One of my most anticipated sequels in recent memory is Ni No Kuni 2. I absolutely adored the first game from the gorgeous art style, to the Pokemon-esque familiars, to the quirky and hilarious scottish-voiced Mr Drippy. So when I had the opportunity to preview Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant King at EB Expo, I was stoked!
I was lucky enough to experience two scenarios during the demo, thanks to a very friendly and lenient staff member letting me have extra time. The first I played through was the boss encounter with Longfang: a fire breathing, lava dwelling Chinese dragon. Thrown right into the deep end having not played the game before, this was a huge challenge. Learning the game mechanics on-the-fly was tough, but also felt intuitive and natural, which is a credit to the game’s design. Combat in Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is reminiscent of modern action RPGs such as Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy XV, where you are fighting in real time using hack-and-slash techniques, magic abilities, and special moves for big damage.
The small creatures you see in the image are the Higgledies, which are Pikmin-like elemental beings that can be utilised in different ways on the battlefield. A group of fire Higgledies in this particular encounter gave Evan (the player character) a defensive buff against fire attacks, where the green (earth?) Higgledies healed my party. In big boss fights like this, it will be imperative to use the Higgledies as much as possible. These creatures seem to have replaced the familiars from the original Ni No Kuni, but play a real-time strategic role in combat in Ni No Kuni 2.
The second chapter I played through was a journey into the Wyvern’s Den, a more story-focused adventure that included a few NPC interactions and a trip through the open world. Taking on a chibi-like appearance, Evan traverses the large open areas in a very similar fashion to World of Final Fantasy, another JRPG with a chibi art style, and can find treasures and enemies to fight. Approaching an enemy takes you to a battle arena, where you duke it out with monsters and gain EXP and rewards after.
This chapter led Evan and co. into the Wyvern’s Den to rescue a captured friend, and there we encountered the Wyvern Warlord and his band of bloodthirsty Wyverns. The boss fight was much simpler compared to Longfang, and provided another opportunity to utilise the Higgledies, this time with a dark elemental blast attack that dealt massive damage. Once the battle was over, a short cut-scene followed where I was reunited with the kidnapped girl and the demo was completed.
Overall, the Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom demo was enjoyable but repetitive. Being a self-professed veteran of JRPGs, many of the mechanics and gameplay elements felt stale and recycled. The original Ni No Kuni impressed us all with its charm and creative magic and familiar systems, but none of that seems to have carried in to Ni No Kuni 2. Hopefully Bandai Namco are hiding some of the deeper, more engaging systems in the full game, but as it stands now one of my most anticipated games of 2018 has slipped a little.