Level-5 has chosen for Ni no Kuni II to develop completely differently and to ignore its predecessor for a large part. The game tells a totally new story and that makes it immediately accessible to everyone, even if you did not play the first part ! This time you follow the story of a young king, Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum, who is banished from his kingdom. However, he does not sit down, he decides to build a very new kingdom. He also wants to banish war altogether from the world and to do that he wants, all regions in the country to come under a single banner, so that they all work together instead of making each other’s misery. This is only easier said than done.
Story might be completely fresh and renewed, but the genre has remained the same. Ni no Kuni II is also a JRPG, only the focus in the fighting system is now more on action. The first part was turn-based, but now real-time battles are used. You have complete control of your character at all times and you can attack whenever you want. You have a weak and strong attack at your disposal and you can block and evade. You also have the choice of four different special attacks. You can also switch between your team members whenever you want and that goes very smoothly. The fighting system itself works fine and the control reacts quickly with the action being very fluid.
There are also some small nuances added to this fighting system, giving it a more strategic charge. So you have access to one weapon for long distance and three melee weapons. Each melee weapon has an energy meter and if it is full, your special attacks become more powerful, so it is wise to have at least one sword or club on hand that is at full strength, which you can use when faced with more difficult opponents. There are also enemies of a certain class and they have their strengths and weaknesses that you can exploit. There are also Higgledies that help you. These little creatures have magical powers that they can use to inflict additional damage on your enemies or to provide you with buffs.
Hack ‘n slash
It is of course very clear that the fighting system works well and there are many small nuances that make this even more fun. You have nothing at all if the battles do not ask for this or do nothing with it. For example, the fights dont last longer than 4 seconds on average for the first five hours of the game, because a few punches cause victory. It is often the case that with one special attack you can mow down the entire field, even if your enemies are higher in level than you. And that quickly gets boring. After that it will be a bit complicated, but you can still manage with only standard attacks. Only after 10 or 11 am you occasionally end up in situations where you also have to make use of evading attacks from your enemy (s), but then strategy is not necessary.
You do not have to worry about your opponent’s class and / or which weapon or special attack you use. Choose the strongest weapon and you’re good. You also do not need the Higgledies nine times out of ten at all. Hack and slash element of fighting is still fun on it’s own way, only it would have been better if the strategic layer had worked and it is not nearly as fun as what the original provided. If you are halfway through the game, fighting will be a bit more difficult, but you will not get into bigger problems anywhere.
The boss fights are very nice to do, because they provide some challenge, but the fact remains that the fighting system is now simply reduced to a very simple matter, because there is no question of strategy anymore. In fact, you can even play the game through ‘button bashing’. And that is of course not something you expect from a JRPG. Fans of the first part will also be very surprised by the difference because this is the opposite of what the first part brought us. There comes a time when everything works as it should and then on the other side the fights are very simplistic. Its unfortunate that this works properly only at the very last end of the story.
The developer also added new gameplay mechanisms to Ni no Kuni II, named: city building and real-time strategy elements. The building of your kingdom you fill yourself in and there are so-called ‘skirmishes’ in which Evan gets four troops under his wing. These are usually complex genres, but Level-5 has kept everything nice and light, so in principle they are accessible to everyone. Building your kingdom is even fun, only the RTS sections are less. In this you are surrounded by four armies and you have to make sure that the one you have for you is the strongest against the incoming troops of the enemy. For example, troops with swords are strong against troops with hammers and troops with hammers strongly against wizards. So you have to constantly switch, so that the strong troops stand in front of Evan, so you can beat your enemy quickly and your army will not go down. You are frequently attacked by multiple troops, so you completely lose the overview. Proper anticipation is therefore almost impossible.
After you get introduced by this aspects in the beginning, it seems that maintaining your kingdom and not-so complex skirmishes are entirely optional. Especially for the latter part that seems ideal, since you can skip it, unfortunately. However, I must warn you to continue to do so. Very late in the game you have to meet certain conditions for these parts. If you do not comply with this, you simply can not continue with the story. It can take hours before you meet the conditions. It is a pity that the developer has not hinted anymore that it is important that these parts need to be done.
For the rest, Ni no Kuni II will prepare you for what you can expect from a JRPG. There is a big world in which there is a lot to see and do, you level up your characters, you find lots of loot so that you get new items and weapons and you do missions that are separate from the main story. All boxes are checked off from what is needed for a game in this genre and in general it is nice to well worked out, but there is also something to say about it at almost every point. They are often simple fetch quests and the main story is kept very flat for too long. So there is plenty to find and do in the game to keep you busy for dozens of hours, but it is not all that special. This in combination with the fighting system that is not fully utilized, ensures that Ni no Kuni II as a whole certainly does not reach the level of part one.
What Ni no Kuni II does on perfect level are the graphics. The style is similar to the first part, only the power of the PlayStation 4 is used to show even sharper images. And even though this style is no longer to be called original, it still produces beautiful images. However, the various characters do not have the same charm that the characters in the previous tittle did. That does not mean that the various figures in the second part are bad, but in the previous game you felt something more with the characters. On the other hand, the bosses in Ni no Kuni II are really cool and can measure themselves with those of first game. Unfortunately, the framerate is not equally stable everywhere. Especially in cities, the image can start to stutter and that is not such a beautiful sight. In terms of musical decoration it is great, only sometimes the tunes do not match what is going on on the screen. So here, too, there is always something to complain about.
Ni no Kuni II has received more attention before its release than its predecessor, only the game does not reach same high quality. This is largely due to the fighting system. We have now opted for a more action-packed approach, but it still has many small nuances for a strategic charge. It is only a pity that little or nothing of this strategy remains. The result is that the first cuople hours are very sleep-inducing and simply not fun, because you can win very easily. After that it gets better, but this part remains primarily a hack ‘s slasher and that stands in stark contrast to the first part and that is not what you expect from a JRPG. For the rest Ni no Kuni II will serve you what you expect from a game in this genre, even though it does not excel in anything and there is something to be noticed everywhere. Building your kingdom is very nice, but the new skirmishes come out less well. Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom has become a nice game, but no more than that.