The Cat (boy prince) Returns
This weekend at Namco Bandai’s “Level Up” event in Paris, I had the chance to sit down with RPG Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, sequel to Studio Ghibli’s Wrath of the White Witch, released back in 2013.
I had previously tried Ni no Kuni II back at EGX, but with only a few minutes playtime allowed, bad sound, and sore knees, I wasn’t really taken in by the anime adventure, despite its attractive visual style, instantly reminiscent of many cartoons of my youth. We didn’t even realise they were from Japan. That’s life without Google, kids.
But this weekend, equipped with headphones and a seat, I was able to let myself sink into the Revenant Kingdom experience a little more, coming away pleased with how the game is shaping up. I played three scenarios, all of which are featured below in glorious 30FPS (sorry).
The first video sees usurped catboy prince Evan Pettiwhisker and his compadre Roland — ROLAND — attempt to rescue a young girl from a Wyvern’s lair. The second features the game’s strategic warfare, which has you adjusting tactics to efficiently manage troop-based battles. Finally Evan, Roland and the (now-rescued) Tani face a “Trial of Courage” or, in reality, a massive clusterfuck of a scrap.
I’ll be the first to admit my combat abilities leave much to be desired. My only recent action-RPG experience comes from bumbling through Hyperdimension Neptunia games, with my top-tier Kingdom Hearts skills a forgotten memory. Evan’s ability to call upon the Pikmin-like “Higgledies”, allows him to buff his attack and defence skills, sometimes resulting in stunning visual effects. I had a little trouble with the startup times of some attacks, often leaving me flailing in the breeze as my original target had shuffled off elsewhere, perhaps there is a camera lock-on mode to aid scrubs like myself?
The battlefield scenes are novel, but not particularly engaging. While it feels satisfying to swing your troops into Rock, Paper, Scissors based warfare, recalling the heady days of Battle Beasts. The “war” itself feels quaint and polite. I’m not expecting Apocalypse Now, but although the characters are engaged in intense combat, you can’t help but imagine them stopping for cucumber sandwiches en-route. Perhaps I need more context of the high-stakes at play here, as the concept of en-masse battlefield warfare doesn’t mesh with the cutesy look.
In the following video, I play like when your dad walks into the room after his three morning beers and says “Let me show you how it’s done, son.”
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is a great-looking title, which is shaping up well. It has a very specific appeal, what with its charming, upper-class characters and inoffensive atmosphere, but I enjoyed my time with it. Fans of anime epics, action RPGs and magical, globe-trotting adventures would be wise to keep their eyes out for its arrival, currently for slated for March 23 on PS4 and PC.
[Travel to this event was provided by Bandai Namco.]