Review: Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

My Review of Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

My summary: An RPG/Squad/Kingdom Builder/Idle Game blend about a young prince whose father is murdered, and is then saved by the President of the United States (not even kidding), and gathers a group of friends to create a new kingdom and unite the world in peace.

Why I picked up this game: Someone told me about the kingdom building aspect of it, and I was interested in that, plus I needed some sort of reward for finishing Camp Nanowrimo.

What I knew going in: Kingdom builder/RPG with Ghibli designs.

My response:

Positives:

This game is actually like three games in one.

There’s the RPG game, with free-moving combat a-la FFXV, only fighting felt easy and much more natural than FFXV. You level up, get new weapons and armor, and unlock and level up spells. There were also higglties. I didn’t use them the way they expected you to, but meh. My gear was so overpowered by late game that I didn’t need them.

There was also a …squad combat game, that you used to fight battles they they wanted to feel better than a party of three versus some monsters. You had four squads of people that would then fight other squads of people as you took territory and built structures. It was a ton of fun, but I don’t think I made it sound all that great.

And lastly, my main reason for purchasing the game, a kingdom-building idle game that I focused most of my attention on. The resource you needed in order to build up the kingdom was timing based. So even when I wasn’t playing the game proper, I would leave the game running and check back every half-hour or so to use the recources or finish research. You also recruit people from other kingdoms to yours in order to put them to work. I found out later that there were checkpoints in the main story where you were required to have your kingdom to have a certain amount of “reputation”. I wasn’t even aware of this because I was basically building up my kingdom as much as I could whenever I could. This is also why my gear was so boss by the end of the game.

An interesting feature was that every quest basically told you exactly where to go and who to talk to. There were even markers on your map telling you who had a quest for you. And when you were tracking a quest 90% of the quests showed you exactly where to go on the map. Part of me was annoyed that the game held your hand so tightly in this regard, but the other part of me was happy to not have to do much wandering around without purpose, or talking to everyone each time a major plot point resolved in order to find new quests. So in the end, I enjoyed it, but I could see some people being annoyed by the simplicity of it.

Overall, loved the game-play itself.

Negatives:

Not impressed with the dungeons or the so called “mazes”. Dungeons were stupidly linear (and bland looking), with no more than two paths at a time, one of which would either loop back in or end in short order. And then there were the Dimensional Mazes. I was terrified to go in the first time because they talked about how you couldn’t save, and there was no map, and over time the enemies would get stronger. They were stupid and not at all difficult, and the ones I found during the course of normal game-play didn’t even have good items in them.

Music: I started playing without sound on at all because the music in almost every place besides Evermore had this …urgency to it that made me tense. Like the kind of music that plays when you need to hurry up, only it was like that all the time. English voices weren’t bad.

The Story. Okay yes, there are spoilers from here on. You’ve been warned, but the story is so bad and literally nonsensical in places that I really have to make fun of it. Tuck yourself in, this is going to be a long one.

So the game starts in a motorcade in what appears to be the ‘real’ world. We zoom in on an older fellow in front of what is very obviously supposed to be the seal of the United States President. He is driving into “New York City” and a nuke goes off. Stay with me. The Potus, having survived, begins to glow.

Cut to Evan, the prince who’s father has just been killed because of course he has, with the bad guards are closing in and suddenly light! Out of nowhere, the Potus, Roland, who is now like 30 years younger (and hott for Ghibli), shows up, takes in the situation, and shoots the guards.

Eventually Roland gets decked out with swords and a weapon-holding magic armband that refills his gun with bullets … They escape, leaving Evan’s bad-ass nursemaid behind to fight a mouse centaur who looks awesome but who never shows up again!

We (the party) meet up with some air pirates, and then go find some unsettled land, fight off a few bandits, get their own Kingmaker (a magical animal you need in order to prove you’re a king) and establish Evanland. Okay, so now the Kingdom Building aspect finally starts.

Everyone goes to Dogland in order to have the leader sign our peace treaty to unite the world. (Evan is a cat from Cat/Mouseland) We discover a sinister snake-wearing man is controlling the Dogleader and using the country’s love of gambling to make things very uncomfortable (financially) for people. Snakeman steals the Dogland Kingmaker, but everything’s okay otherwise and we get the treaty signed. No problem with this story yet.

Then onto the water kingdom. We get there and there are all kinds of weird rules in place (like it’s illegal to fall in love and outsiders are shunned) and there is this creepy eye watching everything. We get the Waterqueen’s right hand man in our party, who swears the queen is good even though all evidence points to her being all sorts of insane.

After we finish this area’s dungeon, (and lose the Waterland Kingmaker to Snakeman) we learn that the Waterqueen’s rules are not insane. In fact this kingdom was blown up by a volcano some time ago, and she has been continually turning back time so the kingdom still exists, but for the spell to work the number of people on the island has to stay the same. So no one can move off or onto the island, nor can any new people be born. But it’s okay (and totally not insane) because she’s going to let the spell lapse since they’ve had enough time, but before that she wants to marry her right-hand man, but weddings take a while to plan so she tells him to stay in our party until the wedding is ready to take place, and of course she’ll sign our peace treaty. I’m not even making this up. This was literally the ending cut scene for this area. Not to mention immediately after this I started recruiting people from her kingdom to my own. The kingdom never blew up and the Waterqueen and her subjects helped in the final battle …

Next we headed to Techland, a kingdom where technology (and guns) exist. (So at least I have some sort of explanation for why the armband was able to create bullets.) Here, Techleader is working his workers literally to death, but turns out he’s also controlled by Snakeman who steals Blastoise, I mean the Techland Kingmaker. Once Techleader is no longer under Snakeman’s influence, he’s cool again. No matter those people who died. We’re all friends forever.

Brief interlude where Roland convinces Evan (and the rest of the party) that he’s betraying him so he can sneak into Mouseland and get an important artifact by buddying up to Mouseking. Only Mouseking was never fooled, Roland manages to get the artifact, and explains the convoluted plan to Evan after the fact …

Then we all go back to Mouseland, where the cats now live in the slums because they treated the mice horribly before. Was Evan’s father a bad guy? Turns out no, because we find his journal, which is holding his soul (or part of it?) and he was trying to fix the hatred between the cats and mice, but Snakeman messed things up. Oh, and Snakeman shows up and takes the Mouseland Kingmaker. But Mouseleader signs our treaty. Yay!

Now Snakeman has all four Kingmakers and brings back his lost kingdom, along with a huge Kingmaker, the Horned One, that starts sucking the souls out of everyone in the world (except Evanland, because we still have our Kingmaker)

All the kingdoms have united and go to fight this new threat. (All while Roland starts having dark energy fits.) We get to Snakeman who reveals his plan to us along with the fact that he is Roland’s soulmate! (!?? Literally the day before I got to this cut scene I was watching a speed run of Ni No Kuni the first, and found out a big part of that game is that there are two worlds and each person in one world has a soulmate (in that they share a soul, not they’re lovers) with someone from the other world. There was no mention or allusion to this in Ni No Kuni II until this reveal.)

Anyway, turns out this is why Roland was pulled to this world, and we can’t fight Snakeman because it will hurt Roland. We fight him anyway. Then we find out Snakeman is doing this because he fell in love with the Kingmaker of his own kingdom and the gods punished him by wiping out his kingdom, and turning the Kingmaker into the Horned One.

We eventually triumph only to find out Snakeman (and kingdom) was not cursed by the gods, but the Kingmaker chose to become human to love Snakeman. In doing so she released the energy that made her a Kingmaker, which then destroyed the kingdom, and (I think) in trying to stop the backlash of energy she released, got caught in it and turned into the Horned One? I kind of gave up on the story by this point. Either way, they can’t be together. But Snakeman is going to start over and build a new kingdom from scratch because Evan inspired him with 12-year-old wisdom.

Now at the end of each chapter, Evan has been meeting a “curious boy” in his dreams who often says something wise and/or hints at something that happens in the next chapter, leaving the player to wonder who he could possibly be! (Mostly I forgot about him until each chapter ended.) Well, turns out he is King Ferdinand, the king who, in the past, united the whole world. Only King Ferdinand is actually Evan’s son, from the future, but he has the ability to send his mind through time, and of course he wanted to go back and see his father as a child, because who wouldn’t? Oh, and why was Evan told King Ferdinand lived in the past? Obviously because the person who told us was a seer, but didn’t know she was a seer, so she thought King Ferdinand was from the past. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

/sigh

And then, of course, Roland gets pulled back home, ends up in his motorcade again, heading into “New York City” when fireworks go off instead of a nuke.

Thanks for playing!

Do I recommend this game?: I highly enjoyed the game and feel I got more than my money’s worth of enjoyment, I just had to ignore the story to do so.

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