There's really no other way to put it: Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is a delight. Level-5's latest role-playing game is as charming as it is colourful, and after around 15 hours of play, we simply can't wait to continue our adventure. So far, it really has been worth the wait.
As its title suggests, Ni no Kuni II is a sequel to Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, which released on the PlayStation 3 back in 2013 here in the West. The game was well received both by critics and players, and this next instalment looks set to follow in its footsteps.
It's not a direct sequel, though. There's no continuation of the original's story or anything like that -- just a few nods here and there. As such, newcomers shouldn't be worried about being late to the party. It also helps that Ni no Kuni II has undergone some significant gameplay changes, ultimately making it a very different experience to its predecessor.
This is still an adventure that'll see you travel across a vast fantasy world, battling monsters and making a stand against evil, but everything feels more streamlined. From the fluid menus to the combat system, Ni no Kuni II is a lot easier to wrap your head around, especially during the opening few hours.
However, that's not to say that things have been dumbed down. As we've continued with young would-be king Evan on his quest, the game's steadily introduced new systems and mechanics. We've learned the ins and outs of special attacks, took part in real-time strategy skirmishes, and started work on building our very own kingdom.
All of that may sound like a bit of a hodgepodge, but honestly, it all flows together incredibly well -- and that's really our main takeaway after 15 hours. Everything in Ni no Kuni II is just so buttery smooth. The frame rate, which seems to hold at a constant 60 frames per second, is silky smooth. The controls and character animations are super smooth. The art style's so smooth that your eyes just kind of glide across the screen as they're caressed by colours and soft edges. Heck, even the new action-based combat system feels smooth.
Speaking of which, we didn't expect the combat to be this enjoyable. As mentioned, Ni no Kuni II does away with the original game's system almost entirely, replacing it with battles that are full-on action. It's a change that many returning players will no doubt be unsure of, but we've been loving it so far.
On a surface level, combat is simple. Each character comes equipped with both a melee weapon and a long range weapon. There are light and heavy attacks, a dodge roll, and you can block to lessen incoming damage. Special moves and spells are also thrown into the mix, and little elemental creatures known as higgledies offer support in the form of buffs and powerful magic. It's learning how to best make use of your many tools that brings depth to the system.
Again, just charging about the battlefield feels great. The controls are tight and responsive, and the artificial intelligence does a good job of supporting you. Battering beasts of all shapes and sizes is satisfying and surprisingly moreish; this is the kind of battle system that you keep wanting to come back to, even if it's just to grind for materials or loot.
Overall, we've been having a blast with Ni no Kuni II -- it really is a joy to play. At this point, we're just hoping that the game keeps on delivering, and if it can, then we're probably looking at one of the best RPGs on the PlayStation 4.
Are you looking forward to Ni no Kuni II? Stay tuned for our full review very soon, but until then, embark on a grand adventure into the comments section below.