Wednesday 15 August 2018

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom ★★★★☆

Level 5 have never really got the attention they rightly deserve. Having developed some of the best JRPGs and bizarre games over the last three generations. Dark Cloud, Dark Chronicle, Dragon Quest VIII and the Professor Layton series to name a few. It's no real wonder Studio Ghibli, one of Japan's most famous animation studios, picked up on this and were more than happy to work on a project together. This was quite a big deal, as Ghibli had previously turned down the legend that is Shigeru Miyamoto, when he'd pitched making a game together. So they clearly saw something special in Level 5.

Unlike the first game, Ghibli were not directly involved with development of Revenant Kingdom. However top Ghibli character artist, Yoshiyuki Momose, was around to help out and the game's overall on point art design. The score was again done by Joe Hisaishi, albeit a bit underwhelming. Level 5's own Akihiro Hino, of Dragon Quest VIII and Dark Cloud/Chronicle, again wrote the game's main story. So if you've played those, you'll already have a good idea of what you're getting into. They even added some town building this time, a common theme in his games.

Other than taking place within the same world, there's no need to worry about missing out on the first game. Apart from the fact that you missed out on an awesome game, not much carries over. Set about 600 years later, but still in a backward time, where Beastiality's the norm and humans, animals and humanoid animals all live as one. Evan Pettiwhisker of the House Tildrum, a half cat, anime stereotypical, ridiculously naive and overly enthusiastic protagonist is trying to claim his rightful place on the Iron Throne and rule Ding Dong Dell with dreams of everyone living happily ever after. Unfortunately, Social networking has found its way into this magical kingdom, so it was only a matter of time before people started conspiring against each other and spread the hate, via Leafbook. Lord Mousinger throws a sly mutiny, on the day of Evans crowning Ceremony, in an attempt to take the throne for himself and so that the mouse people can rule the kingdom. Roland, the president from a different dimension, is sucked through a wormhole and winds up getting caught up in the middle of this betrayal. After some convincing he's in danger, he helps Evan escape the castle to regroup, rebuild and reclaim his rightful place as the one true King.

The most glaring changeup is the revised combat system. Revenant Kingdom Has gone for a more hack and slash approach, somewhere between Kingdom Hearts and Eternal Sonata. Those expecting a repeat of the previous game might be slightly put off but I quite liked it, even if it is a bit on the simple side. I never found myself feeling underpowered and needing to grind. The collecting of various monsters, to raise, has also been done away with and replaced with Auntie ‘Batman defence’ Martha and her Higgledies; that will support you during battle. Higgledies come in various color coded types and shapes. One looking close to the forest spirits from Princess Mononoke, a kidney bean and another similar to a Chao, from Sonic, and a couple more variants. Once out in the Overworld Map, characters take on a more chibi design, only to return back to the more Ghibli approach inside of main areas, such as towns, dungeons and battles. Little Chibi enemies are wondering the map, like evil hamsters representing these battles, which become slightly more of a hindrance as the game needs to load into a fight area each time. This is only a manner of seconds, but when during the rest of the game you can just walk straight up to enemies, and start whaling on them, it makes it sort of stupid and tedious.

If you ever wanted to live in the world of Spirited Away or just inside the aesthetic of Miyazaki's head, Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom Has you covered. It's very cute, amazingly animated, extremely pretty to look at and has that hint of something a lot darker lurking underneath.
Ni No Kuni will bring out the weeaboo child in all of us.

Bry Wyatt

Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom at CeX

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