Reviews - Updated on April 12, 2022

Figured out why to wait for Ni no Kuni II

Nearly eight years ago, Ni no Kuni came out on the Nintendo DS. It was then re-released on PS3, and only now has a sequel that’s tearing up on PS4 and, new to PC. I would say that this is a long-awaited sequel, but I myself did not expect anything. I recently joined the console fraternity, and Namco did not bother to re-release the first part for current platforms. And if it weren’t for the opportunity to play the test version of the novelty, I would pass Revenant Kingdom without regret: who is climbing into the series from the second part?

Don’t repeat my mistake: Ni no Kuni II has nothing to do with the first part. Neither the plot, nor the gameplay, nor at the level of the topics raised. The only legacy of the original is the setting (a few hundred years apart) and the timeless visual style of Studio Ghibli. Here’s what you need to write in large letters on the cover: “There is no entry threshold”!

Figured out why to wait for Ni no Kuni II

Where, you say, does plagiarism end and continuity begin?

This is Miyazaki’s interactive work.

In my opinion, in order to be interested in the game, one visual style is enough. Ghibli is always an unmistakable recommendation: such a drawing practically guarantees a magical world, living characters and a charming story. And although, strictly speaking, the studio itself is not involved in the development of the sequel, all the main team members who helped work on the first part are also involved in the second.

The sound, music, character and environment design is just a dream. In the demo, I managed to go through three different locations, each of which is recognizable and unique in a good way – rocky peaks are replaced by wheat fields and a mystical purple forest.

Looking forward to a great story

We play as the treacherously deposed prince of the magical kingdom. The company includes the daughter of a pirate baron (pirates, by the way, are an excellent electorate) and a traveler between worlds, not a local, but outstanding in strategic planning.

In the three hours that I spent in the game, the story unfolded beautifully: we chose a plain that would be suitable for the foundation of the capital, went to the magical forest for resources, found out about the fraudulent casino city and tried to uncover the deception. All this is among colorful characters who can talk decently. True, as usual in Japan, without non-linearity – at least there were no forks on the specified segment.

Everything around is the standard of cuteness and sincerity (which only crowds of little minions are worth), and quite serious situations are hidden under the fabulous presentation – there are even cadastral frauds! According to the authors, they deliberately added an adult character and adult themes to keep everyone interested. I was.

Figured out why to wait for Ni no Kuni II

In this city, all decisions are made by throwing the dice. They even pay taxes!

Unique combat system

It is unique, at least for the European market. You travel on a global map – jump on rocks, pass rivers, fly or swim, choose your own route and even look for secret chests in the bushes. But every time you meet a monster, you get into combat mode, and it’s just interesting there.

Monsters and heroes of the party (three) appear in the same arena. A fight starts, where you control one character, like in some kind of slasher. The battle stretches across the entire area: your party members distract some of the “mobs” to themselves, you go around from the flanks and look for a convenient angle to use the ability.

That is, firstly, I do not remember such a large-scale slasher, where you need to strategically calculate the position of your heroes. Secondly, each of the party members can be taken under control in order to control the situation: if the life bar is empty, then you need to save the character “manually”. Or just cure from the menu.

Enemies several levels stronger than you are nice and hard to fight because you have to think. There is one more aspect: small minions – Higgledies – run around the field. They create circles of influence, periodically forcing them to run towards them in order to activate the ability: call for artillery, heal everyone around, or deal damage to everything around them.

Accordingly, when you see the “boss” Manticore on the global map and enter the battle, a huge carcass begins to rush around the location, and you only have time to dodge attacks. And you yourself are waiting for clouds of spirits to charge in order to inflict more damage on the enemy.

An unexpected strategic mode and a cool mix of genres

Since we are royalty in the new game, we have to fight wars. True, the console strategy mode is more like an arcade mini-game, but the mini-game is interesting and requires mastering.Figured out why to wait for Ni no Kuni II

A backstab does more damage, you need to memorize “timings” and many other nuances – this is, if not quite a slasher, then a wonderful beat ’em up.

View from above. Around the hero are four pre-selected regiments. We walk independently, and the shelves rotate around us clockwise or vice versa. Thus, we play the role of a moving death machine, attacking the enemy, spinning in the most favorable directions and using the personal abilities of the units. There were only two such battles in the demo, but at first I failed the second one with a bang, and the second time I went perfectly and almost without loss – it’s a matter of skill and approach.

Add to the two modes described above the story mode, where you explore big cities from a third-person perspective, communicate with characters and move the story forward. In sum, we get a diverse, rich gameplay, combined with an exciting and large-scale story.

As is customary among the Japanese, there is more than enough content in the game. There are a lot of monsters on the global map, as well as secrets. You can see the tails of optional fishing trips, side quests and, what the hell is not joking, a few yet unannounced elements.

Thanks to cool basic mechanics, hunting for “bosses” or just “grinding” should not get boring: I don’t know how it will be after fifteen, but after three hours you want to return to the battles again and again. And strategic puzzle missions are clearly not solved quickly.

One thing can bring – role-playing system. It is based on several adaptive sliders that you can change at least every ten minutes – you choose a bonus to kill either tough opponents or amorphous ones, receive either money or rare resources, resistance to fire or magic.

This is not even a role-playing system, but a simple setting without any depth. Skills of squad members also do not have to be selected – they open automatically. Therefore, the only chance not to get bored over a long distance in the game is one – to regularly update the composition of characters, minions and squads.

Figured out why to wait for Ni no Kuni II

Total War for the little ones.

***

Otherwise, Ni no Kuni II is definitely worth paying attention to for those who have positive associations with the visual style – this is an excellent game in every respect, which can only be broken at long distances. But for some reason I am sure that nothing bad will happen.

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