Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is an RPG set in a beautiful fairytale-like world that looks like it came straight out of a Ghibli movie.
Unfortunately, the story in the game didn’t have near as much depth as the visuals might make you expect.
It was a cute story that leads you through the world to fight evil while shunning war at the same time. I get the emphasis on peace and pacifism; that in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but the approach just felt overly childish to me.
For example, major arguments, large scale unrest, and super ultra bad guys were all getting quelled by a kid’s 10 second mediocrely inspiring speech throughout the game. This kind of thing gives me so much disbelief that it actually pulls me out of the game experience to roll my eyes at it. And then there’s the rather large plot holes scattered about, which also broke the continuity of the game’s experience.
The story is enough to get you through the game, and is decent if you’re willing to suspend belief more than you normally would in a fantasy game. But to me, it was lacking depth and felt like a story aimed more at children.
The main party characters are, eh…they’re okay. They’re set up as diverse archetypes, but most of them feel kind of predictable and stereotypical. The two main characters, Roland and Evan, especially felt that way for me. One the strict and smart advisor, the other an inexperienced but good hearted boy king. It was fine, but even after an entire game, I just couldn’t bring myself to get invested in either of them.
The thing I like most about characters in this game though, is the sheer number of them. All the side characters who you meet and recruit to your country made it super fun to gather as many citizens as you could. I really enjoyed getting to see all those mini stories for the side characters.
Despite the mediocre story, the gameplay was one of the strongest points of Ni no Kuni 2.
At first, you were introduced into the game with a familiar, but fun action RPG battle system.
Then you get the higgledies, which are arguably one of the best things in the game. These little guys kept battle fun and fresh from getting old.
And then there are skirmishes, little tactical-battle mini games that I enjoyed a lot. They can be challenging if you don’t keep up with the level but also felt very rewarding.
Last but not least, there was also the kingdom building, which feels similar to what you’d get in some mobile games, but with the added citizens you recruit to your country.
There were so many layers of gameplay to enjoy, which was a really really pleasant surprise to me.
The music was good, and matched with the Ghibli visuals. Which shouldn’t be a surprise since Joe Hisaishi himself had a hand in it.
Maybe it was the difference of mediums though, although the music in game was good, I found myself getting tired of it pretty soon. Which is really strange since, 1) i frequently replay Ghibli movie playlists as background music and never really tire of it. And 2) I have quite a few video games where even though the music was repeated over and over, I would still love it so much that I’d find it online and listen even when I wasn’t playing.
If you were to pick one main point to sell this game on, it would most likely be the visuals. The world, the sceneries, and the movements are all so beautiful and charming. All the main locations, from cities to forests, are memorable and unique. The attention to detail is amazing, from the perfect amount of grittiness in the streets to the animation of characters going down stairs.
Just roaming around and exploring the world was definitely one of my favorite parts of the game.
(Half a star off because main character designs could’ve been better though)
Despite me giving it quite a bit of crap in some areas, this is still a great game and I would recommend it for the experience. It’s a little puzzling that the story is childish yet the gameplay is rather advanced, but it’ll get you through it. At least they get it very right with the visuals and gameplay!