Ni No Kuni: Wrath of The White Witch was my favorite game on the PS3. The console era of the time was severely lacking in large-scale JRPGs and Ni No Kuni certainly scratched that itch. It had clear influences from JRPGs of old; like Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy and even Pokemon. After numerous delays, the sequel finally arrives. How does it stack up to the original? Let’s find out:
The reason for the delays were in-fact the battle system in Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom which thankfully they took their time to refine. The designers of the game intended for a more “international” design for the battle system, referring to Western games preferring real-time combat in their games over turn-based. So gone are the clunky, hack-and-slash battles. Now the combat feels like Kingdom Hearts, with more tactics involved as we’ll soon find out.
The first game had capture-able Familiars that really borrowed a lot from Pokemon, while also becoming the focal point of the battle system. There were over 200 familiars to catch and they all had branching evolutions and items to equip. The sequel, however, borrowed more from Pikmin instead of Pokemon this time around. Higgledies hoard in the hundreds and boosts your party members in battle instead of being actual party members; making the combat flow a lot faster.
The original allowed you to have 12 characters at once! Which is crazy for a JRPG. You had 3 human characters, all with their own skills, weapons, and 3 familiars each. It was frantic trying to get the AI of your party members to listen to your commands while switching between all 12 members. Thankfully, the sequels now only has 3 people in the party at once, all with their own skill sets, as well as their own compelling quest lines. This makes for a more fuller experience with your allies.
Ni No Kuni’s story was an eclectic mix; it started in an Earthbound-esque real-world setting and only after about 30-40 minutes of the game does the main character, Oliver, gets transported to the actual fantasy world. It was a slow grind and you only got your first party member and taste of real combat after an hour or so. Ni No Kuni II kicks things into high-speed from the get-go. With Roland, a man from the real-world, immediately getting transported to a castle and must escort the young king Evan out into the world. A good start to an amazing sequel.
The JRPG cocktail continues! While the first one borrows a lot from JRPGs that were popular in the 90s, Revenant Kingdom borrows from more recent JRPG hits. With the Skirmish Mode, you must command an army to conquer and reclaim your land from enemies. Obviously, it parallels Fire Emblems tactical combat, though styled in the more fantastical Ni No Kuni way. It’s exciting and certainly a change of pace from the usual battles.
Another borrowed mechanic; this time from the Square Enix 3DS hit, Bravely Default. Just as in Bravely Default, you also use an overthrown monarch in Ni No Kuni II. Instead of a single village though, you get to make an entire kingdom instead, hence the subtitle being Revenant Kingdom. In this mode, you get to grow your kingdom with shops and guilds that can help you in your quest. The first Ni No Kuni was a very straightforward affair, go from town to town, battle the baddies in between. The kingdom building adds more fun in between all that.
Graphics and Artstyle
The cel-shaded graphics are still in full-force in Ni No Kuni II, but now with the PS4 and modern PCs as it’s main driving power, it's looking more crisp and vibrant than ever. The Ghibli-influence is still there and will mesmerize you all the way through. It’s not that the first game’s art and graphics were bad, it’s just that the sequel improves it so much and really shows when you’re playing it on a PS4 Pro or on the highest settings on PC.
Being On PC
Yes, this is a huge improvement from the first game. With the original being a strictly Playstation affair, the sequel opted for PCs as well. A new trend among JRPG developers, who are now seeing the huge market potential of PCs, this trend can also be seen with the recent release of Final Fantasy XV and the upcoming Dragon Quest XI on PCs. This allows for more people to jump into the game, which hopefully means more Ni No Kuni in the future.
Wrath of The White Witch’s overworld will definitely remind you of the overworlds of Final Fantasy VII, VIII and IX. Large, flat lands, occasionally barred by mountains and seas, that can only be crossed by a particular vehicle or chocobo, with towns and cities acting as keyspots. Revenant Kingdom has a bigger overworld, with a more varied terrain, more 3D than its predecessor, with more inclines and nooks and crannies for Evan and the crew to explore.
I have to say, the voice acting in the first game was funny, not in the way the developers intended I think. It was a bit stilted and the deliveries could have been better. There was also an array of accents they used between characters, making them all sound forcefully Irish, British, Welsh or Scottish. This time around, the voice acting is better, though they kept the weird accent placements, it sounds more natural this time around, instead of sounding like American voice actors mimicking their European counterparts. Or you could be smart and just switch it to the Japanese audio instead…
And with that, those are the 10 things Ni No Kuni does better than the original. The first one was a bit of a cult classic, with multiple friends having to borrow my copy since they never even heard of it. Hopefully, this sequel will fare better in the long run. Check out the first hour of the game, right here from our YouTube page: