Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

a young blond boy in a red cape on a castle balcony facing away from the camera towards a kingdom
Bandai Namco
4
Tuesday, Jul 17, 2018

Before I say anything else, I just want to say, without qualifications, that I had a lot of fun playing this game.

I've previously talked about the first game in this series, but you're not going to be missing masses of plot if you start in with this one. There's a shared world—separated by centuries and what looks to be some continent-reshaping disasters—a similar art style, a handful of inside jokes, and a mythologized retelling of the first game's plot. Literally everything else is different.

The battle system is one of the biggest changes. Rather than throwing your creatures into fights for you, you are in a classic adventure RPG system. Which is not to say you're completely out of adorable critters to fight with: you now have higgledies as support monsters. There is something unbearably cute about the tiny little monsters running around and doing victory dances after battle. You'd think they would be an annoying gimmick, but they're actually useful, whether they're providing support in the form of healing and protection or helping attack. Your other party members have a pretty decent AI as well, so I rarely found any problems with battle. (For those wanting more of a challenge, I played before the v1.03 update that added difficulty levels. You can pick harder fights, now.)

There are two major types of side events: city building and tactical battles. Recruiting citizens for your new country and building it into a world power was just fun, and changing pace every so often to fight off bandits or monsters with armies was refreshing.

All of that said . . . I typically prefer to play games for plot and character, and excellent gameplay is a delightful bonus, but not a pure requirement. Revenant Kingdom tried so very hard to have depth of character and a twisty plot, but it all came across as pretty shallow. It's a gorgeous game, visually, and the soundtrack is both beautiful and catchy, and I much preferred fulfilling side quests to advancing the main plot. The only other thing I don't like is something that's increasingly common in games: having things you can't do until you finish the main plot. I want to do everything, and then have a tidy finish. I don't like it when games make me wrap up the story and keep me hanging on to get my completionist tendencies satiated. I had some irrational rage at being made to finish the plot, rewind it to a previous point, and only then be allowed to recruit every citizen and complete my city. Developers, take note. Post-game content is fine, but don't force it. /rant

Overall, with the occasional jarring moment of pure horror, this is a light, fun, happy game that's enjoyable to play and elicited quite a few laughs and squeals of cuteness. Even in spite of the lack of depth, I still fell a little in love with Roland, and to a lesser extent Evan (the two primary characters), and enjoyed interacting with the sheer variety of 100 recruitable citizens and even more NPCs. I haven't really relayed the plot at all, pretty much because I feel it plays better if you don't know what's coming.

If you like the classic RPG feel of overworlds and towns, or you like the Zelda-like action-adventure feel, odds are good you'll enjoy this. If you don't please tell me why in the comments and we can discuss it.

Written by Rachel C.