It may have recently seen yet another short delay of its release date – it’s now out on 23rd March – but Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is chock full of surprises. At GamesCom we were introduced to the Skirmish battles, but at a recent event we were shown a lot more of what to expect from the full release, including a brand new Kingdom Building mode. There’s certainly a lot going on in the game, but from what I played of the game this week, it’s shaping up to be quite the adventure.
During my time with the game, I played through most of the events of Chapter 3, taking place in Goldpaw – a town Evan and his entourage discover is in the middle of a crisis. Everything in the town is decided by the roll of a die, whether it’s a bet, a score to settle, a trial, or even the taxes that the citizens are required to pay.
This rather large town is a sight to behold, taking inspiration from Taiwanese infrastructure, and exploring it was made even more enticing by the characters in the party. Up until now we’ve not had much in the way of seeing how they’d interact and Roland’s backstory seems all the more interesting after this. I won’t say much more about it, since it’s better to discover this for yourselves, but the narrative heavy Chapter 3 was a fantastic way of introducing us to the cast of characters.
Resolving the mystery which relied on learning a spell that affects the world map and terrain in the dungeon itself, leading to a boss encounter that people have seen before with Longfang – the city’s dragon-like guardian who is on a bit rampage. The characters were certainly not over-levelled in this build, as the boss frequently required me to activate the red coloured Higgledies to have a fire protecting shield.
Higgledies are by far the most unique element of Ni No Kuni 2, and while I’m still unsure how to generate them, the new Kingdom Building part of the game that was unveiled at the event provides clues as to how to do so. During the course of Chapter 4, side quests were revealed that allowed us to do favours for citizens of other towns or, in one particular case, an old woman who lost a scouring pad. Once completed, they will move into your town and provide their services.
It was while helping with the missing scouring pad that a mysterious young woman appeared to tell us about the existence of Dream Doors. These challenge dungeons are reminiscent of recent Persona game dungeons in that they are randomised. All the while, a timer in the top of the screen slowly increases to show the amount of danger the party would be in. While I didn’t spend a lot of time in these dungeons, as I wanted to see more of the other parts of the game, they seemed like a thoughtful inclusion.
We also had a bit more time with the Skirmishes, which we last saw at GamesCom last year, and it’s clear that the new Kingdom Building mode plays a huge part in how you customise your lineup. Depicted by flags in the overworld map, reminding myself of how to play was a bit of a challenge without the challenges that will come in an earlier part of the game.
It increasingly seems that Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom’s most important element may actually be building Evan’s kingdom. If you’ve ever played Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life As A King, or Little King’s Story, it’s a little similar to that in that as you build your facilities, research new skills or items to sell in shops, and dig into his coffers to invest in future projects. Having certain citizens work in certain facilities provides bonuses. While I didn’t get a lot of time with this, it definitely felt like a more important aspect of the game.
I’ve enjoyed Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom every time I’ve played a build of the game and am now immensely looking forward to playing the full version. It may be drastically different from the original, but that works for the likes of Final Fantasy or any other RPG with a long and storied history. I see no reason why it can’t work for Level-5’s latest potential masterpiece as well.