Also On: PS4
Publisher: Bandai Namco
You cannot talk about Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom without discussing the heavy influence Studio Ghibli has over the series. Although not directly involved with this game like they were with its predecessor in 2013, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, their influence and design is still incredibly apparent. If you ever sat and watched a Studio Ghibli film and found yourself wishing you would be transported to that world, look no further than Revenant Kingdom.
Every detail in Revenant Kingdom has been meticulously crafted to give not just the look, but the feel of a Studio Ghibli movie. Level-5 has really stepped up their game and has taken full advantage of the power that modern gamers have access to. Nothing felt out of place, and it is always beautifully rendered, whether you are in the sewers running from monsters or looking out across the sprawling countryside, there is always some level of beauty to marvel at. The character animation is no less impressive, with the movement and combat in game looking just as amazing as the pre rendered cutscenes. The game fully supports ultrawide resolutions as well, which is an added bonus if you have the PC hardware to take advantage of it.
The game doesn?t take its time spinning up, you are first shown a shot of Roland, President of an alternate United States, watching as a nuclear missile destroys the city he is currently in. Right before the blast turns him into dust, he is transported to the magical land in which Revenant Kingdom takes place. He reappears, several decades younger, in the bedroom of Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum, the young prince of Ding Dong Dell. Evan is set to take the throne after the unfortunate death of his father just a short time before, but an evil villain appears to usurp the throne so Roland and Evan soon find themselves running and fighting for their lives.
If you missed the first Ni No Kuni game, do not fret, as there is no need to have played the original to enjoy Revenant Kingdom. There are some cute references and throw backs, but nothing relies on the original to get by when it comes to story. All of the things that Wrath of the White Witch did well, and even the things that it didn?t do so well, have been improved upon in Revenant Kingdom. The biggest departure from its predecessor is the combat. A stylized, semi turn-based system not unlike Final Fantasy XV has replaced the Pokemon-esque battle system that the first one had. Active switching between party members, along with item usage and ability management for both the player character and the other party members bring a real depth to the battle system. The majority of what you are doing in Revenant Kingdom is combat based, so the new system and substantial upgrades are certainly welcome. My only real complaint with the combat is how easy it is. Once you learn the dodge and roll mechanics, as well as how to block correctly, you can tackle enemies that are way above the level you should be fighting at with relative ease.
The actual story in Revenant Kingdom is much deeper and more well defined than the original. Instead of working to take back his kingdom after he is forced to flee, Evan spends the game making his way around the world forming alliances, helping other countries and seeking to form an entirely new kingdom of his own. This journey is more emotionally mature and darker than expected at times, while retaining that lighter and more carefree attitude that you expect from a game such as this at other times. The writing is well done, although the voice acting tends to fall a bit flat. The sudden transitions from full voiceover to partial is jarring, and the voice actors do not always lend the amount of emotion to the story that the writing clearly calls for.
In addition to the combat, a large portion of what you will spend your time doing is building your kingdom, be it through the construction of buildings or the creation of trade and commerce, there is plenty to be done to get the new kingdom up and running. This is where a lot of side quests and world exploration comes from, and allows the game to stretch out the hours without feeling tedious or repetitive. Each person you are able to sway to help you brings a noticeable benefit, and the more your kingdom begins to thrive the more you are able to succeed. Nothing feels pointless or out of place, and the questing all feels as though it ties in to the story at large.
Revenant Kingdom is a more than worthy successor to Wrath of the White Witch, and it is arguably more accessible than ever before. Even for players that are new to not only this series, but to JRPGs as a whole, Revenant Kingdom has something to draw you in and get you hooked. The world, the story, the combat, the base building, something here will grab you and keep you. There is plenty of content to dig into, and you will not find yourself bored for quite a while with all that Level-5 has given you.
Note: Bandai Namco provided us with a Ni No Kuni 2 Steam PC code for review purposes.