Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is the type of game that you didn’t know you needed in your life until you play it. I was heavily engrossed in the first one for a good 20 hours until something better came out, and I got a little bored. I’m not sure if I would blame that on the game or my personality.
This sequel takes elements from the first game (some good and some bad) and entwines them with new elements which make this one of the most original JRPGs I have played.
The story starts with Roland (the US President) travelling in his fancy motor, then BOOM! Some form of bomb goes off and he finds himself deep in the heart of Ding Dong Dell, caught in the depths of a heart breaking betrayal. This is where you meet Evan and Aranella. Evan (the child who was about to be King) was betrayed, and after the death of Aranella, decides that he is going to go and create his own kingdom. This isn’t as straight-forward as some might think, and unravels your 40+ hour adventure.
Having reviewed a fair few RPGs recently, I found that they had all lacked something a little special. Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom does not lack that special ingredient and is, by far, the best RPG I have played for a number of years. Saying that, it definitely has a number of faults to spoil what makes it so great.
When it comes to graphics, there is absolutely nothing wrong with what’s on display. A classic mixture between cel-shaded characters epitomising the anime scene, with imaginative backgrounds. The colours are vibrant and the backgrounds are far from plain which make a real difference between this and other anime games of late. What is most lovable here, is the attention to detail with the character design. In every shot, you’ll realise the character is always at the forefront and looking sharp. This is fitting with the game, as it is all about the characters and their story. My only gripe is how the game looks when you enter the world map…
The whole aspect changes to become less like you expect, and more like World of Final Fantasy. The change is actually quite carefully done, but I just found myself getting annoyed with how it looked once the change had been made. Despite that, the smaller Bobble head-style characters meant that you can see an extensive area whilst on the world map, and calculate carefully where you are going, and the enemies you will face on your travels.
The sound has some great characteristics as well as my biggest gripe about the game. The music is decent and builds up with each moment. Character sounds are solid, believable and extremely Japanese and all the menu sounds are what you would expect them to be. However – and this is a big one – they massively messed up the character speaking. I mean, the sync is all fine, and even better than you would expect from most Japanese ports, but it is the lack of times that the characters move from written subtitled dialogue to a video sequence.
This was a big part of the first game and clearly one of the most enjoyable but, instead of these amazing video sequences, they decided that they would show an incredibly short sequence and then fill the rest of the scenes with annoying noises, matched with varying written dialogue. I am pretty sure there was one moment in the game where my character made a “That’s amazing!” noise whilst the written dialogue said “I can’t do this”. At the start, this really annoyed me, but after a while I managed to forget about this and, even though I missed the amazing cinematic scenes of old, life went on.
There have been some severe changes to the gameplay compared to the previous title. The biggest one has to be the fighting. Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is not a turn-based RPG, but is now a real time, button-bashing action-type of game, similar to Final Fantasy XV. I have to say – I loved this. Admittedly, the skill level was definitely decreased, and at no point did I feel that I had to really work for a win, in battle. This meant that, at times, I was fighting opponents ten levels higher than me and still destroying them easily. However, it must be said that even though the fighting was easy, I never got bored of it and enjoyed the pacey button bashing fights. A slight annoyance, though, was the use of the character targeting. You need to press a button to target an enemy, but then as soon as you have quickly killed them, it will target you to the next one – the problem is, the camera will change and slightly disorientate you. Also, to change who you are targeting, you need to press a button which is awkward to touch because of where you’re bashing the attack buttons.
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is not just a real time action JRPG, though, there are a range of other aspects to its gameplay. You have skirmishes: these are like old school Command and Conquer battles where you have to battle another army led by a cocky warrior. You can call in special moves like bomber runs and set up bomb-style turrets by destroying the enemies’ bases first. Truthfully, I really didn’t like the skirmish mode and I was glad that you didn’t have to be involved in many, but I can see the appeal to some.
In addition, you have the option to build your own base, which you’ll do so around your castle, and each area you build will help you develop your weapons/armour/items throughout. At the start, it’s explained in a long and complicated way, but then when you’re a few hours in, you’ll realise that it is all relatively straight-forward. It can be incredibly time-consuming, but will also help your journey. Many times, I needed a particular item and was able to obtain it through the items menu in my kingdom. This is helpful for a lot of the side missions, as you often have to acquire an item to give to a character.
Overall, Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom will offer you a lot of variation which stops you from getting bored at all. It offers more than any other JRPG I have played in a long time, and delivers on most fronts. Even though the story isn’t quite as invigorating as the previous instalment, it managed to completely capture me. The side missions weren’t particularly inspiring and gaining new people for your kingdom became, at times, slightly monotonous, but I just carried on. Something about this game will hook you in and you won’t be able to stop playing until you’ve done pretty much everything.
Even with the negative changes, Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom has that special factor that makes it the best JRPG I have played since Final Fantasy VII, and that is really saying something.
- Developer: Level-5
- Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Players: single-player
- HD options: up to 1080p
I have been a video game player since 1993 and a music fan since I can remember. I studied Film and Journalism at university and ended up becoming a Primary School teacher. Video games changed my life and sent me on the right track and have stayed with me ever since.