Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom Review (Switch)

Level-5’s Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom originally released on PS4 in March 2018 to unanimous critical praise, and playing it now in this latest Switch iteration, it’s really not too hard to see why. This is a wonderfully well-crafted adventure that starts to roll, nails almost every gameplay mechanic it features in its 50-hour main campaign, and, we’re happy to report, lands on Nintendo’s hybrid console in truly excellent condition.

Set some 100 years after the events of Wrath of the White Witch, this sequel begins with an explosion in an anonymous city similar to that of the United States that knocks President Roland Crane unconscious, during which time he is magically transported to the colorful kingdom. by Ding Dong Dell. . Struggling to understand what just happened, Roland is immediately drawn into an ongoing coup, taking up arms alongside House of Tildrum’s teenage king (and walking hair disaster) Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum as he tries to escape the claws of the evil Mausinger and his armed thugs.

After a few brief skirmishes teaching you the basics of the game’s excellent real-time combat, during which Evan and Roland also learn the true extent of Mausinger’s treachery and lose a prized companion, Evan announces that he is going to attack and build your own kingdom, a kingdom where everyone can be truly happy and at peace. And with that our adventure begins in earnest.

As far as the narrative is concerned here, it definitely doesn’t rise to the same delightfully Ghibli-like level of weirdness or carry the same raw emotion as its predecessor and, especially at first, we found ourselves having a hard time caring for the rather spoiled Evan. and his troublesome rich kid situation. However, as history begins to find its feet, as our heroes join forces with a motley crew of friends and venture through the many regions that make up the world map here, there is joy in how this boy king begins to learn. , grow and discover yourself through the actions and deeds of the brave people and creatures you meet along the way.

That joy is reinforced in Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom with twelve hours of openings that never take your foot off the gas as they transport you from place to place, applying combat mechanics, introducing large-scale skirmishes, throwing you into puzzle chambers. . and take on a host of excellent boss battles. And the battles here, especially compared to the turn-based affairs found in Wrath of the White Witch, are a real eye-opener. The new real-time action that you will engage in as you take on the many wonderfully named foes found throughout this world is immediately engaging; fast, eye-catching and easy to understand.

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Evan and his growing group of friends have light and heavy attacks, magic-based abilities, and ranged attacks as the basis for their offensive powers. These are then enhanced with a series of neat wrinkles that keep you on your toes as you dance around your enemies. As you hit enemies here, it will fill a Zing meter on each of your weapons as you use them, complete and enhance your attacks, as well as allowing you to perform some special charged maneuvers. For players who just want to punch and not get involved with these things, there are semi and fully automatic modes available that change your weapons for you as your Zing meter fills up, giving players of all abilities the opportunity to simply enjoy smashing. To the bad ones.

Once you’ve grasped the basics, you will be introduced to the game’s amazing Higgledies, collectible item-based sprites that follow you into battles and have their own modifiable abilities and skills including firing big cannons, explosions. enemies with powerful attacks of dark energy, wind, fire and water, as well as providing healing for your party. The Higgledies are a great replacement for Wrath of the White Witch’s Familiars and how the mechanics are worked out here, how you can find and collect new types, play around with how they influence skirmishes, etc., make it a pleasure to participate. with.

But it is a pleasure to interact with almost all the new mechanics in this game, no matter how unpleasant it may initially seem that it is going to be. Going into this one, we knew very well that it introduces a full-blown kingdom-building element a bit more into the story, and around 12 o’clock when it finally made its appearance, we were really worried that it would ruin the excellent flow of the adventure. up to that point.

However, beyond the introduction of a few side quests that see a bit of backtracking and quest-seeking, kingdom building here is just another bright layer of fun added to Evan’s adventure and it’s extremely easy to get stuck too. As you complete secondary and main missions across the world map, you will recruit citizens to live in Evermore, Evan’s new kingdom. Some of these citizens specialize in certain tasks, others simply compose the numbers. These recruits are then used to populate the various buildings that you will place in pre-assigned locations, providing you with a constant stream of personnel to enable research for new technologies and upgrades for your fledgling city.

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Within minutes of learning all of this, you’ll be creating weapon workshops, spells, vendors, cooking workshops, and general stores, all of which can be upgraded and expanded across multiple levels, giving you and your team access to tons of equipment and treats. to help you as you take on the Big Bad of the piece, which is revealed around the same time you finally begin to build your new empire.

There’s so much going on in Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom at this stage, so much creation, combat, exploration, and discovery, that it’s really quite remarkable that it sticks together as well as it does. The rhythm of the main game loops, venturing out to discover amazing new areas, crawling dungeons, fighting big Kingmaker bosses, crafting, upgrading, etc. predecessor. Yes, the story may not measure up when all has been said and done, but in terms of how the combat and adventures have played out, this sequel is a real winner.

And also in terms of presentation. Studio Ghibli may not be directly involved this time, but Yoshiyuke Momose returns, as does composer Joe Hisaishi, to ensure it looks and sounds as sumptuous as the original Ni No Kuni. On the Switch, the graphical dials have certainly been reduced a bit – it’s not as crisp and clear as on more powerful hardware – but the exquisite art style here ensures that this doesn’t really matter. This is a tremendous-looking adventure, both on base and on handheld, and more importantly, we didn’t find a single noticeable frame rate wobble, no matter how screen-shaking the boss we were hitting. , throughout our game. This new Prince’s Edition is also coming to Switch with all previously released DLC included, as well as some additional dungeons and some additional sets. This is, in short, a fantastic and comprehensive version of a wonderful looking action RPG.

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Have some negative things to say here? Well yeah, there are some things if we are picky. Side missions can be a bit repetitive and, as we mentioned, they introduce a bit of a throwback that we’re not particularly fans of. Voice acting too, though what’s included it is excellent, it just doesn’t factor as much as it should. There are some fantastic characters that you should meet on your adventure, especially the likes of Lofty, the tiny little Welsh Kingmaker, and a host of sky pirates, mermen, and others who should provide a lot more humor than they do on the road. . but they are paralyzed by a real lack of recorded dialogue. It’s a shame, and something that takes away from a story that was already struggling a bit compared to its predecessor.

There is also a slight problem with the difficulty setting. The normal difficulty can be a bit too easy for some players, although we have to admit that we still really enjoy combat this way, and you will rarely find that you need to dive into your tactics modifier etc. get to the top. The hardest difficulties, which were added in a patch to the original release, are also present and correct, though they can be a bit of a mixed bag, with the hardest setting spawning some annoying one-shot kills ignoring armor stats and They mess with the rhythm of things a bit.

These issues aside, though, what’s here is still one of the best action JRPGs we’ve played in a long, long time. Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom really is that good. Combat, exploration, kingdom building, art style, soundtrack, characters, and script combine here to create a truly wonderful adventure that you should fully immerse yourself in with this excellent Switch port.