Having been invited to the regal Hever Castle to get my hands on Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, I found myself wishing two things. One, that the game was releasing sooner than late March, and two, that I wasn’t going to be haunted by various spirits during the night.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is one of the best JRPGs on PS3 and whilst it found critical acclaim in the West, it’s not a game that seemed to make its way into many hands. Bandai Namco are pushing its sequel even harder, and now it’s one of the most anticipated JRPGs releasing in 2018 – it helps that it’ll be available on PC, too! Taking place 100 years after the events of the first game, newcomers can jump straight in with only some locales returning, but the new cast of characters and story require no prior knowledge of the series.
Beginning midway through chapter 3, we’re introduced to Goldpaw and its strange way of life. The citizens put their faith into Lady Fortune, and the roll of the die decides how much tax they pay, among other things. In recent months, citizens have been forced to pay 6x the usual tax and, well, there’s something fishy about that, right? King in the making, Evan, along with his ragtag band of buddies decide to look into this, after accruing an incredible amount of debt themselves. Goldpaw loves a bit of gambling, but Evan sure doesn’t!
The magic and awe of Studio Ghibli hasn’t disappeared in any sense.
Goldpaw is a beautiful city which has a few Spirited Away tones to it, and the magic and awe of Studio Ghibli hasn’t disappeared in any sense. Ghibli have less involvement in this game, but the groundwork was laid with the first game and Level-5 are a great developer who’ve been trusted to work primarily alone on the sequel.
Each NPC has something unique to say, and there’re little items laid about everywhere to go searching for. This build is clearly a few months old, evident by the game’s stuttering framerate when exploring the city and characters looking a little pixellated sometimes, but overall it’s a gorgeous game which will certainly look even better in March.
Once you’ve decided to investigate the strange die problem of Goldpaw, you leave the city and take to the world map. Here, you turn into chibi versions of yourselves as you travel the large world map. Enemies are loitering around, and there are plenty of places to stop at on your way to you destination. When you make contact with an enemy, you’re thrust into battle where your normal-sized forms return, and you’re able to experience the game’s vastly improved gameplay mechanics.
With the new kingdom building mechanic, you’ll be able to set up armouries, blacksmiths and more to entice people to support your ambitions, and to help you on your adventures.
Instead of being turn-based, Revenant Kingdom features action-RPG gameplay where you’ll be able to quickly hack and slash your way through your enemies. Special skills are tied to the corresponding shoulder and face buttons, and you’re able to switch between your team of three on the fly, all of who have different strengths.
You can equip three melee weapons and one ranged weapon, and utilising their different stats and buffs is key to defeating some enemies quickly. The new Higgledies, who are super cute, are small creatures who, when they bundle together, can be approached and they’ll buff your character or attack the enemy. They’re colour-coded, and their presence is a great help. Higgledies might save you from falling in battle, along with the game’s responsive roll mechanic — I was rolling everywhere!
What’s a king without a kingdom? Revenant Kingdom tackles this not only in its narrative, but in its gameplay. Kicked out from his own kingdom but a greedy usurper, Evan decides to create his own kingdom that’ll be open to people from all walks of life. With the new kingdom building mechanic, you’ll be able to set up armouries, blacksmiths and more to entice people to support your ambitions, and to help you on your adventures.
It’s not overly deep by any means, at least not from the brief time I had with it, but it’s simple enough that I don’t believe it’ll ever feel like a chore. I’m not really interested in simulators, but acting as king where I could choose what I wanted and see results quickly is very rewarding. I’m worried that later buildings and research plans for stronger gear will take an increasingly long time but, as it stands right now, it’s an addictive mode that anybody can easily sink their teeth into.
I’m not really interested in simulators, but acting as king where I could choose what I wanted and see results quickly is very rewarding.
The last new mechanic we got hands-on with was the Skirmish mode. This RTS-like mode lets you command a group of four different units, which can consist of archers, melee-fighters and other classes, as you use their strengths and weaknesses to rotate them around for the best effect. Again, this uses colour to indicate which is most effective – or not – so you can progress through the game. I didn’t get a lot of time with this mode, but it seems like a pretty fun way to shake things up!
Ni no Kuni II boasts the same heart that its predecessor so wonderfully has.
Ni no Kuni II boasts the same heart that its predecessor so wonderfully has, but a refined combat system and a multitude of new mechanics and modes make this a more engaging experience from a gameplay perspective. Absolutely stunning visuals, a sweeping orchestral soundtrack and a story that seems to be every little bit as deep and magical as the last means that you shouldn’t be skipping Ni no Kuni II, especially if you’re a JRPG fan! I’m very excited, and can’t wait to get my hands on the final release – and that lovely King’s Edition!
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