Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is the newest JRPG from developer Level-5 who is also known for their work on Professor Layton, Dark Cloud, Yo-Kai Watch serieses. A follow up to 2011’s smash hit Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch this entry isn’t a direct sequel. Similar to the Final Fantasy series this is a sequel in name and theme only.
The most impressive part of Revenant Kingdom is the animation and the art style. Even in combat the characters movements are liquid smooth. I would gladly watch an anime that was this high quality. In 4k and with HDR on the colors really pop off the screen. The environments are beautiful and made from a vibrant pallet. My only complaint about the art is the overworld screen. The characters morph into tiny chibi versions of themselves when you walk from different points of interest on the map. This isn’t enough to be a deal breaker and it does speed up moving across the openworld but the trip hole map already speeds up travel as well so it seems like a fix for a system that wasn’t broken to begin with and ends up degrading the highest achievement in the game. But in the grand scheme of things this feels like a trivial detail.
You can read all about my thoughts on combat and the early game here. If you don’t want to make the jump here is a little snippet:
Combat inside the circle plays out in real time. You can guard, dodge, and use skills, on top of heavy and light attacks. You can also have up to 3 different melee weapons and one ranged weapon you can switch between on the fly. Your weapons gain power as you kill monsters and once they reach 100% can be used to unleash more powerful skill attacks.
Like most JRPGs there are a lot of different systems that you are introduced to that have varying degrees of complexity. Thankfully they are not thrown at you all at once. Around the 4 to 5 hour mark you should have planted your flag and set up your city of Evermore and at this point all of the systems should have made themselves apparent. The in game tutorials do a nice job of explaining each system to you and if you didn’t manage to master them all the first time you can look at the tutorial information again in the Help section of the Library.
A few of the latter systems introduced are the Tactic Tweaker, open field skirmishes, Tainted Monsters, and your Citizen Almanac. The Tactic Tweaker acts as both a horizontal and vertical progression system in addition to your characters gaining levels. As you gain levels you gain tactics points to spend on this board. You can mess with settings that affect whether you get better loot or more experience, you can adjust monster affinities which make you stronger against certain monster types, you can also make yourself stronger against certain elements but the trade off is you make yourself weaker to others. The one part of the Tactics Tweaker that is purely a vertical progression is the Arts of War where you can increase your situational defense, heavy attacks, etc.
One of my favorite systems is the tainted monsters. These monsters look very similar to other monsters in their family only they are stronger. The very first tainted monster I fought was extremely challenging because I was drastically underleveled. At that point it was the only challenging fight in the game I had encountered though. Most of the other early tainted monsters didn’t live up to that level of difficulty but they do reward you with a vast sum of guilders and equipments. They are worth hunting down in the world and destroying. Some of them are marked as purple icons on the overworld map but others are hidden in caves and you will have to hunt them down.
The Field Skirmishes are representative of the results of Evan building up his army through diplomacy and then making use of the fruits of his labors against bandits and other various enemies. Skirmishes playout on the overworld map with units of chibi characters surrounding Evan. Each unit has a strength and a certain type of attack. Each attack type is strong against another attack type but weak against another. This forms a weapon triangle similar to what you can find in Fire Emblem or other strategy games. In addition to units there are cannons, towers, and other strategic points you can take and capture. While overall this is a functional system it is one of the least engaging by far.
One fun item is that Level-5 design managed to work Yo-Kai into the game. Whether they will admit it or not that is exactly what the Higgledies are. These small spirits/elementals/forces of nature are everywhere throughout the world. You can even find them hiding in scattered stones. Present them with the correct offering and they will join you on your crusade. You can have a number of different higgledies active in your party at once and each brings their own support feature whether that is elemental damage, healing, or some other type of buff.
One of the highlights of the game is building up your kingdom of Evermore. Once you align with your kingmaker and capture your plot of land through a skirmish Roland will give Evan a briefing on what he should do next. Part of the way you build up your city is by completing side quests for potential citizens scattered throughout the world. Some of these quests are as simple as gathering items while others require you to complete more complex quests like killing tainted monsters. Each of the citizens has certain strengths and weaknesses that will make them best suited to work at specific buildings, such as the armory, in your kingdom. In addition to generating kingsguilders, or money to be spent on city and skirmish upgrades, your citizens will collect items for you.
Loot in Ni No Kuni II is everywhere. In this way the game feels similar to an ARPG than a traditional JRPG. You can hold on to these items and build sets of gear that have certain elemental affinities that can help you with tainted monsters and other difficult encounters.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is a solid entry into the Ni no Kuni franchise and another good RPG from the developers at Level-5. If you like games in the Star Ocean or Tales franchise chances are you’ll like this game as well. If you are a fan of older games like Suikoden or Dark Cloud where you focus on building a kingdom or city you’ll find plenty to like here too.
- Great visuals
- Lots of interesting characters
- City Building
- Chibi Graphics Overworld
- Monotonous combat