Ni No Kuni 2 is the sequel to the PlayStation 3 JRPG that received critical acclaim back in 2011. Published and developed by Level 5 and Bandai Namco Entertainment, the game begins with a man named Roland witnessing a missile exploding over a city. In the aftermath, he vanishes and reappears in front of Evan, a young boy who is in line to be king in the fantasy land of Ding Dong Dell. At the time of Roland’s arrival, Mausinger, the advisor to Evan’s late father, stages a coup. Roland and Evan make their escape and Mausinger assumes control of the kingdom. Evan states that he will do everything in his power to “create a kingdom where everyone can live happily ever after”, and so Evan and Roland set out to make allies and build a new kingdom that they can call home.
Yoshiyuki Momose, who did the key animation on the Studio Ghibli movies Porco Rosso and Spirited Away, also returns, doing Ni No Kuni II’s character design. This combined with the cel-shaded look of the game leads to an incredible art style and anime aesthetic not regularly seen in recent games. Everything from the lush scenery to the detailed enemy encounters fits perfectly with each other and brings the magical world to life.
Exploration and building your kingdom play a big role, whereby Evan can upgrade areas of the kingdom and recruit new party members via sidequests. Although this aspect of the game wasn’t particularly entertaining for me, it fit in well enough and never distracted from the main story’s progression or enjoyment.
Although Evan is a just and peaceful natured character, looking to rather make peace with his enemies than go to war, combat takes up the biggest portion of game time. The battle system focuses of melee attacks with the ability to use ranged weapons and abilities. Dozens of small elemental creatures called Higgledies can also be discovered while on your journey, and once obtained they can assist you in battle, some are offensive and can transform into a weapon that attacks your enemies, while others can play defensive roles such as healing the party.
Throughout the game skirmishes can be done to defeat enemy encampments, which plays out more like a mini-game than part of the main story. When implemented, the voice acting is superb, with the actors portraying real emotion through each character. The only downside to this is when some scenes just have text and mumbles, breaking the fluidity of conversations. All in all, Ni No Kuni II was a breath of fresh air, and I recommend it to people who enjoy modern JRPG’s with a great story and realtime combat, rather than the turn based style that dominated the genre in the past.
A WONDERFUL ‘TAIL’ OF ADVENTURE
Ni no Kuni II is one of the most enchanting and enjoyable JRPGs to come out in ages