Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is a third-person fantasy role playing game (RPG) that begins in the kingdom of Ding Dong Dell and follows the story of young Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum.
If I had to describe my first impression of the game in a sentence, it would be: Studio Ghibli meets Star Ocean and finally finishes GRRM’s sixth book: A Song of Tom and Jerry.
You are first introduced to this world after you watch The President of an unknown country (that looks suspiciously like the U.S.) narrowly avoid being blown to pieces by a missile, thanks to some timely teleportation magic. After the missile strikes a nearby city, the President, whose name is Roland, dissapears from the back of his limousine and reappears in front of King Evan and discovers that he has had his youth restored.
After some confusion, Roland learns that Evan’s father, The King, has just died of a mysterious and untimely ailment. They then both discover that Mausinger, adviser and assassin of the recently deceased King, is staging a coup and intends to see young Evan dead to secure his rule. Roland offers to help Evan escape and after a few close calls, they barely make it out of the castle with their lives.
Sound exciting? Well here’s an extra twist: Evan is a member of a cat like race called the Grimalkins and the dastardly adviser, Mausinger, has staged the coup on behalf of his people, the Mousekin. After narrowly escaping certain death, Evan, with the help of Roland, sets out to create a new Kingdom where all his people can live happily ever after.
Evan and Roland waste no time getting to work on building a new kingdom. They set out to find a place called the Kings’ Cradle, where they hope to find a Kingmaker: an ancient being that plays an important role in the making of a monarch. They must also brave the wilds, explore the forgotten parts of the world and visit neighboring kingdoms in search of allies and resources that will aid Evan on his grand quest.
At the point in the story where I am now, it’s unclear as to whether or not the young King will seek vengeance for his father and his usurped kingdom. After about 10 hours though, my party has completed the basic construction of Evan’s new kingdom, Evermore, and needs to decide how best to continue strengthening their position.
King Evan serves as the protagonist of the story and most major cut scenes and events will feature him at their center. There are certain points though where you will have the option to explore the world as different characters. Such points include traveling the world map, exploring an instanced zone and in combat. If you so choose, you can put a combat party together that does not include the young King.
Despite having numerous party members, only three playable characters can be used at a time. Each member of the party has special skills, which consume mana on use, and their own set of weapons that gain charge as you engage enemy groups. If you use a special skill with full charge on a weapon, the power of the attack is intensified for explosive results. You are able to switch between characters during combat, as well as the different weapons available to those characters. The game has several options when it comes to managing weapons which include automatic, semi-automatic and manual. The manual setting is recommended only for more advanced players, since staying on top of weapon charge becomes key for more difficult encounters.
In addition to your three playable party members, you will also have the option of recruiting small NPCs called Higgledies. These small delightful creatures look like the long lost cousins of Pikmin and will offer numerous benefits to your party, allowing you more customization for your play style.
Alongside regular combat, there is a skirmish mode that is used to clear out entire sections of the map at a time.
This becomes available after players reach the point in the story where Evan is ready to begin physically building his kingdom and needs space to build it on. The mode features Evan as the commander and sees groups of NPCs battling in rotation, based off the players commands. A point system fuels different actions which include calling for reinforcements to replenish fallen fighters and using special attack moves like rooting the enemy or ordering an airstrike.
First Impression Verdict:
If you’ve been looking for a light-hearted RPG that promises fun game play with lovable characters, an intuitive combat system, an exciting world to explore and that looks great, then I recommend picking up Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom. I suspect that the upcoming release of God of War (tomorrow!) will put this game on hold for a while, but I fully intend to see Evan’s story through.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom retails for $59.99.
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Play it on: PC, PS4