Princely

Ni no Kuni II : Revenant King­dom is an am­bi­tious JRPG that keeps on giv­ing.

PC GAMER (UK) - - REVIEW - By Austin Wood

Ni no Kuni II: Revenant King­dom has done a fab­u­lous job of hid­ing its best fea­ture. It’s an open world action JRPG, but at its heart is a build­ing sim star­ring a doll­house-like king­dom. You raise build­ings, gen­er­ate re­sources, and re­search tac­tics and sci­ences. Man­ag­ing your realm is not just a thing to do be­tween quests. It’s what con­nects Ni no Kuni II’s many sys­tems and keeps them run­ning. And it’s what keeps me com­ing back.

Evan Pet­ti­whisker Til­drum, the half-cat­folk prince of Ding Dong Dell, loses his crown to a coup staged by the rat­folk fac­tion. Dur­ing his es­cape, Evan meets Roland, a mys­te­ri­ous leader sent from an­other world. With Roland’s help, Evan re­solves to build a new king­dom, Ever­more, and unite the four other king­doms un­der a sin­gle ban­ner.

You visit each king­dom to con­vince them to sign Evan’s Dec­la­ra­tion of In­ter­de­pen­dence and to pro­tect them from Doloran, a sor­cerer who’s us­ing magic and ma­nip­u­la­tion to force rulers to op­press their cit­i­zens. Each king­dom is fac­ing se­ri­ous is­sues – bru­tal taxes, un­ten­able work hours, ab­surd be­hav­iour laws. For a game filled with an­i­mal­folk, Ni no Kuni II tells a very hu­man tale.

Each king­dom con­trib­utes a well-rounded short story, a thrilling and unique King­maker boss fight, and a valu­able les­son for Evan. Which is to say noth­ing of the sheer joy of

ex­plor­ing them. The me­an­der­ing streets of one king­dom are lined with de­tailed casi­nos based on Chi­nese tem­ples, food stalls packed with adorable dog­folk cit­i­zens, and rose lanterns which drench ev­ery­thing in crim­son light. An­other rev­els in the fu­tur­is­tic; all tow­er­ing brass mono­liths and rigid, starkly lit ge­om­e­try.

The best part of al­ly­ing with a new king­dom is the flood of new cit­i­zens into Ever­more. Dif­fer­ent cit­i­zens spe­cial­ize in dif­fer­ent fields, from farm­ing to black­smithing to magic. You can only craft cer­tain items and re­search cer­tain bonuses after you re­cruit spe­cific cit­i­zens. The more of the world you’ve seen, the stronger Ever­more be­comes.

Build to or­der

The cy­cle of dis­cov­er­ing, work­ing to­ward and fi­nally un­lock­ing things in Ever­more de­liv­ers a grat­i­fy­ing sense of own­er­ship. I can up­grade my ar­mour be­cause I re­cruited bet­ter black­smiths. I’m stocked up on con­sum­ables be­cause I up­graded the general store. I want to build bet­ter min­ing nodes so I can make a stronger sword. It never ends, and I never wanted it to.

Com­bat im­prove­ments are espe­cially re­ward­ing be­cause the real-time battle sys­tem is so much fun. You use light and heavy at­tacks to build com­bos, punc­tu­ate them with flashy area-of-ef­fect at­tacks and fin­ishes, and dodge and block en­emy strikes in be­tween. You build a party of three char­ac­ters and swap be­tween them when­ever you want to make use of their unique skills.

Com­bat is fur­ther en­livened by the Tac­tic Tweaker, a col­lec­tion of set­tings that lets you deal more dam­age to cer­tain en­emy types, take less dam­age from cer­tain at­tacks, and even change gran­u­lar stuff like your dodge roll’s in­vin­ci­bil­ity frames. To up­grade the Tac­tic Tweaker’s op­tions and po­tency, you just need to level up. Killing stuff to get bet­ter at killing stuff is nearly as en­gross­ing as up­grad­ing Ever­more.

I’m also im­pressed by the stream­lin­ing and im­prove­ments. In­stead of hav­ing to te­diously pick up items, you au­to­mat­i­cally hoover up loot. In­stead of load­ing into a pocket di­men­sion after bump­ing into an en­emy, you just ap­proach and fight nor­mally, im­prov­ing the pac­ing and mak­ing ex­plo­ration more tense. These are things I wish ev­ery JRPG did.

Ni no Kuni II is gor­geous, charm­ing and con­stantly evolving. Its com­bat is lay­ered and ex­cit­ing, with sys­tems that let you finely tai­lor your play style. Its com­ing-of-age story is sac­cha­rine but well told, with an end­ing that still oc­cu­pies my thoughts. The crown­ing achieve­ment, though, is that Level-5 tie it all into an in­volved and sat­is­fy­ing king­dom build­ing sim that en­hances ev­ery other part of the game.

Ni no Kuni II is gor­geous, charm­ing and con­stantly evolving

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