Rarely do we ever see a sequel to a game that improves on everything from the prequel and then some. Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is one of those very rare titles. This JRPG game takes you on a wonderful journey across a variety of locations and while being arguably one of the best JRPGs to have come out in recent times, it has its own identity which makes this game all the more better. Ni No Kuni II is out now on the PlayStation 4 and Windows platforms.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is a standalone sequel that you can play without worrying about the events of the previous game. While it does have nods to the original Ni no Kuni game, they’re not so substantial or important that you’ll feel lost or out of the loop. In Ni no Kuni II you take on the role of Evan, a cat earred boy who is also an exiled king. Evan dreams of bringing all the kingdoms of his world under one rule so that he can have a world where there isn’t war and strife but a place where everyone lives in peace and in happiness. Evan meets a plethora of people along his journey who will join him to help reach his goal for a better world and aid him by lending him their strength, skills and advice. But of course not everyone wants this, which are the people who are in power and don’t want to give up their power. Unlike traditional JRPGs which last around 60 to 70 hours, Ni no Kuni lasts around 30 to 35 hours long which was enough time to develop a lot of characters, including the villain while bringing life to the world you live in. It’s great to see how the characters grow with you through the game.
Another reason why the 30 hours felt alright was because of the pacing of the game. It was really well paced because of which I never felt like I needed to grind which while sometimes is good, can get in the way of progressing the story of a game and I’m glad they kept it this way so I could experience the game organically without having to take breaks to grind and then come back to continue. The side stories and it’s integration with the exploration and the world also helped keep my characters well leveled while also sending me on quests that would be beneficial for me and my kingdom. Yes, my kingdom since this game has a kingdom building aspect which is a big part of the game and if you don’t grow your base enough at certain points, will stop you from progressing your game until you reach that threshold. But with the number of side-quests and the exploration I never felt that this was a problem. Side quests can reward you with loot, resources and even people who will help out in your town and if assigned to what suits them, can unleash the potential of that building.
The biggest change in gameplay which seems to come from the developers listening to the complaints of the first game and fixing it is the inclusion of a real time combat system which is fluid and quite fun. You don’t have to worry about your allies since they can handle themselves quite well and you will never feel overwhelmed due to a huge gap in levels between you and the enemy. Heck, sometimes you’ll even take on enemies above your level because you feel like you can and even succeed which is great. You can choose if you want to focus on loot or experience for drops after battle and even choose if you want gear drops or coins. The system also allows you to switch around points based on your playstyle so you can increase your invincibility frames when you dodge while maybe decreasing your melee damage output and vice versa. It’s a good feature to have which allows players to experiment with their playstyle to find what best suits their needs and also the character’s needs in combat.
Now the game also features what is dubbed the “Skirmish Mode” where you lead an army of men into battle against another kingdom in a rock-paper-scissors type battle. You run up to a horde of enemies and let them duke it out until one army wins over the other. This mode felt sluggish and forced in and was one part of the game I didn’t enjoy but thankfully you are only forced to do this a handful of times. Now with all these modes, systems and open-world ways of exploring the world comes a lot of tutorials on how to properly use the aforementioned tools the game provides you. Thankfully these tutorials aren’t lengthy and boring but give you just enough information at the correct time to allow you to learn to use it while also experimenting with it yourself. It handled this really well which is a big plus for me.
The visuals are breathtaking with gorgeous landscapes and cities and towns that are so different yet so beautiful. No place feels like the other, and the atmosphere and tone that each location sets is truly unique to it which really breaths life into this world. The character voices in English are quite good with the odd dialogue delivery here and there. The English voices were good enough and didn’t really warrant switching to Japanese. There are times when having a conversation with other characters that your character or they will say the dialogue that is written and then for the next dialogue it’ll be back to just phrases or words or just actions. This felt a little jarring because you go from expecting a dialogue to not hearing one or accidentally skipping a dialogue since you didn’t expect one. But this wasn’t that big of a deal but I wanted to point it out nonetheless. What I felt was the weakest part of the game was the soundtrack which seems to overuse a lot of themes from the previous games with a few new ones sprinkled in. For a story so good, I really expected the soundtrack to do it justice but felt let down.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdoms is a game that is a must play. From the combat to the story and characters, it packs a lot of fun and brilliance. While it does have its quirks, the overall game does overshadow those flaws and makes for an experience that gives you just enough due to the great pacing of the game.