Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release Date: March 23, 2018
ESRB: Teen / PEGI 12
Available Platforms: PS4, PC
Genre: Role-Playing Game
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is a cute game for all ages. It’s well suited for younger audiences. Hardcore gamers may find this title a bit too easy, the fights are simple enough that any young child can beat the game without problems (after all, that’s the game’s target demographic).
The young King Evan, leader of cat-people, gets overthrown in a coup. His castle gets raided by the rat-people. Already, you can tell the story is set up for children.
Evan escapes with the help of Roland, who gets teleported to the castle from another planet for inexplicable reasons. He himself was a president in his world. Together they set out to build a new and better kingdom where everyone can live happily ever after. To do this, they must unite the entire realm by making all rulers sign a treaty.
The player must gradually build out his kingdom. This is done by recruiting new people via side quests, then putting them to work in mines, lumberyards, farms and shops. Your kingdom will generate you money and you can build more shops and even upgrade the castle’s area when you have more citizens. It’s an addictive sort of minigame that guides you throughout the story.
The gameplay consists of 4 core things:
- Take on Quests to grow your Kingdom
- Fight Monsters / Bosses
- Build out the Kingdom
- Battle other armies in skirmishes
These 4 activities make up 90% of the game.
The Quests: There are 9 Story Chapters and 175 Side Quests. There are quest markers for everything so it’s very easy to follow. The side quests are all short 1-step fetch-quests with markers. Just go from Point A to B and return to the quest giver.
The Fighting: You have quick attacks, strong attacks, can block and dodge, and use magic spells. Don’t expect fancy combos or ultra-deep RPG mechanics. There’s literally no learning curve here. The combat is still the exact same 80 hours into the game as it is in the first hour.
The Kingdom Building: This is a really nice touch that ties in well with the story. The places at which you can build new facilities are predetermined (even the type of facility to be built there). It doesn’t require any city planning. This could have been improved a great deal by allowing for more freedom of planning, but again, I suppose it’s to keep things easy for the kids. Your kingdom uses its own currency “kingsguilders”. How much you earn per minute is solely based on your kingdom’s influence. When you have amassed enough kingsguilders you can build new facilities or upgrade existing ones and research new abilities to make the game easier.
Skirmishes: These are army battles. You can select up to 4 types of infantry. Then you must defeat an enemy army. While these are rare during the story, there are over 50 unique skirmishes and they are often part of side quests. This mini-game is horribly boring and grindy, and requires no skill or planning whatsoever. I had no trouble beating level 50 skirmishes with level 25 troops. I even stuck to the most basic starting troops. All you do is rush into the enemies and hold to kill them. That’s it. There are certain strengths and weaknesses to each unit, but I found them to be completely irrelevant. Once you have researched upgrades in your kingdom this mode turns into a bad joke. There should have been some type of strategic planning (e.g. commanding your troops from birds-eye view), this mode had a lot more potential.
The story took me around 30 hours to beat. Completing all side quests took another 30 hours. Finishing up everything else for 100% game completion took a grand total of 80 hours playtime. It’s a good deal of gameplay for $60.
The story is really cute. If you have a kid who wants this game, go get it. The story attempts to teach kids how to be a good leader, a decent human being (or cat-person haha), and how to solve political differences by peaceful diplomatic means opposed to brute force. For kids this is perfect in every way. While cats fighting rats was not my cup of tea, it’s clearly a game with high production value. I have to applaud the publishers for not rushing this and for not forcing micro-transactions into it. I never encountered any bugs on my way to 100% completion (I’m still missing 1 hidden higgledy stone collectible at this time of writing, but close enough).
You can feel that the game is well programmed. The loading times are super short. Just 2 seconds. This is important because you’ll use fast travel a lot. The game map is enormous. You can go into lots of caves and woods. However, it must be noted that they all feel like randomly generated mazes. Half the caves have the exact same layout. The other half are just reorganized versions of the same scheme. Same can be said for the woods. You always feel like “haven’t I been here before?”. While the indoors level design is very bad, the outdoors is much better. It’s a contrast like night and day. Outdoors the world is huge and every region looks completely unique and different. There are deserts, frozen planes, woods, beaches and canyons. You can even travel by boat or fly a Zeppelin (for some reason the game spells it “Zippelin”).
I had a good time with the side quests and story. This made up the first 60 hours of my journey to 100% and was enjoyable. After that it got very grindy and boring so if you plan for the platinum trophy / 100% completion be prepared for a lot of grinding in the endgame. The platinum trophy isn’t a lot of fun. Doing 50 different skirmishes (which show up randomly) is mind-numbing. There’s also an inexplicably huge level difference between the 9th Dreamer Maze and the 10th. After having done everything, except the 10th Maze, I was level 70, That’s 99% game completion.
The boss in the last maze is level 95 and will one-hit you at level 70. So I had to grind the last story boss for 6 hours just to get to a feasible level. If you die you also have to replay all 30 stages leading up to the boss which is okay if you’re a high-enough level, but just pointless at level 70. The normal monsters don’t go above level 70 so your ways of grinding XP are very limited. You’re basically forced to grind the last story boss for hours if you want to stand a chance in the 10th maze. This is just bad game design. The game goes from super duper easy to impossible with no decent way to rank up. The last maze should be scaled down to level 75 to fit in with the progression system.
The biggest problem of all is that only few sections of the dialogues are narrated. 95% are just subtitles you have to click through (with nobody talking). This is a problem in a game so heavy on dialogues. The story and side quests consist of mostly dialogues and it got to the point where I started skipping side quest dialogues because all the reading became so boring and time-consuming, and quite frankly pointless, as these dialogues don’t provide much useful info (for side quests). Sometimes you hear Evan just say one word. I can’t count the number of times I have heard him say “Hey” or “Excuse Me”. That’s all he’ll say during some dialogues. Really, in an RPG that’s all about dialogue, in this day and age you must have it narrated. Pokemon can get away with it, but a game that makes you read for 30 hours+ should maybe have been a book series instead.
*Overall Enjoyment Factor, Fascination with Game World, Level Design, Variety, Playability, User-Friendliness (Ease of Use / Readability / Controls / in-game Tutorials / Menus)
Too easy, even for kids this proves no challenge.
*Quality of the Singleplayer Story, Cutscenes and/or Multiplayer Modes (whichever is available). If a game has no Story or no Multiplayer it won’t be rated (thus no negative effect on score).
Story: 8.5/10, Multiplayer: Not Available
*Graphics, Texture Quality, Character Details, Lighting, Weather Effects, Animations, Loading Times, Number of Loading Screens, does it run smoothly
Very solid performance all around.
*Amount of Content, Production Quality, Replay Value, is there enough content to justify a purchase
A lot of content, will keep you busy for a while. Fast loading.
*Rates how much fun the Platinum / 1000 Gamerscore is to achieve: Are trophies fun to do? Do trophies restrict freedom of gameplay? Missable trophies? Multiple playthroughs required? Luck-based trophies? Pointless farming/grinding? Glitched Trophies? Are stats/trophies tracked correctly?
Gets really grindy at the end (especially skirmishes).
|Extraordinary Score Increase or Deduction
*Reserved for extraordinarily good or bad features that the other categories don’t cover (such as game-breaking bugs). This score is directly added/subtracted from the final score.
only 5% dialogues narrated / 95% not narrated.
Ni No Kuni 2 teaches kids some powerful lessons: how to be a good leader, a decent human being (or cat-person haha), and how to solve political differences by peaceful diplomatic means opposed to brute force. While it may be too simplistic for hardcore gamers, it’s one of the best role-playing-games for younger audiences.
Reviewed on PS4 Pro. Played with day-one patch. Reached 99,99% game completion (just missing 1 hidden higgledy stone collectible).
Review Copy provided by the publisher. For more on how reviews are scored, check out the Review Policy.
For everything needed to reach 100% completion, check out the complete Ni No Kuni 2 Wiki & Strategy Guide.