GENRE: Japanese Role Playing Game

PUBLISHER: Bandai Namco

REVIEWED ON: PlayStation 4 Pro

AVAILABLE FOR: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Pro


The best way to describe the Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom to the uninitiated is what would happen if The Chronicles of Narnia were adapted by Oscar winning Japanese animation studio - Studio Ghibli.

It's a sweeping and beautiful epic that tells its grand 50-hour tale with child like wonder. Starting with a literal bang, Ni no Kuni II wastes no time whisking players away to the fairytale kingdom of Ding Dong Dell. Ruled by the cat-like Grymalkins tribe, no sooner are players introduced to the soon-to-be crowned prince Evan, then they are forced to escape a a bloody coup d'etat presided over by the royal advisor Mausinger and members of the mouse tribe. 

A king without a kingdom, Evan, soon resolves to forge a new land, where everyone can live happily ever after.

After the first few linear hours in which Evan amasses a band of followers including the mysterious Roland, a rag tag band of sky pirates, and the delightful (and, I'm pleased to say) very welsh sprite named Lofty he eventually establishes a new Kingdom - Evermore.

It's at this point that the gameworld opens up, and the Ni no Kuni II's myriad of systems and play styles begin to gel together into something very special indeed.

From the initial trailers it would be easy to be fooled into thinking that Ni no Kuni II was just an a-typical JRPG. Though it does feature many staples of the genre like frequent overworld fights against bands of roving monsters, grand set pieces, some fantastic puzzles, and plenty of old fashioned dungeon crawling it dispenses with the turn based stat building and monster rangling of the original, replacing it with something that feels far more modern, immediate, and dare I say it, a little western.

That's not to say it doesn't feature the usual party building and stat management, but there's an air of the Witcher 3 (with a hint of Pikmin) about the combat and its challenging boss fights that I just couldn't shake - and in my opinion this is no bad thing. On the surface combat is simple, with players attacking with light and heavy blows mixed with ranged attacks to dominate their enemies. But dig a little deeper and there's a world of nuance and strategy thanks in part to adorable little sprites called Higgledies. these kodama inspired cuties fight alongside their human comrades and help players by buffing and healing party members, as well as unleashing powerful (and often comical) attacks of their own.

But it's the way that that Ni no Kuni II handles the nitty gritty of the fledgling kingdom of Evermore's rise to power that makes it stand out - coupling a Civilisation-esque kingdom building mini game that allows players to develop better spells and gear for their party and improve Evan's ever expanding army, with skirmishes that see a chibified Evan strut across the world map commanding his forces in moments that feel familiar to Town Factory's cult classic - Little Kings Story.

Though it appears quaint on the surface, Ni no Kuni II, like the Ghibli films it takes inspiration from is not afraid to explore deeper themes and pulls no punches, its surprising opening, environmentalist undertones, and classic good vs evil narrative remains thoroughly engrossing, entertaining and ultimately heartwarming throughout, with a cast of diverse, and brilliantly drawn characters that feel far more distinct than the usual arcitypes seen in most other JRPGs.

Like it's predecessor Ni no Kuni II's visuals are lush, vibrant and at times jaw dropping - using technological wizardry to make a living breathing cartoon world that is incredibly easy to get lost in. This is accompanied by another enchanting score by Ghibli's own Joe Hisashi.

A sweeping and poignant epic. Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is a masterpiece that JRPG fans will not want to miss.

SCORE: 9/10