I’m a pretty big fan of JRPGs and I did enjoy Ni no Kuni when it came out on the PS3. It wasn’t an amazing game but the art direction and live Studio Ghibli anime look it had going was fantastic.

So it was pretty much a no brainer that I’d pick up and play the sequel eventually.

I’m also a huge fan of the Genso Suikoden series. Suikoden II especially is one of the best PS1 RPGs and best games ever made.

Not only did I very much enjoy Ni no Kuni 2 but the best way I think I have to describe it would be to say that it’s my favorite Suikoden game.

Suikoden games are known for having a war-themed plot where you recruit an army of 108 different characters to populate a special little castle town that grows over the course of the game and as you recruit more people. Ni no Kuni 2 has pretty much this same mechanic only it’s a lot more fleshed out and complicated than any Suikoden game. Ni no Kuni 2 also has real time strategy battles where your armies face off against enemy armies and they’re actually kind of fun.

Overall it feels like a fantastic spiritual successor to the Suikoden games which is great since Konami has kind of given up on making any more of them.


Your team of playable characters in Ni no Kuni 2

The Story

This game has probably the most bizarre opening I’ve ever seen. Better than trying to explain it I’ll just drop the video below. It’s literally the first minute of the game after starting it up so it’s not really spoiling anything.

So basically right after the nuke goes off, President of the United States Roland Crane finds himself in the kingdoms of Ding Dong Dell in the middle of a coup attempt. He successfully defends the young prince Evan from the evil Mousinger and the two of them escape the city.

After their escape prince Evan basically decides he wants to build a kingdom “Where everyone can live happily ever after.” It’s a bit childish but he’s a kid so what are you going to do?

Roland I guess assumes he’s dead and stuck here so he decides to go along and help the prince.

After a bit of exploration and quests you establish your new kingdom in an empty field and start working on recruiting people from around the world to join your cause.

The overall story involves getting the 5 different kingdoms of the world to sign your treaty to get everyone working together.

Each chapter of the game from this point out is to get each kingdom one by one to join you. Each kingdom has it’s own problem and the chapter revolves around solving their problem which ends with them joining you.

These kingdom stories are actually pretty interesting and have a few fairly bizarre twists that you definitely won’t see coming.

While you’re trying to get each kingdom to join you the antagonist is going around stealing their kingdom powers in an attempt to revive an ancient evil.

Once you have all the kingdoms united you all have to team up to defeat this evil once and for all.

Overall nothing super amazing happens with this plot but it works, it’s fun and it keeps things moving throughout the course of the game.

I guess my only real complaint with the plot is that the characters who join your party are kind of boring. I always played as Roland since he was the most interesting. I always had Evan in my party since he had the best magic but other than that my third character never really mattered to me much.


Fighting a giant sandworm

The General Gameplay

You progress through a world map with dungeons, towns, sidequests and everything else you’d expect from a JRPG.

Combat is in real time and is not bad. It’s not as precise as something like a Dark Souls game but it works decently well. You encounter enemies as you walk around dungeons and fight them right there.

You’ve got a mixture of light and strong attacks, you can dodge, block and use various skills.

You can also recruit little creatures called Higgledies that fight with you. This part isn’t explained super well but they have their own little skills you can trigger at certain times and you can also absorb them to power up your own skills.

I know a lot of people complained about Ni no Kuni 2 switching to this real time battle system but I’d say it’s a huge improvement over the first game.

The only thing I felt was kind of weird is that you can equip 3 weapons at once and swap between them at any time. You build up a little “Zinger” gauge on each one and when it’s 100% you can use a powered up version of your skills. So you can charge them all up to 100% use a skill, quickly switch to another weapon, use the skill again, etc.

It’s kind of weird and I think the same thing could have been accomplished with just a single weapon.

Having three weapons at once makes the weapons you find a little less special.


The Ni no Kuni 2 World Map

The World Map

I have to make a little section here to talk about the world map because this is easily the best version of a world map I’ve seen in any JRPG.

I’ve always thought that the old style map you’d find in old PS1 RPGs wouldn’t ever really work in today’s day and age but Ni no Kuni 2 definitely proved me wrong.

The world map looks absolutely beautiful. You run along it as little stylized chibi versions of your characters that fit the look great.

Later you unlock a boat and later an airship like you’d expect.

The map itself is full of collectables to pick up, chests to find, hidden dungeons and locations, enemy encounters and strategy battles.

I’ve never really been that much of a fan of world maps like this but Ni no Kuni 2 does it so well that I think I’ve changed my mind. Exploring the map in this game was a ton of fun.


Building up your kingdom

The Kingdom Building Mechanic

The whole plot of the game revolves around your kingdom of Evermore. You start out with your level 1 kingdom and slowly start building more buildings and recruiting more people to level it up.

You can build buildings that gather crafting resources such as mines or farms and you can build other buildings like an item shop, armor store, weapon store and a bunch of other interesting buildings that can do research.

The people you recruit all have their own unique skills and can be assigned to work in each of the buildings you make.

Everything progresses in real time which is something I wasn’t a huge fan of since it kind of felt almost like a mobile game. Fortunately there are no micro transactions or any of that kind of nonsense.

As time progresses your kingdom generates money that can be used to build more buildings, upgrade existing buildings or research things.

Your crafting buildings will also gather various resources and crafting items that you can collect at any time too as they build up.

Many buildings will let you research various upgrades that help out in the game as well.

For example your Armor and Weapon stores can research higher level weapons and armor or you can build a barracks which lets you research things like EXP boosts for your non-active party members and all kinds of different things like that.

This kingdom building side mini-game thing gets really complicated near the end with all the options you have but it builds up to that slowly and you get the hang of everything as you go.

Like I said before, it’s like Suikoden’s army recruitment and base building but expanded a lot and much better than anything those games have done.


Strategy battle

So Many Other Systems

I also have to mention how many other crazy systems this game has.

There’s a whole real-time strategy aspect where the armies of your kingdom will fight other kingdoms, bandits or monsters in real time strategy battles.

You go into battle with a team of 4 different squads who might be melee fighters with swords who are strong against spear users or you might have a squad or mages using ranged magic spells.

You have to move your squads around so the enemies that are strong against what you’re fighting are in right position while protecting weaker or ranged groups. You also have skills you can use, buildings you can capture and overall it’s quite a fun little diversion from the main game.

There’s also a complex magic system where you can research and upgrade your spells for each character.

Those Higgledies that you collect and that join you in battle can also be recruited, leveled up and customized as well.

Weapons can be crafted, upgraded and customized too.

There’s a whole series of “Dimensional Mazes” which are essentially randomly generated dungeons that increase in difficulty the longer you stay inside and deeper you go.

I’m probably missing some other mini game or something that I can’t quite remember because there are so many different systems interacting with each other in this game. I definitely think it’s a great thing too.

And of course the DLC adds even more like a giant randomly generated labyrinth with something like 100 floors, another whole customizable skill system that completely changes how you use your existing skills and more quests and things to do.


Jelly Queen boss fight

The Graphics

The graphics look fantastic. The game still has the same Studio Ghibli anime aesthetic from the first game except since we’re a generation later everything looks a lot better. The environments look a lot more normal and somehow don’t clash with the anime characters.

The environments themselves look beautiful as well.

I played this on PC and was able to get 4k 60fps on my RTX 2070 no problem.


Fighting a giant snow monster

Sound and Music.

One complaint I do have is with the lack of voice acting. I guess this game didn’t have quite the budget the first game did because there’s barely any voice acting. It’s pretty much just in the major cutscenes.

Every other time characters are talking it’s just text with them maybe saying one word or making a noise like a sigh or something.

This is really too bad because all the characters have fantastic voice acting and they all have European accents which makes things more fun and fairy tale-like I think.

The music is also very excellent and feels like it would be something you’d hear in a movie adaptation of a story like this. It’s all orchestrated and fantastic.


Cutscene screenshot

In Conclusion

If you’re at all a fan of JRPGs but especially if you’re a fan of the Suikoden series then you need to play this game.

Some people have complained about the difficulty but they’ve since added Hard and Expert difficulties to the game to fix that. Many people recommend you play on Hard. I played on normal and found the game nice and chill.

There were still optional bosses and challenges that were quite difficult but I enjoyed the difficulty of the rest of the game. It’s not crazy easy but it’s also definitely not hard.

It’s hard to estimate how much time I put into this game because when I wasn’t playing and I was nearby I’d leave the game running so my kingdom would collect money, items and research things. So because of that my play time is massively inflated but I’d probably estimate I put in around 60-80 hours to complete the main game as well as pretty much every side quest, fully max out my kingdom and finish almost all the DLC content.

Basically I highly recommend this game and you should check it out. I believe the Princes Edition that includes all the DLC is available on pretty much every platform now. Check out the trailer below:

Screenshots are from the Ni no Kuni 2 page on Steam used under Fair Use