Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is a masterpiece (review)

Evan's Coronation

Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom – A Breath of Fresh Air

JRPGs provide some of the greatest stories, characters and music in video games. Their stories are engaging and larger than life. The character designs are striking and beautiful, and the music is touching and unforgettable. While this may not seem limited to the JRPG genre, it certainly is a cornerstone of the experience. This is where Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom comes in. With eight years passing since the release of the first game, the sequel comes at a time where JRPGs seem to be entering a renaissance. Games such as Final Fantasy and Persona have used the same formula in their games for decades now. This isn’t to say that their mechanics are tired because, in most cases, they’re still brilliantly utilized.

Level-5 has taken the time to examine the genre and try to breathe some new life into it. With Studio Ghibli artists creating spectacular character designs and composer Joe Hisaishi’s amazing score, the game comes to life. Ni no Kuni 2 crafts a story so rich with gameplay so rewarding, that it should be the new standard.

The Tale of a Boy King

Ni no Kuni 2’s story picks up hundreds of years after the original. It follows the tale of Evan Pettiwhiskers Tildrum, the young king of Ding Dong Dell. Following a coup, he is joined by Roland, a traveler from another world similar to original game’s protagonist, Oliver. The story focuses on Evan’s journey of reclaiming his kingdom and his adventures along the way. Players have the freedom of exploring, and this will take them to beautiful locations and introduce them to several new faces. However, the story isn’t just about Evan. His companion, Roland, has arrived in Evan’s world from his own world and is on a journey to return there. Roland himself is a leader and throughout the journey, he and Evan bond over their shared responsibility. The interesting part is that the two of them represent opposite sides of the struggles of leadership, and their relationship to each other reflects that as well.

But the story is more than that. Evan struggles throughout his journey frequently. And it is only because he has the support of his friends that he is able to succeed and learn to become a king. Initially, he is shy, scared and otherwise panicky. Roland is serious and incredibly wise, providing Evan with many life lessons along the way. But Roland himself also learns to relax, and through his bond with Evan, he grows as a character. There are plenty of heartwarming moments in the game that will leave a lasting impression on players.

The World of Ni no Kuni 2

Level-5 and Studio Ghibli truly did an amazing job of crafting the world of Ni no Kuni 2. Each locale is unique and colorful without being too cutesy. Which is hard to do especially when the overworld in the game is a diorama in some cases, and the characters take on chibi forms when moving throughout it.

However, the story isn’t always rainbows. It doesn’t rely on the same symbolism that the original had and instead grounds itself more realistically… well about as realistically as the world the characters inhabit can. It has a lot more darkness to it than the art-style would convey, but that somehow serves to strengthen these moments.

Ni no Kuni 2: Combat Overhauled

The first Ni no Kuni game used an almost turn-based style and a Pokemon-esque partner system called familiars for its combat sequences. The sequel opts for an action-heavy, real-time combat system that manages to provide a more depth than expected at first glance. Each character within the game can equip three weapons at a time and can switch between them freely in combat. This is where the “zing” style comes into play. Essentially the system powers up weapons over time making them more effective in battle. Once they reach 100%, players can use them to inflict devastating attacks on enemies and turn the tide of battle.

Roland swings into action!

The familiars from the first game have been replaced with creatures called Higgledies. They work to grant buffs, heal party members and even attack enemies. There’s also the addition of the appropriately named “Tweak” System which allows the player to tweak their combat system preferences, be it more exp or gold from victories or the amount of damage that characters receive or inflict. This customization does have its limits, so don’t expect it to overpower the characters.

Ni no Kuni 2’s Kingdom Manager

After clearing up to a certain point, Evan gains the ability to manage the affairs of his kingdom. This, of course, comes with its own benefits such as points to use in the Tweak System and improved weaponry. It functions like a traditional city builder mini-game that is fun if you’re into that sort of thing. It opens up a lot of pathways to improving your characters equipment but also helps with strengthening your own kingdom. While this side mode may seem tacked on, it is well worth it to spend some extra time upgrading your kingdom.

Final Reaction

Through brilliant design, Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom shines. This entry continues the story in a handful of interesting ways with its new characters and story. Ultimately the journey of King Evan Pettiwhiskers Tildrum becomes a beautiful coming of age story about responsibility, growing up and friendship. The story is remarkable and will stick with you days after finishing it. Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is a masterpiece from Level-5 and Studio Ghibli. It is easily the best entry in the series and makes me eager for what is next.

Rating: 4.5/5 Atoms

About author

Joshua Williams
Joshua Williams 37 posts

Anime Liker. Vidya Gamer and in a constant state of confusion.