After fours hours of play, there’s a lot new in Ni No Kuni 2

by on February 9, 2018

The kingdom of Evermore needs your help.

Let it be known that Ni No Kuni: Wrath of The White Witch is one of my favourite JRPGs of all time. The world, characters, music, and story was everything that I loved about the genre. Getting the opportunity to get a hands-on playthrough of the upcoming sequel, Revenant Kingdom, had me both very excited, and very curious.

I got to start immediately in the open world section (skipping the intro and starting at Chapter 3) and my main objective was to reach the town of Goldpaw. However, within seconds I was able to jump into the newly revamped combat. In the first game, combat was turn-based and I enjoyed it immensely, but I did feel it was slightly convoluted and a tad daunting in its mechanics, especially for someone who might not have played a game of this style before. The combat of Revenant Kingdom, though, is far more accessible. For anyone familiar with the “Tales of” series, you will feel right at home. Taking place in real-time, the combat is very fast and frantic. I love it so far, but I am a fan of the Tales series.

It’s very easy to pick up and understand the combat, with square and triangle being your attacks, R2 gives you your choice of spells to cast, and the D-Pad lets you switch between characters and weapons. It’s all very smooth and responsive.

Within combat, you no longer have Familiars. This was something I have to be honest in saying that I really missed. I loved the personalities from all of them in the previous game. This time we are introduced to Higgledies. The only way I can describe them is that they look like Pikmin who have been in the pub for a week straight. The animation in their eyes is this mad frantic, psychotic stare. Within the combat, they offer you a variety of buffs: you just simply run into a circle of them and press cross.

The town of Goldpaw is incredible to behold. Studio Ghibli fans fear not, even without the return of the studio, this game still manages to capture the charming visual aesthetic from the first game. Every building and character within the town of Goldpaw I saw was vibrant and dripping with personality.

Goldpaw itself seemed to be a town that I feel a lot of people can relate to in this day and age especially: the town folk seems to be under high amounts of debt that is decided by the roll of a dice – the rise or fall of how much tax needs to be paid crippling people’s finances upon what seems like the whim of lady luck. And it is here that Evan, Roland, Tani, and Lofty (the new Drippy) feel that there is some kind of scam going on, so they decide to figure it out.

Within the world you will come across glowing flags, and these allow you to access Skirmish mode. When it was first announced I honestly wasn’t that keen on it, but after a couple of rounds and getting to understand the mechanics I began to really enjoy it. This is where the personalities of the Higgledies come to life. Before you head into battle, you must plan your attack by picking the right army of Higgledies and reading over what kind of enemies that you will be facing.

When the battle begins it’s hard to not smile at what is going on, because dozens of Higgledies charging at each other is actually pretty fun to control. I’m now very excited to play more of it come full release.

Later in Chapter 4, I activated a side quest that introduced me to another new gameplay element, a mysterious door that leads you into the Dreamers Maze, where I found a dungeon crawling area. There are levels to advance to within the maze, but the longer you stay in there, the harder it gets. The percentage of time constantly progresses and the enemies get more challenging, but you can either take the risk and achieve great rewards and orbs, or you can warp back to the entrance and leave. How far and fast you want to go, is up to you.

And lastly, we have kingdom building. You have to build the kingdom of Evermore: a place that Evan strives to make a wonderful and peaceful place to live for his friends and everyone else. You must go out to the world and earn gold, build facilities to make weapons and armor, food, a nursery for Higgledies, and much more.

My four hours with Revenant Kingdom barely scratched the surface, and this was to be expected, but there is a lot of content on offer here. It is shaping up to be a brave sequel that Level-5 has created. A sequel that has added features that some fans will either love or hate. The kingdom building is the one part that I am very interested in seeing how it plays out come the full release, but so far, the story of Evan seems like a great adventure, and one that looks like it is going to have a very uplifting tale to be told.

Bandai Namco paid for our travel and hotel for this press trip, which took place at a castle! An actual castle!