Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom Review: Stands Evermore as an underrated RPG

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom Review: Stands Evermore as an underrated RPG

Embark on a journey through a fantastical realm where whimsical creatures, tactical skirmishes, and a kingdom-building adventure await. Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, a sequel that boldly deviates from its predecessor, emerges as an underrated gem in the realm of RPGs. In this review, we delve into the intricate layers of its gameplay, exploring the captivating battle system that seamlessly blends action and strategy. With a meticulous customization system that invites players to craft their characters and armies to perfection, the game unveils a playground of possibilities. However, as we navigate the narrative landscape, we uncover a tale that, while lacking in the grandiosity of its forerunner, shines in the brilliance of its individual vignettes. The music, a symphony composed by the legendary Joe Hisashi, weaves a melodic tapestry that complements the game's visual splendor, even as it departs from the Studio Ghibli cutscenes of its predecessor. Join us as we journey through the enchanting locations, encounter a diverse cast of characters, and partake in sidequests that add depth to the overall experience in today's review... Ni No Kuni II: Stands Evermore as an underrated RPG.

Battle System - 9.5

Taking a much more stereotypical, action-oriented RPG combat approach over its predecessor, Ni No Kuni: II still manages to set itself apart with a unique take on the action RPG genre. Instead of taking a hybrid approach in which you select actions, you execute light attacks, heavy attacks, dash attacks, spinning slices, ranged attacks, ranged dash attacks, charged ranged attacks, and aerial attacks (both melee and ranged). On top of those, there are lots of unique skills and spells to use, three difficulty settings, and six playable characters, and each character is able to equip four unique weapons at a time. This game also has phenomenal menu customization, but I will cover that in the next section. In addition to the normal combat system, there are real-time tactical skirmishes in which you send forward troops to kill large groups of enemies! This combat is super fun, as you can recruit different commanders with different skills, take down enemies by utilizing their weaknesses, and take out or build command posts, archer towers, or cannons! All in all, with fluid combat that rarely gets old and a unique RTS skirmish system, this combat lives up to the original in terms of fun and uniqueness, yet it couldn't feel more different to play... and that's why I love this combat so much!

Customization System - 10

This game has so many different ways to customize your characters and team that I often spent over an hour customizing my characters—and I loved every single minute of it. The first great system is, well, the in-depth equipment system! With tons of unique equipment dropped from enemies and lots of craftable weapons, armor, and accessories, it's always tons of fun to equip your party members. Each character can equip three melee weapons (Tani and Leander equip spears for super quick attacks, Evan and Roland have swords for consistently strong damage, and Batu and Bracken for impressive heavy attacks), one ranged weapon (Evan and Leander equip wands for homing capabilities and magic affinity, Roland and Bracken have guns for speed and accuracy, and Tani and Batu have bows for damage and versatility), armor for defense and magic defense, boots for various defensive capabilities, rings for damage buffs, and necklaces for various fun effects. Almost every piece of equipment hosts one to four innate abilities, allowing for unique and powerful setups. The second system is the skill system, where characters learn skills and spells by leveling up or participating in research. Skills can dish out tons of damage at close ranges and large areas, as well as imbue various positive and negative effects. In contrast, spells dish out strong ranged damage that can effectively exploit enemy weaknesses. While skills are much better early in the game, once you do a good amount of research into spells, they can be incredibly effective (especially when used at full Zing, a statistic gauge that is stored in weapons that increases skill effectiveness when at 100%). Now, you may be wondering what I'm rambling on about with spell research. Well, as eponymous with the name, you get to build a kingdom in this game where you can do tons of research to craft equipment, upgrade spells, unlock new items at the general store, train troops for skirmishes, gather a variety of materials, cook food, and much more! Yes, you can upgrade your armies in tons of ways, cook and eat food for temporary stat boosts, and consume candy for permanent stat boosts.

If you thought any of that sounded fun, think again. I still haven't mentioned three fantastic systems that really set this game apart from its contemporaries: the Tactic Tweaker, Higgeldies, and Martial Methods. The Tactic Tweaker gains points as your characters level up, allowing you to tweak your party's statistics in a plethora of ways. You can select certain enemy types to do more damage to, different upgrades to various combat skills, elements, and ailments to be resistant to, and augment the rewards you get after the battle. Being intelligent with your Tactic Tweaker can completely shift the tide of battle, and it is really simple (yet fun) to get the hang of. There are also Higgeldies, which replace the Familiars of the original. With over 100 to collect, these little element spirits can support the party in various ways! They each have one innate skill, one action skill, one ultimate skill that the player can trigger, and one skill that activates once a character is awakened via a golden ball. They are tons of fun to experiment with, and due to their different personalities, they all act differently in battle! They can also be absorbed to increase skill or spell damage, as well as cause a Higgeldy blast, which has a high chance of stunning an enemy! These little guys aren't always as in-depth as Familiars, but they synergize perfectly with the battle system! Last of all is the Martial Methods system, which is an interesting post-game development that completely changes the way battles are played. There's Ding Dong Discipline, which allows you to evade faster and more often, as well as freeze time for combo attacks and breaking enemy shields. There's the Wizard's Companion method, which allows you to slow down time to increase the damage and potency of spell-casting. There's Martha's Methods, which allow more consistent spawning of Higgeldy follows and for said followers to be absorbed into Higgeldy Bombs that dish out huge, ranged, area-of-effect damage! And lastly, there's Gizmo Supremo, an interesting style that provides hi-tech gadgets to the player that can change the tide of battle. As a whole, I couldn't get enough of this amazing customization system.

Story - 7

In terms of the overarching narrative, this sequel was a massive step back from its predecessor. With much less attention to lore, emotional stakes, and colorful worldbuilding, the story here felt like an afterthought, with the main story really only being a focus at the beginning and end of the game. Nevertheless, this score isn't all that low for one crucial reason—the vignettes are fantastic. Each time you enter a new, vibrant city, you learn of its conflicts and humanity, delving into the psyche of those who rule the land. Very few RPG moments can compare to the joy of Evan teaming up with another kingdom and signing the ingeniously named Declaration of Independence. Also, on top of learning the stories of many kingdoms, you also get some fun personal backstories for both playable and non-playable characters through sidequests. However, as great as many individual moments in this game are, I can't overlook the weak overarching narrative and the slightly embarrassing lack of emotional gravitas and commitment to some of the more interesting and bazaar moments that the game teases but forgets to pay off.

Music - 9

Joe Hisashi had the monumental task of following up his previous soundtrack in the series, and while it wasn't quite as good, it was still an outstanding soundtrack. I specifically adored each of the new town themes: the incredible remasters of songs from the original and a battle theme that far surpassed the originals. The music in this game helped convey that this game was still very much Ni No Kuni but that it was a vastly different game with the same font. I'm incredibly excited to hear more of Hishashi's works in the future (hopefully in a Ni No Kuni III), and in the meantime, I'll be listening to the gorgeous Hydropolis theme as I continue to review more games on this site.

Characters - 8

This game's character cast is an interesting one to describe. On the one hand, all the characters are much less developed than in the predecessor, with the villains especially being a step-down. On the other hand, while I can't realistically give this category a higher score than its predecessor, objectively speaking, I enjoyed my time much more with Evan, Roland, Tani, Batu, Leander, and Bracken over Oliver, Esther, Swaine, and Marcassin. This game did a fantastic job of making me fall in love with its characters, even if they were rather thin at times; therefore, this category deserves an 8.

Locations - 8

This game has amazing towns that live up to its predecessor, especially Evermore, the kingdom you build yourself! However, this game has far too many copy-and-pasted caves, forests, and randomly generated dungeons for its own good. However, most of these generic areas are the catalysts for sidequests and are entirely optional to explore, so it didn't bother me too much, especially if the ending reward was a new recruit for my kingdom. Moving back to the positives, I love how each city has such distinct architecture, government, citizens, and story content, and Evermore, Goldpaw, and Broadleaf have quickly become some of my favorite RPG towns of all time. Ultimately, while this game struggles in its optional locations, every main story location is impeccably crafted, so I can't complain much.

Sidequests - 9

While some of the sidequests in this game are overly tedious, as a whole, with so many citizens to recruit, dungeons to explore, loot to get, and bosses to challenge, this game has very good sidequests. I specifically loved hunting tainted monsters, completing Objectives in the post-game Labyrinth, participating in difficult skirmishes, and, best of all, unlocking new Martial Methods. I had tons of fun with the sidequests present here!

Art & Graphics - 9.5

While the Studio Ghibli cutscenes are gone and the UI feels like a step back from the original, this game is still stunning. The characters, animations, and environments are beautiful! I loved the seamless mix of proportional characters and chibi-style characters—while controversial, it was a cute touch for skirmishes and Evermore, and it allowed for the world map to feel grand in scope compared to the characters, whereas the dungeons just felt all the more personal because of it. Ultimately, this game looks incredible, and I've got no major complaints with the art to speak of!

Quality of Life - 6

The fast travel in this game was incredible, the difficulty settings were great, and I only encountered one bug during my playthrough (and it was solely cosmetic). The biggest problems came with tediousness and the primitive disclusion of saving in colossally long, optional dungeons, causing a needlessly monumental loss of progress. In the end, this game was annoying in many instances, but yet again, it was mostly optional.

The Verdict

Fun Factor: 9
Overall Score: 85%
Letter Rating: S

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom maintains so much of what I loved about the original while taking it in completely new directions. While I still find the original to be a superior experience. I really hope a true Ni No Kuni III comes in the near future—even with just two games, the Ni No Kuni series stands as one of my favorites of all time, and I'll never forget my time uniting the kingdoms of the world under one batter in this beautiful RPG masterpiece.

Wanna check out this underrated sequel to one of the greatest RPGs of all time? Check it out at one of the links below! I highly recommend the Prince's Edition for Switch and Play Station or the Collector's Edition for Play Station, as they both come with tons of bonus content! Regardless, the original is perfectly fine if you aren't much of a completionist and just want to enjoy the story.

Ni No Kuni II: Prince's Edition (Nintendo Switch)
Ni No Kuni II: Standard Edition (Play Station 4)
Ni No Kuni II: Day One Edition (Play Station 4)
Ni No Kuni II: Prince's Edition (Play Station 4)
Ni No Kuni II: Collector's Edition (Play Station 4)

Primary Version: Ni No Kuni II: Prince's Edition (Nintendo Switch)