Ni No Kuni returns with its sequel, Revenant Kingdom. Like the previous title, it has something few others can really claim, having a unique visual style. This is like playing a movie by Studio Ghibli, something they’ve kept. They’ve also added to the world and even the characters you explore.
Combat though not the heart of this game is by no means a weakness. It’s got some oddities which do take time to master. Zing and skills are only the start of this. One, Zing, powers the skills, the more you have the more powerful the skill. Each weapon can grant you a skill, some target a single enemy, others area effect. Timing those, using them with care can end an encounter in a single attack or wipe out the minions, allow you to focus on a boss. However, to charge it up, you need to damage creatures with your standard attacks. Ranged weapons also here and are powered by mana. You can use it as a rapid-fire weapon or charge it up for a wider attack. Thankfully, despite a world populated with creatures and monsters, when their name turns blue, you know that they won’t attack allowing to explore far more easily. Also, and even more thankfully, seeing red name is a clear and obvious warning that you should come back later.
The combat is shaken up by the Higgledy’s. These little creatures are described as the essence of life, the elements themselves. While they’re seemingly troublesome creatures, they can bring a lot to you in combat. From what can be quite minor boosts, occasional heals, they can grow into powerful assistants in the heat of the moment. Taking the time to find, learn and improve them can be the thing that turns defeat to victory. As I’ve fought some bosses, tougher creatures, these have become a part of my strategy and keep me going forward.
Kingdom building is perhaps being a bit too generous, when I think about the kingdom mechanic in this game. While you do indeed build, a kingdom. The structures you build must be staffed to work. These structures rely on the second major currency. Upgrading these structures give you access to more resources, necessary to create and improve your equipment. This is a brilliant feature and if not, I would have struggled to find some things I needed for quests. Not only does this kingdom provide you a home, but a proper base of operations to come back to. To see if you have enough to upgrade that structure, the new citizens of Evermore can help you in the structures you have. It’s refreshing, relaxing and brings about a calmer pace if the world, quest, is pushing you too fast.
Broken up into chapters, it’s clear when you’ve completed part of the main story. Largely you’re left to your own devices. While at first, I was lost or chasing the main quest line, I soon worked out there was a lot more to do. Dream Doors are perhaps the first to find and the last you should do. Dungeons that only grow in difficulty the longer you are there, they are a challenge and you should be well and truly stocked up on potions, items before you enter them.
Secondary quests and those relating to the kingdom have kept me more than busy. Finding citizens for the new kingdom is by no means a simple or easy feat. Each requires some form of task to bring to your kingdom. Some are quite simple, as little as kill a few monsters or bring them a certain item. Even ones you can create yourself, in your kingdom. Others are far tougher, requiring you to beat a unique monster. Perhaps the biggest jump in the number I’ve found was through the Taskmaster, being able to unlock another six, seven in a single sitting.
Audio and Visuals
Visually is where this game has shined well above its competition for me. In the style of movies like Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, it was easy for me to let it wash over me. The character and their art style just show off the world perfectly. It also doesn’t have one clear visual style though. When you’re in a town, settlement, you have a very different view. Here you can see these are wonderfully animated and detailed. Out on the world map, it’s a different view again, reminding of a much older Final Fantasy. Cinematics are in the very style of the many Studio Ghibli movies.
When I first loaded up this game I wasn’t sure if I knew the composer. As it turned out, I did. Joe Hisaishi is the composer here; his finger prints are all over the game’s score. This is one of the best features of the game for me. Story combined with his score have just sucked me in. The character voices as well help and easily set them apart. Evan, Roland, Tani and Batu, more, all have distinct characters. Character that their voice easily pass across. Especially Evan as he becomes more confident, sure of himself and his title.
No multiplayer features and I’m going to say I can’t see what they would do.
This is a hard one to give a score to. I have been well and truly entertained as I’ve played this. I’ve enjoyed the story I’ve seen so far, yet there’s always been a feeling of disappointment. I can’t quite place why. There is a very good game here, with a clear and strong visual style. There’s plenty of character and the characters you to follow and a large world to explore. There’s a solid soundtrack and if my ears don’t deceive me it’s by Joe Hisaishi. One of the core pieces to a Studio Ghibli experience. Yet it never quite reaches the height that I found the first could reach. There is a great game here, just one that has failed to really hook me in. Despite everything it has done right.
We’d like to thank Bandai Namco for the review copy provided.