Years after the first chapter, the much acclaimed JRPG of the Level 5 guys is back in stores, which amazed, moved and made everyone dream. Ni no Kuni II: The Destiny of a Kingdom is finally a reality!
Version tested: PlayStation 4
It was back in 2010 when Level 5, in collaboration with the guys from Studio Ghibli, launched Ni no Kuni: The Threat of the White Witch for Nintendo DS, a jrpg that would have changed the genre. Simple and attractive, it was presented on the market in a version designed specifically for portable consoles. After a year it was ported to Playstation 3, and, after another two years, it was launched all over the world.
Not without flaws, it had managed to win the hearts of all its users, however, by breaking through human feelings and people's empathy. Success, therefore, was assured, and this allowed the Level 5 guys to work and get their hands on a possible second chapter.
Second chapter that has become reality, and, thanks to simple and delicate grafts, a product that should have passed on the sly and dedicated to a small niche has instead become a game for everyone, especially for dreamers.
With these premises, Ni no Kuni II: The Destiny of a Kingdom collects the heavy inheritance left to him by his predecessor, in the hope that it may be worthy of bearing that name.
The fate of a kingdom in the balance.
Set centuries after the events of the first Ni no Kuni, Ni no Kuni II: The Destiny of a Kingdom leads us to take on the role of Evan. Evan Pettiwhisker Felix is the future heir to the throne of Gatmandù, son of King Leopold, who died prematurely. During the coronation ceremony, however, the evil Ratoleon, adviser to the old King, will plot a coup to obtain the throne, ousting the felinids in the name of the murinids.
With this simple premise we are introduced to the world of Ni no Kuni II. Roland, a president of our world mysteriously catapulted into the Other World, will take care of Evan to escape from the castle. Thanks to his primitive skills with the sword, he will be able to take Evan out of the castle, and effectively allowing him to live another day.
Our initial choice will be to slowly take back the throne; however, as the chapters pass, the goal will veer towards something more childishly impossible, at least in our world. Aided by extraordinary companions, Evan will then set out to obtain his new goal. Unfortunately new dangers loom, and it will always be the King's skill to ensure that these can be averted or not.
The plot itself is very childish and recalls themes that were mostly dreamed of when you were still a child. The quality of the dialogues, the content of the missions, the tenacity of Evan and companion are completely unripe. The presence of Roland, Zoran and other adult characters is useless; unfortunately they too will expire in immaturity, in a bad domino effect for those looking for a certain type of content. The same animations of the characters, moreover, recalls a girl lost and sought after by a user who perhaps needs to hear stories of heroic acts and tenacity.
A world full of activity.
When Evan isn't busy pursuing his goals, he's very busy. A great quality of Ni no Kuni II, in fact, is the variety of content and activities to be done. Admittedly, in this game you never get bored and you never stop discovering new things.
Among the various activities, of course, could not miss the very famous and coveted side quest. These are divided into two specific categories: fetch quests and Venturio activities.
Yes, unfortunately in Ni no Kuni II the side quests have no depth, they are just go from A to B, get and deliver that item or kill x monsters and collect the bounty. Nothing else. They are more of a direct way of recruiting talent, which I will come back to later on.
Venturio's assets, on the other hand, are the exact same thing. They too are a constant repetition of the same action to get Venturio tokens to spend from Solutions on the Fly. With these tokens it will be possible to buy talents or buy items on the market.
Furthermore, as if that were not enough, the contents of the side quests themselves are as childish as, if not more, than the main plot. However, this doesn't clash with the atmosphere of the game, and certainly, in its negativity, it's a plus.
An empty world.
The world where the events of Ni no Kuni II move is a whole world. This is no joke, the game is set on an entire planet, consisting of only two continents. However, before rejoicing, many recommendations must be made.
The world can be explored in Chibi style, with a top-down view and with clashes that are aggravated according to the level and proximity to the monster in question. Once in the fight, the view returns to third person and non-isometric and the characters regain their anime guise. Only in the cities, in the dungeons and on other few occasions the characters will have their characteristic anime style. Furthermore, the distances will not be regular, and rarely we will have the sensation of crossing a continent, and not, for example, a simple region.
In this world it will be possible to move on foot, by ship or by airship; the last two we will acquire with the continuation of the main plot. Personally, I found the way in which certain regions of the world before a particular chapter are inaccessible to be uninspiring. The fact of flying a ship to hide a specific location for plot reasons I found it not very appropriate and suitable with the context of the game.
Furthermore, the dungeons do not enjoy particular fantasy, and, apart from the main ones of the plot which are more elaborate, all the others are practically identical to each other. Without making too many comparisons, the feeling of Deja Vù had with Dragon Age II returns in the same way, if not more pressing still. In fact, many times there will be virtually identical areas within the same dungeon.
Finally, the world does not seem populated at all, quite the contrary. Excluding the four main cities and two settlements, it seems that the world is left to its destruction, and that there are no other peoples to experience it. The same feeling, however, was also breathed in the first chapter.
Among other worlds, cioffi and creatures of the curse.
The gameplay of Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is very simple, with the difficulty set down. Unfortunately, or fortunately, there will be no challenge to keep us busy, and the game will flow more by inertia than by skill.
The combat system is a live action. During the battles we will control three companions, each with their own characteristics, weapons and abilities. Not only that, it will be possible to have at our side four different categories of cioffi, which replace the old familiars. The latter are divided into several elements, such as fire, wind, water, light and darkness. There is also a category of normal ciofphs. Each single cioffo of the hundred present will have unique characteristics, and, if combined well, can give life to devastating effects, and can upset even more the already precarious balance of battles. Not only that, the equalizer will allow us to focus even more with Solario and therefore obtain certain effects and boosts based on the situation.
Among other things to go, special mention to the "nine" dream doors. Available from about mid-game, they will catapult us into real procedural labyrinths at the end of which there will be a boss to defeat. However, within these, exploration is not encouraged. In fact, after a while, the rewards will not be raised to the danger level of the area, and you will end up looking directly for the exit of the maze itself.
Another mention to the Creatures of Hex, corrupted enemies with darker powers stronger than their normal counterparts. Defeating them won't be easy, but the final and intermediate reward will be worth it. However, compared to their counterparts, they will not present new movesets or special moves, and they will be easily understood in the movements.
To govern you need to be skilled strategists.
At this point it is necessary to include two important additions of Ni no Kuni II: The Destiny of a Kingdom. In fact, in addition to the aforementioned activities, in this game it will be possible to take part in pitched battles and in the management of the new kingdom, Eostaria.
The first are Chibi-style battles, in which at most we will rule four troops with the aim of destroying all the ranks of the enemy. The companions that we can bring will be directly selected by the talents, and each of them will have its own attribute and specific skills. The right combination of these will allow us to win what is on balance the most difficult aspect of the game.
In Kingdom management, on the other hand, we find all mechanics that are obvious to those who have hung out in strategy games. Among the construction of the buildings, the improvement of the same and the strengthening of the castle we could find useful advantages. In fact, we will increase the research that individual talents can carry out and we will obtain boosts and bonuses for the fights, the pitched battles and the exploration itself.
To manage the kingdom, a special currency has been created, which will be shared by the pitched battles, and nothing else.
After having examined with particular minutia also the PC version of the title (in addition to the PS4 version, which is the subject of review), I can say that Ni no Kuni II: The Destiny of a Kingdom is developed with settings halfway between medium and high, with active filters. This at least on PS4 Slim. The quality of the textures, environments, particles and Aliasing will undoubtedly make the experience pleasant to the eye, without too many frills or nose curls.
The worrying aspect, however, is the frame rate. Although the title hits the coveted 60 frames per second, it makes a huge effort to keep them constant. This also and above all happens during fights. Considering that there is an option to have invincibility frames when dodging, the combination with the swinging frame rate can make the gaming experience really frustrating.
The audio, on the other hand, is always the same. Few music was added, as it was preferred to use those of the old chapter again, to create a sort of connection. Surely they are striking and beautiful, but I don't feel like rewarding particularly a reuse of material.
Ni no Kuni II: The Destiny of a Kingdom is certainly an excellent product, with yet childlike characters. For those looking for a mature product it is certainly not recommended, but for those who want to fly with the imagination and recall old emotions it is the right choice, able to amaze and move.
- - Variety of content
- - Heartwarming storyline
- - Role-playing mechanics suitable for beginners
- - Too childish
- - Recycled dungeons and music
- - Monotonous side quest