Level-5 has established its legacy as one of the top developers of JRPGs and has been furthering that legacy by presenting stories that are influenced and inspired by the legendary Studio Ghibli animation studio to life. The original Ni No Kuni was a milestone collaboration for the two entities and the sequel, Revenant Kingdom, switches gears while improving on the formula with a less monotonous grind and an intriguing focus on the world’s obsession with smartphones.
Maintaining a theme of swiftness, Ni No Kuni II:
I dove into combat and switched between any of my party members, exploiting their individual strengths however I saw fit. There seemed to be a layer of AI for enemy creatures that determined who to attack based on the amount of damage being dealt, but I often felt like I drew the enemy’s attention no matter what. This
Though the game shifts when it comes to gameplay, it's all built on wonderful art design just like the first Ni No Kuni. The Studio Ghibli artistry is in full force once again and the animations from the Higgledies to the humanoid and animal-hybrid characters are top notch. The music feels more memorable in the sequel, as well, but the voice performances are a mixed bag. The performances are fine, but the frequency you hear actual dialogue is inconsistent enough to be annoying.
Considering you’re building a kingdom, it makes sense that Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom also introduces combat that takes place on a larger battlefield. Via mostly optional conflicts, I took the lead character and a few generals into battle to conquer areas. On paper, the conflicts sound epic, but the activity itself is very simple. It boils down to being a mini-game that plays on the rock-paper-scissors unit matchups of more involved tactical
The other major focus in Ni No Kuni II is the hands-on building of your kingdom, Evermore. This aspect of the game wraps resource gathering via participation in side quests in a nice bow. I stated in early impressions of the game that the sequel largely eliminated the horrendous grind of the first game, but that’s not accurate. There are moments that can feel like a grind in Revenant Kingdom, but they’re dressed up better. Kingdom building is a large part of this.
Building Evermore is a part of the main narrative, but the optional advancements to the kingdom flesh out the full experience. How I invest in my kingdom, focusing on getting the best people for improving the Higgledies for example, gave me a chance to craft unique experience geared toward my interests. There are shops you can add, new
Throughout Ni No Kuni II:
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom intensifies the action in its JRPG foundation, mirroring some of Level-5’s best work instead of leaning more heavily on the charm of Studio Ghibli. It’s resulted in a game I continue to enjoy a great deal and a desire for Level-5 to distance itself even further from the animation giant to get a peek at what the developer can do, again, when completely uninhibited in any way.
This review is based on a PlayStation 4 download code provided by the publisher. Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is available on PlayStation 4 and PC. The game is rated T for Teen.