Review: Ni No Kuni 2

Opening with the destruction of President Roland’s country and the betrayal of Mausinger, Ni No Kuni 2 has players following the young King Evan as he attempts to unite the world.  As the story progresses Evan meets other people that want to help him with goal joining him as members of his party.  His end goal is a world where everyone will live happily ever after.  His ambitions quickly put him at odds with Doloran a mysterious figure that is manipulating the hearts of the leaders.

Portrayed in chapters with narration, the story is a simple fairy tale with a commonly occurring theme about how even the purest desires can easily become corrupted.  In each kingdom Evan has to help a leader that has seen their desires twisted, in Goldpaw for example, Pugnacious wanted to make his kingdom more prosperous.  Doloran corrupted this desire causing him to tax his citizens into poverty making everyone miserable, which allowed him to steal Pugnacious’ bond with his kingmaker.  A kingmaker being a mystical beast that grants the one that successfully performs the kingsbond with them the right to rule.  There are some cliches, some players will roll their eyes at the wordplay and puns, such as having the leader of Goldpaw be a pug named Pugnacious.  That being said the story doesn’t really do anything that could be considered wrong.

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The gameplay is broken up into three core elements, the real-time battle system, the skirmish system and kingdom development.  Combat being the main way that the story progresses sees player controlling one of the six party members:  Evan, Roland, Banu, Tani, Leander and Bracken.  There are also two AI controlled party members, kingmaker and up to four groups of higgledies.  A higgledy being a type of elemental prevalent in the world.  Once the party is formed player will use a combination of melee attacks, ranged attacks, special skills, blocks and dodges to be successful in combat.  Combat can also be augmented via the tactical tweaker which lets you change your resistance to statuses and elements, how much damage you to enemy types, or increasing general combat abilities on the fly.  While other games have had similar combat systems, the tactical tweaker is what sets this game apart.

Skirmishes are a pseudo-tactical battle system which takes places on the overworld map.  It basically breaks down to an over-glorified game of rock paper scissors with swords beating hammers, hammers beating spears and spears beating swords.  There are also various ranged units and shield units which while not dealing much damage are great frontline defenders.  Each army has might, which is lost by enemies when forces are destroyed and spent by Evan to replenish lost units.  Might is restored via pickups on the battlefield or controlling command tents, if Evan’s might reaches zero and he loses all units then the battle is lost.  Overall the skirmish system is an ok addition which has some story relevance but is mostly used during side quests.

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