Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, the sequel to the first Ni No Kuni from almost 7 years ago, has finally graced our shelves, following on from the amazing success the first game found in the gaming community. Developed by Level-5, NNK2 polished old mechanics of the first game, changes combat over to a faster action style and adding in kingdom building to boot, amongst hundreds of quests and hunts to take on. NNK2 is setup like almost a true old-school sequel, do what the old game did but better, though the change in combat helps keep the series fresh.
Set hundreds of years after the first game, we shift from a magical boy travelling worlds to that of a President who traverses worlds into the setting of Ni No Kuni. Roland, a once president, now stranger in a new land, is dropped in front of a king-to-be Evan, a young cat-human hybrid boy. While their meeting was bumpy, Roland comes around to Evan and vice-versa as the world traveller protects the prince from a coup currently going on in Evan’s castle.
Roland is lucky enough to have used a wooden sword in his childhood and protects Evan long enough to find new allies and a way out of the castle. But, we cannot continue this story on without the death of Evan’s mother figure, no parents are allowed for protagonists! Making our way out of the castle, Evan quickly comes to his main goal, to make a Kingdom where people can live happily ever after, just like in the fairy tale books. Roland agrees to stay and help young Evan, and so our quest for new land, subjects and peace begins.
In the 40+ hours you’ll be spending with the main story, you will traverse the oceans, loot secluded islands and bring people to live in your kingdom. NNK2 offers a wide array of villager quests, to bring them to your kingdom, random collection or hunting quests to purchase items or villager locations, hunts for hard monsters, treasure hunting, upgrading facilities in your kingdom and more. With all the mechanics at your feet, you won’t find a lack of activities to do after the main story is completed.
Moving away from the more charging and monster battles of NNK, this sequel focuses more on the humanoid characters in the world. Roland focuses on swordsmanship, Evan with magic, Tani with spears and bows with later characters bringing with them axes or even more magic. NNK2 is much more action and fast-paced than its predecessor, you have full control of your character, moving them with WASD, dodge rolling with shift, light attack with the left mouse button, heavy attack with the right mouse button. Swapping between characters in combat can be done with the C and V keys.
Magic has also changed, instead of a number you are given 5 mana gems that are used during combat and recharged through attacking or picking up blue orbs. Each character has a set skill and magic setup, with new ones being learned through the story, levelling up or purchasing in the kingdom. They will use varying amounts of mana, from 1 to 2 gems in the early game. You can have up to 4 skills or spells set in your skill palates, using them with the number buttons 1-4.
As you attack your enemies you will also build up zing in the 3 melee weapons you have equipped. From 0 to 100%, increasing the damage dealt with that weapon. If your Zing is at 100% they will also add additional hits to your skills or change them into new ones, but this will bring the Zing of the currently equipped weapon down to 0% again. You can easily swap between weapons with the F button or set it to automatically swap for you in the options.
Higgledies are also a new inclusion, little spritely characters that aid in combat. You can assign 4 main Higgledies in your party who will attack enemies or heal you over the course of combat, they can also morph or use skills if you approach them and press E when they have a circle around them. Transforming into cannons, creating healing auras or protecting against elements, making good use of Higgledies allows for easier and more dynamic combat.
As you defeat enemies, complete quests and recruit villagers you will gain exp, levelling up your character. This will improve their health, damage, resistances as well as gain battle points. BP can be spent in the Tactic Tweaker, allowing you to deal more damage to certain monster types, gain resistances to elements or status effects, increase exp or money drops and upgrade your stats. You will have to make a choice between 2 for each type, however, for example, you can either do more damage to Slimy creatures or Solid ones, or deal more damage to Natural enemies or Reptilian ones. The same applies for resistances, take less damage from fire or resist confusion better.
Besides combat, the world map hasn’t changed too much from the first game, besides morphing into a chibi character. If you bump into a monster you will start a battle, or if you are within levels/dungeons they will prowl around in groups for you to seamlessly run up and attack. Army battles are also included, using troops you have hired for your kingdom.
Army battles allow you to bring up to 4 units, with varying combat styles from sword or spear users to bow or guns users. You have might, which can be used to sprint or increase stats of your army for a certain amount of time. Military might is used to regenerate your units, build watchtowers and use the skills that your units bring with them, from plane bombardments to debuffing your enemies.
Finally, your kingdom, your home base to return to and the main aspiration for our young Evan and president Roland. After a few hours you will gain access to this feature, and from then on will be pushed into improving it through the story and unlocks it provides. Instead of using normal Guilders, you use Kingdom Guilders, gaining a tick of them every 5 or so minutes. You use these KG to build facilities, upgrade them and start research projects. The more you build the higher your influence becomes, increasing how many KG you gain per tick and allowing you to build better facilities down the line. In research, you unlock the ability to craft higher tier arms and armour, improve skills, speed up traversal, increase monster drops and more.
The music in NNK2 is just as stellar as the first game, giving off a sense of adventure, fantasy and energy. Caves sound dark and mysterious whereas the plains sound wide open, dangerous hunts bring in freighting music whereas army attacks are full of sound and vigour. There are a few tracks that take some getting used to or take a bit too long to build up from a scene change, but generally, you can either ignore that or get accustomed to it.
Due to the shift in combat, allowing for easier dodging and becoming more action-based than the previous entry, NNK2 feels easier in general. You can dodge attacks, and attack without relying on the attack gauge or commands. Thankfully, the bosses bring with them a difficulty jump, alongside new mechanics like weak spots, bullet hell and environment changes. Hunts are also quite dangerous if you are under levelled, as it gates your damage dealt based on your level difference, seemingly bringing down your hundreds of damage to mere single digit attacks.
While plenty of the mechanic changes in NNK2 are slight and unnoticeable, the mains ones are not. The change in combat, removal of emotions for villagers and other changes may put some fans of the original game off, however I feel they only improve upon the first games greatness. The combat feels fluid whilst keeping the originals flair and aesthetic, people are still a main concern when you need to help them improve their lives or finish their goals. The kingdom building can feel a bit detached, however, with similar mechanics found within mobile games. The main crux of it is in the waiting, you need to wait minutes to hours for things to be researched or money to come in. While you can leave this to accrue when you go out to complete quests, it can be annoying that a certain mechanic is gated behind a timer.
Overall, Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom gets a 9/10, improving on the prequel, adding in new mechanics and everything makes this on par, if not better, than the first game. Overused voice cues can feel grating at times, alongside some mechanics taking too long are some aspects that do bring the game down a bit. The story is great, with only a few puzzles scattered around, combat is fun and engaging, with plenty of options open to the player during boss battles as well as normal battles. A beautiful shift in mechanics and gameplay to a well-beloved game keeps the series fresh, making this sequel a must have for any RPG or Ni No Kuni fan.