balance which allowed me to use my skills without having to worry about running out of mana and using items to replenish it.
Another great aspect of combat are the “Higglidies” These small creatures look a lot like Pikmin and function in sort of the same way. The Higglidies accompany you to battle and provide support like throwing out healing items and attacks on the enemies. Some of them will gather together with a big circle that will appear around them.
If you approach the circle you’ll be able to activate a special skill that the unique Higglidies have. Some will create a healing circle that will regenerate character health, create cannons that will bombard the battlefield, or simply pull off a powerful attack. There are a hundred Higglidies to find and create in the world but you can only equip four at a time so there is plenty of work to be done for the hardcore completionist.
Higglidies can be leveled up to increase their stats as well. They won’t level up in the traditional sense and must be fed fruit and vegetables. Later on in the game you will unlock a location that allows you to feed the Higglidies and even create new ones using various materials you discover. It’s a great system and can also be a huge time sink when you really look into the Higglidies and mess around with them to find a great balance for the situation you find yourself in.
One interesting and innovative option that Ni No Kuni 2 provides is your ability to mess around with your characters affinity attributes. The “Tactic Tweaker” allows you to go in and set up specific element resistance and how much exp and guilders (money) you can earn. Every time you level up you will get a Battle Point. Each Battle Point must then be used to unlock a level out of the four available options. Monster Affinities, Elements and Ailments, Spoils Settings, and Arts of War.
Every time you want to change anything in these settings you must pay the right amount of Battle Points to first level up one of the options and than go in and change one of the attributes but for each one you increase you end up decreasing another. So if you want to have a higher resistance to fire you in turn will become more susceptible to confusion. If you want to do more damage to plant type enemies you will than take more damage from reptilian type enemies.
The Tactic Tweaker is an incredibly unique tool but it never feels like it unbalances the game and still allows you to go in and change the options in the areas you have already put points into to help give you an advantage in the situation you’re in.
Assemble the Toops
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom has a great little strategy mode called “Skirmish.” In Skirmish you take control of Evan along with four other generals and their army. Skirmish takes place on the world map with the small chibi character look and sees you taking on another armies in the regions.
You start off by looking at the map where the enemy placements will be located and the types of enemies you will face off. The battles themselves play like a rock, paper, scissors mechanic. Each army has its own specific general who comes with their own attack type. Sword, Spear, and Hammer. Sword Warriors are great against Hammer Warriors, Hammer Warriors are great against Spear Warriors, and Spear Warriors are great against Sword Warriors.
There are other types like archers and gunners – these are considered universal warriors and don’t give a benefit one way or another. Checking which types of enemies you will face off against is essential to bringing along the right warriors for the battle. When Skirmish begins the four armies surround Evan. As you move around the battlefield you must rotate your armies to put the favorable units against the enemies you encounter.
Skirmish battles are determined by “Might”. Might is used to determine everything you can do in Skirmish. As you battle you will lose might which is determined by your chibi units being removed from their army. At the cost of your might you can replenish your units back to max and continue your battles. Might is also used to launch special attacks that your armies can do.
Special Attacks can quickly change the flow of battle, launching an airstrike can clear a field of enemies in an instant or you can give your armies a defensive boost. Special Attacks cost a lot of Might to use and risk of using them can be costly if you aren’t careful. Skirmish battles also have command centers to destroy and take command of allowing you to replenish forces free of charge. Later Skirmishes also add watchtowers and cannons that attack your armies which can be captured and turned to serve your army.
The One True Kingdom
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom allows you to create your own Kingdom. After the coup, Evan must build a new kingdom to unite the world in peace. Kingdom building is addictive and some of the most fun I’ve had in a building simulator in a long time. Building the kingdom of Evermore requires resources and citizens to work in your kingdom.
In order to build new facilities for your kingdom you must procure Kingsguilders to build those facilities which you will earn overtime. Some of them even require other buildings to be built first and some require specifies abilities to be unlocked. Disappointingly, you aren’t able to build structures wherever you want and can only build them in designated slots.
As you build facilities you must assign citizens to work in the facilities. Each citizen has for attributes that are represented with specific icons: War, Ingenuity, Spritecraft, and Conjury. Each citizen has points in these attributes that makes them more suitable for one job than another. Some of the citizens will also be specifically suited for a job which will be indicated with a golden icon next to them.
Building your own kingdom isn’t a necessity to finish the game but it does present a lot of great passive additions to the party. Most of the facilities in your kingdom can preform “research.” Most of the research is standard things you would expect like building better armor or adding to the selection of items that can be sold in the general store.
Some of the more important facilities allow you to research passive abilities. Abilities like increasing your movement speed and as I mentioned earlier creating your own Higgledies. Upgrading your buildings will also unlock new research you’re able to complete and increase how many citizens can be placed into each facility. One thing to note about researching is that every time you research something you must wait real world time before the research is complete.
Citizens are recruited in various different ways. Some are gathered by completing story missions, but the majority will join your kingdom when you complete tasks for them. Ni No Kuni 2 has a plethora of side-quests to complete. Most of these side-quests are ones you would expect in a JRPG. Kill this monster, or fetch me this item which kind of hurts the quests as some of the side characters are fun to talk to and the world is just a joy to learn about.
In Ni No Kuni 2 completing side-quests not only rewards you with items but also with the recruitment of the quest giver into your kingdom. For those looking to build their kingdom, side-quests are a must to complete. The other type of questing comes from “Swift Solutions.” These quests much like the side-quests have you hunting down monsters and finding materials. The pay off with these missions comes in the form of “Tokens of Gratitude”
Completing missions from Swift Solutions will net you Tokens of Gratitude which you can than exchange for items, equipment, and most importantly information on citizens that are willing to join your kingdom.
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is one the most beautiful titles on the PlayStation 4. Once again adapting the art style made famous by Studio Ghibli. Ni No Kuni 2 is like a painting come to life. From the incredible animations and moister designs to the fantastic fire and water effects. The same can be said for the titles superb soundtrack. The orchestral tracks are beautiful and fit the world perfectly.
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is one of the best JPRGs of this console generation. Everything it does is masterfully crafted to give you the best experience you can possible have. The RPG elements, the skirmish battles, and the kingdom building not once left me bored or uninterested. It truly is pure greatness.