Originally conceived on the Nintendo DS, Ni no Kuni first name has marked the spirits with its killer prank realization and its scenario full of magic and emotion. The Ghibli touched is palpable at all levels: characters, sets, animations, visual effects, events, etc. The game, in the spirit, is worthy of a film by Hayao Miyazaki and it is certainly one of his greatest strengths. Also, the non-participation of Koganei’s studio could be a real weight for his suite, but Level-5 used several levers so that this absence is not too much felt. Or no Kuni II does it have the makings of a great title for fans? This is a question that needs to be asked.
Although Yoshiyuki Momose, the character designer, and Joe Hisaishi, the composer, are still there, Ni no Kuni II was not conceived in collaboration with the studio Ghibli. This may be a detail for some, but many fans have exposed their fears of facing a soulless game.
In order to prevent the break from being too big with the original, the team of Akihiro Hino chose to make a 180° turn, both in the gameplay and the staging, while maintaining an artistic touch reminiscent of the greatest Ghibli films.
A unique story
To avoid the comparison being too oppressive, Level-5 was based on a scenario and unpublished characters. Thus, Oliver and Lumi, hero of the first episode, leave room to the young Evan. The child, whose destiny is to become king, sees his character and his aptitudes being forged as he progresses.
The player participates in this initiation rite and discovers how a kid, accompanied by faithful acolytes, mourns his old life in order to reach the throne. In the spirit, the frame of Ni no Kuni II is less magical than the Vengeance of the Celestial Witch, but manages, by little touches, to restore the magic of the studio Ghibli.
Overall, the characters are more worked. However, it is obvious that the staging, materialized by in-game kinematics, does not have the same emotional impact as the sumptuous sequences of traditional animation of the first Ni no Kuni.
Certainly, the protagonists of Yoshiyuki Momose are totally in the spirit Ghibli (normal, the man is a defector of the studio and works regularly with the entity of Hayao Miyazaki), but they are not put forward in the same way. And inevitably, when one is a fan, this reality is important …
More action, less talk
It’s a fact, the austerity of the first episode – both in its redundancy and lacks punches – has put off a lot of players and Level-5 has acted for this suite to reach the greatest number. Doubtless to the chagrin of real fans of J-RPG, Ni no Kuni II is very dynamic, very focused on the action and remains, on almost all of his adventure, a disconcerting ease.
Very general public in mind, the initial formula turn-based disappeared in favor of a real-time action whose base is based on three main gameplay: the classic fights, the mode “kingdom”, based on the management of his city, and finally the “skirmish” mode, reminiscent of old-fashioned strategy games (STR).
These elements, which we invite you to discover in more detail in the Anagund test, participate in the structure of Ni no Kuni II. Even if the trend of tactical menus fades, there are still fervent defenders of old-fashioned gameplay in the J-RPG.
In this sense, the advent of a New Kingdom is primarily for new players and role-playing fans who are not afraid to break their habits. Those of the first episode will also have a time of adaptation, as the approach is far removed from the magical escapades of Oliver and Lumi.
Between fantasy and reality
However, Ni no Kuni II is not as far from his eldest as one might think. As we know, Ghibli loves to play with the imaginary worlds and Ni no Kuni II does not break this rule. Oliver spent most of his time in a fantastic universe and we find this notion in Evan’s adventure.
Thus, Roland, represented as a young adult, is in truth a man of mature age – president of his state in the contemporary world – who finds himself catapulted into a dimension parallel to earthly life. Exploiting this imagination, the character designer Yoshiyuki Momose has had a great pleasure in designing multi-faceted protagonists.
Sometimes tiny, sometimes gigantic, these creatures and characters are even more inspired than they were in the first episode and it is amusing to discover how Evan, during his initiatory journey, adapts to the mentalities and customs of every player. The events are better brought than in the past and this is a point on which the fans of Ni no Kuni first of the name can rely.