I’m just now getting into the Ni No Kuni series. I didn’t have the pleasure of playing the first one because it didn’t appear to be interesting. That, is a decision I now regret. This time around however, I felt compelled to play Ni No Kuni II. It looked really good from what I saw in the trailers and from what I had read all over the internet. The enthusiasm was everywhere. It also helped that I was kind of in withdrawal from not having played a good jrpg in a really long time. I’ve been caught up in the rapture of MMO style games like Destiny 2 and Monster Hunter World. I needed a change, but truthfully, Ni No Kuni 2 scared me a little bit. It’s not often that you get a game that looks as good as Ni No Kuni 2 does that plays very well. There’s always a caveat, something about the game won’t be right and it’ll just be a game that looks good that costs $60 bucks. Fast forward two weeks and I can say in no uncertain terms that Ni No Kuni 2 is everything I hoped it would be. Not only does this game look great but it’s so much fun. I’ve been playing now everyday since it came out and it’s a must have game if you’re into adventure, hack and slash fighting with a good but cheesy story.
Story and Gameplay
Ni No Kuni 2’s story starts of with a cutscene of Roland as what appears to be something reminiscent of the President of the United States. He’s riding along in a motorcade when it’s suddenly struck by nuclear missiles and whatever remained of the city he was in seemed to have been vaporized. When Roland “comes to”, we’re in the kingdom of Ding Dong Dell. It’s hard to tell if this actually something that is taking place or a figment of Roland’s imagination or even the afterlife but it’s clear that you’re going on a journey.
The story begins to take shape when you encounter Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum or just Evan who is a young boy prince who suddenly becomes the de facto King after his father was killed mysteriously during a brutal coup. The power hungry and jealous leader named Mausinger who is the leader of the rodents that had warred with Evan’s father for years takes control of the castle afterwards. The story begins to unfold during this time and Roland helps with the escape of King Evan as Mausinger and his army attempt to kill them.
With the help of Nella (R.I.P), Evan and Roland make it out of the castle alive and now begin to process to try and understand the scope of what has just happened and find a pathway forward. In this, they realized that in order to survive and get back rightfully what is theirs that they start over and create a new Kingdom in order to challenge Mausinger. This is what Ni No Kuni 2 is about at a basic level. The unfolds a great deal to unveil a sinister plot but, play the game, we won’t ruin it here.
Ni No Kuni 2 still focuses on action battle. Free flowing melee attacks with long range weapons and spells. It plays with a lot of fluidity and selection. Your character can hold up to three weapons at any given time and through the use of the zing meter you can charge up those weapons giving you a boost as you fight. The longer you keep fighting you’ll be able to unleash a brutal melee attack once all of your weapons are charged up to 100%.
Higgeldies are also a huge help in your battles going forward. You can recruit a variety of different ones that can perform a different set of helpful tasks that aid in healing or attack. You can equip four on the battlefield at any given time. Most of the Higgeldies will setup some cannon blasts or a big blast that will invaluable to you in battle. Others will setup healing or damage shields.
The battles in Ni No Kuni 2 are very engaging and they are a ton of fun to be involved in. There really isn’t too much strategy involved in the battles in this game. It’s fast paced hack and slash but more often than not you can easily forget that you also have an HP meter and if you’re focused on defeating enemies too much you can end up dead quickly. Using your jump dodge and blocking to guarantee victory in Ni No Kuni 2’s tight battles. Power ups and health boosts drop from battles often so collecting them is vital because more often than not you’ll find monsters will engage you that sometimes are well above your earned level. Even the bosses you fight can be well above your earned level.
As you level up in the game you’ll be able to use the tactic tweaker to provide some additional combat and of course tactical support. The tactic tweaker uses situational options that can give you a better physical and magical defense for certain monsters you’ll surely encounter. You can toggle whether or not you prefer XP or gold during battle, protection against status ailments and how your character behaves in battle, particularly the AI characters. Leveling up the tactic tweaker with battle points and changing it often will be your best friend as the game progresses.
Skirmishes are another form of battle within Ni No Kuni 2. Some of the skirmishes that you’ll be involved in are necessary for the story’s progression while for the most part they’re optional. I’m torn on my feelings about skirmishes. On one hand I understand how the skirmish represents the battles that building a Kingdom would probably require but on the other hand I’m wondering if the skirmishes were necessary for the story’s progression considering that for the most part they’re optional. The skirmishes can be fun if you like this type of fighting, don’t get me wrong. Your army’s strength and capability is determined by how you setup your army before the battle. You can use certain powerups right away that give your army an advantage going right in. The military might point system is a frustrating one. The more you fight the more you have to rely on those points to replenish fallen soldiers and to use your in-battle powerups. Sometimes while fighting the armies I didn’t always get back those points only to be overwhelmed by the opposing army. This could just be a mismanagement issue on my part in not handling my might points effectively but the gamer in me had to do all of them so you could look at it the same way I did and take it for the challenge or just do what’s required
Kingdom building is the most fun that you’ll have in Ni No Kuni 2. In fact, it’s the part of the game that you’ll undoubtedly spend the most time with. Once you get past the Goldpaw chapter of the story you now have the ability to begin building a Kingdom anew. Evermore is ultimately the name of the new Kingdom that you’ll be building and throughout that process you’ll have to do a series of sidequests that emphasizes bringing citizens to the to the new Kingdom that have certain abilities and trades. All of it leads to having a stable and functioning Kingdom that generates revenue to expand the Kingdom and create an ecosystem.
The citizens that you ultimately recruit to join you around the world will be your armor builders, healers, generals that will enhance your army for skirmishes, mystics who will create better spells for you, a home for Higgeldie raising, battle rations and so on. Doing the sidequests are essential to this recruitment. There are a multitude of sidequests. It’s not necessary to do them all but it is necessary to do them. Getting people to join your kingdom is not as important as getting the right people to join your kingdom. I found this out in my run of the game. Every person you recruit will have a specialty and a certain level of influence and they’ll be measured in rank how effective they’ll be combined. You can recruit beginners, veteran and masters and finding the right mix is what expedites the research upgrades the Kingdom needs to gain strength. Placing citizens anywhere won’t be helpful. Just because you draft a beginner citizen to a trade house doesn’t mean they’ll be an improvement to that trade house. Prioritization and suitable placement is best and research is key. The more research you do levels up your citizens “IQ” and they can easily become a veteran and master over time and become major assets. Again, it’s about placement and balance. You don’t want to put a beginning spell caster in an armor building trade house. It won’t work well. Prioritize.
My advise? Follow through. Expansion takes patience and planning. Save your KG (Kingdom guilders) and check back in to Evermore often to collect them. Expand your coffers to high as you can. Level up the Kingdom as a whole to its max level and do the sidequests within the Kingdom itself, don’t ignore them. Build that Kingdom
Swift Solutions is just another way to do sidequests, recruit some different citizens and get some rare items. Nothing to see here.
Although I hadn’t played the first Ni No Kuni, playing Ni No Kuni 2 doesn’t make me feel as if I missed out. Yes, it was bit easy and I rarely came across a rough patch or any real adversity but it wasn’t a bad thing although I imagine that some would view that as a knock on the game. I get it. Oddly, the more I played NNK 2 is the more I realize that this game was more about the Kingdom and becoming a great king rather than the story and battles. Everything else is kind of supplementary and complimentary including the games’ overall “difficulty”. I’ve spent more time doing the things pertaining to the kingdom than anything else. It was the thing about the game that made it so much fun.
What Ni No Kuni 2 does do is give you everything that you like in a jrpg. Level-5 and Akihiro Hino being involved in the game and making it beautiful doesn’t hurt either. Overall, Ni No Kuni 2 is an experience that I personally haven’t gotten from a jrpg in a little awhile. It took me about 60 hours to complete the game in its entirety. I’m not done with the game however. This game does have a bit of replay value as some of the quests don’t become available until after you complete the story. There are alternate costumes and weapons that are worth grabbing if you want to give the game a shot again. That also makes this purchase a not so bad one. Now that I’m done with this I’m going to go backwards and see what I missed out on with the first one.