At E3 Expo 2017, Ni no Kuni II Revenant Kingdom was full of surprises. First, was that there was a sequel, to begin with here in the West.  I know the first game was a critical success, but I do not believe it broke sales records in North America.  Second, was the vastly different mechanics that are being used.  Third, is that it is coming out this holiday season.

One thing that was not a surprise – Ni no Kuni II Revenant Kingdom is a beautiful game.  The Studio Ghibli-like art style that LEVEL-5 continues with this sequel just takes your breath away.  The animations – from the humanoid main characters to the higgledies in your party to the enemies – are amazing to watch.  But, you won’t be watching them long as once the battles commence, you better be bringing your kingmaker A-game.

As Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum, exiled King of Ding Dong Dell, it is your job to find your kingmaker, win the adoration of your subjects, and take your rightful place on the throne.  Of course, that isn’t easy, and you can’t do it alone.  You’ll meet new friends like Roland and Tani, as well as acquire new allies in the form of the higgledies.  While I’m not a big fan of the name, I love these little guys.  It’s interesting to see LEVEL-5 going from a “Pokemon-like” system of the first Ni no Kuni to the more “Pikmin-esque” higgledies combat system.  I asked what prompted them to move away from the first game’s mechanics and they said that the “collect-them-all” system has become too congested.  They would rather move into doing something fresh and exciting rather than compete in a war of escalation with what everyone else is doing.

That is very evident in the combat as you have both your own attacks and combat skills, whilst watching the higgledies for their cues to enhance your abilities.  At points during the battle, the higgledies – who form separate groups during combat – can get excited and put on-screen prompts up to notify you that you can take advantage of the situation.  The green higgledies can heal, the blue higgledies may throw an ice attack and the red higgledies may provide a fire barrier to protect you from enemy fire (literally).  This made the combat in both scenarios I played feel fresh and challenging, which, during a long JRPG is paramount.

Ni no Kuni II Revenant Kingdom Preview Final Thoughts:

Overall, I believe in the fall, Ni no Kuni II Revenant Kingdom is going to be both a commercial and a critical success.  On top of its eastern design roots, is a western design sensibility that is lacking from many games.  While that is not necessarily a problem for me to overcome, the new feeling ofNi no Kuni II Revenant Kingdom should allow for a wider audience, and ultimately, create more revenue, garner more fans, and delight people across the world.  It is a beautiful game and is coming out on November 10, 2017.