In this year’s Bandai Namco booth tour (which offered a peer at two games I nominated for E3 Best Of Show: Ni No Kuni 2 & Dragon Ball Fighter Z) I got hands on time with a sequel to one of my favorite games of the last several years: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. It’s sequel Ni No Kuni 2: The Revenant Kingdom had different demos split up per console. Check out my my first impressions below.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was a Level 5 production with animated cut scenes and an overall visual likeness produced with the help of Studio Ghibli. This collaboration brought the story of Oliver, and his journey to save his mother by traveling to another world to life. In that game you acquired ‘familiars’ which would level up and fight alongside you.
In Ni No Kuni 2: The Revenant Kingdom, there are some significant changes that’d feel risky and concerning if it weren’t for a well-earned trust in Level 5’s quality and decisions. Studio Ghibli is no longer collaborating, but Level 5 still has Yoshiyuke Momuse, ex Ghibli animator, as their animation director -- and it shows. Ni No Kuni 2 is drop dead gorgeous on current gen systems. Also gone are all the characters from the original, the pokemon-like familiars you knew and love, AND the combat system from the original.
In the familiar’s place are Higgledies, mobs of pikminesque sprites of varying support benefits that come with you on the battlefield. The combat is now more real-time, light and heavy attacks, spells, and buffs activate at the press of a button. In my demo I came across two boss-fights that happen at later points in the game. Most but a final encounter with a dragon felt good. This dragon boss tended to drag on (pun unintended) and on as I repeated similar beats to knock down his Destiny Boss-esque health bar.
Square is your light attack and triangle is your heavy. They can be combined for some obligatory combos. R2 is held for special abilities and spells on cooldowns that rewrite the original actions that correspond with the face buttons. There’re human companions you can control one at a time in battle that also add their own element of strategy and variety. And, it’s been announced that Ni No Kuni 2 will feature some level of Multiplayer online interaction, though it’s mostly hush hush for now.
I like the direction Ni No Kuni 2 seems to be taking. Instead of playing it safe Level 5 has almost entirely rebuilt the gameplay foundation while maintaining the striking visuals and world that we all fell in love with in Wrath of the White Witch. The gameplay systems seem a lot more complex than I was able to grasp in the bits and pieces I played, and I’m excited to dive deeper into them
Ni No Kuni 2: The Revenant Kingdom is scheduled to release on November 10th of this year on PS4 and PC.