I’ll openly admit, that despite hearing so much about Ni No Kun: Wrath of the White Witch, it’s a game that I’ve never played or for that matter, I don’t even play JRPG’s.  However, at least once or twice a year, I like to try a game a little different from my usual habits in the hope that I’ll find a gem that I never saw coming.  So despite having little knowledge of the first game, even though it took a good few hours to begin to win me over, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom that is indeed a game that has unexpectedly won me over and I couldn’t be happier with its naive charm.

Set hundreds of years after the original game, you begin this tale playing as Roland, a seemingly successful president of our Earth realm.  However, when he is attacked, somehow he finds himself teleported to another world with some similarities to ours, but yet a place very different and unique, filled by mystical characters and other worldly powers.  Waking in the town of Ding Dong Dell, Roland is thrown into a civil war in which a mouse tribe is taking control of the kingdom by throwing the cat tribe from its thrown (putting a literal use to the term “fighting like cat and mouse”).  It is here that Roland is introduced to the would be boy King, Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum,  Evan must quickly bare trust in Roland if he is to escape the city under siege in the hope of one day, reclaiming his home and kingdom.

If like me, you’re new to this beloved series, then fear not, because as a n00b I, then having practically no knowledge of the first game haven’t impacted my fun or experience of this sequel, at least in a negative way.  Sure, maybe I might enjoy it even more had I played Wrath of the White Witch, but I feel its well worth mentioning that at least in my experience, you don’t have to play the original game.  That said, enjoying Revenant Kingdom as much as I have, it’s only urged me to get playing Wrath of the White Witch as soon as I can find the time to do so.  Though you will have to potentially look past a certain naive charm that this game has, but if you can embrace the certain joy that this game can bring, it will likely embrace you in return.

In terms of gameplay, Revenant Kingdom brings a lot to the table.  With its core combat, the action is in real-time with you having two other party members by your side.  As you progress in the game, your party will grow, each character bringing their own set of skills, offering a certain degree of strategy as you plan for the best approach during some of the key boss battles.  Speaking of which, while Revenant Kingdom isn’t particularly a difficult game, it’s got some quite inventive enemy types and very enjoyable boss battles.  The combat also isn’t particularly difficult, as I often found myself button bashing with the odd use of my power ability until the enemy is downed.  You’ll also find that your party member AI is also very capable as you’d often leave them to battle it out along your side.  This I suppose ads to the relaxing difficulty and I certainly won’t knock a developer for achieving good AI that doesn’t frustrate you, but in my opinion, the relaxing nature of the combat only adds to the charm that Revenant Kingdom has to offer.

However, other than the overall enjoyment of Revenant Kingdom taking me by surprise, several other gameplay mechanics pleasantly took me by surprise too.  For example, there is a mini-game called Skirmish, which see’s you battling it out with mini armies from a top-down (ish) viewpoint.  This mode offers a certain strategic approach, which in itself is a fun little mini-game that helps break up the play from the norm.  As you progress throughout the campaign, you’ll also begin to build your very own kingdom.  Here your kingdom will grow as the population increases and you level-up many of its establishments.  Aside from the main campaign, they’ll also be many side-quests to participate in.  These side-quests have added value as many of them will result in your gaining an additional resident for your young kingdom and it is then your job to assign each citizen to a certain job role, with the citizens also having the ability to level-up.

Visually, Ni no Kun II is an absolute joy to behold with its beautiful cel-shaded presentation.  Albeit this series is totally new to me, but this game has never failed to impress me to how stunning everything looks, from its animation, inviting world and intriguing, varied cast of characters.  In-fact, the whole presentation package that Ni no Kun II brings to the table, it not only had me wanting to play the original, but to also explore other JRPG’s, in particular the Persona series, which I’ve heard so much about.

However, I would say that despite how good this game plays and looks, it’s not without some flaws.  For example, some of the text that displays during character conversation in-game is smaller then it perhaps should be and some of the in-game music is on loop, to the point that it will be annoyingly stuck in your head long after you’ve put down the controller.  Also, for a game that has such a huge scale as this one, perhaps more could be done with character development, because considering many of the party characters will be with you from very early on, I would have liked a little more back-story to help me feel a little invested in them.

In conclusion, while I did go into this game as open minded as I could be, I did have my doubts early on, but that was only down to a combination of teething issues such as the obligatory tutorial segments and the added factor that I’m a total JRPG n00b.  But once I got passed the first few hours or so, I started to recognise why this series is held in such high regard and loved by so many.  Sure at this stage I’m unable to compare it to the original (I plan on changing that), but especially coming from someone with fresh eyes, Ni no Kun II has taken me by surprise with its charm, whit and varied gameplay.  Ni no Kun II: Revenant Kingdom will no doubt go down as one of my unexpected charms of the year and I’m so glad that I took a leap of faith, not only with this game, but also as my introduction into the JRPG genre.  I’d even go out on a limb as to say that I’d struggle to find a game this year as charming with a world as immersive as Ni no Kun II: Revenant Kingdom.



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake