First, some good news for PC owners. Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is coming to Windows PC as well as PlayStation 4 when it's released later this year. All platform versions will be launched simultaneously around the world.
Publisher Bandai Namco made the announcement at a press event in San Francisco yesterday, where a short gameplay section was shown.
Here's what we learned. First, the sequel to 2013's sublime Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch has a slightly different look this time. The first game was also heavily inspired by Studio Ghibli, which also provided fantastic cutscene animations. The sequel's overworld is less cartoonish and more realistic than its predecessor, though still with a heavy fantasy element.
Characters and Plot
When the game was first shown last year, we got a sense that it would be the story of a young man seeking to claim his rightful crown. Now we know that central character Evan was a king, who was deposed by his people. He'd been crowned at a young age after the death of his father. Unfortunately, his subjects thought him too nice for the job, and gave him the elbow.
Evan is joined by Roland, a middle-aged leader from the real world who is transported to this fantasy realm (“ni no kuni” translates to “another world” in Japanese) and transformed into a young man. His role is to mentor Evan and show him how to be a leader.
Tani is the orphan daughter of a rough pirate. She's described by Bandai Namco as "a tomboy” who is struggling with her identity.
Also along for the ride are tiny spirit creatures called Higgledies, who add charm to the story as well as useful combat abilities, when needed.
Combat is in real time with players able to switch between characters. Tani is good with ranged weapons while Roland is your man for melee attacks. Evan is the better balanced fighter. They all have special attacks.
We were only shown these three party members in action, but Ni No Kuni is all about meeting new characters and learning from them, so we expect to learn more about companions along the way.
The Higgledies are also used in combat, with different spirits wielding special moves that can be used against bigger enemies. We saw one fight against a Yeti-like creature, in which the Higgledies were put to good use, while the main party members dodged timed attacks.
Exploration takes place in an overhead-view. free-roaming overmap as well as in a third-person view in which smaller combat encounters take place. Developer Level-5 says loading times between encounters and environments have been drastically reduced since the first game's release on the PlayStation 3.
Ni No Kuni 2 takes place in the same world as the original, but it's altered from the first game. There are locations with familiar names, like Ding Dong Dell, but even though they are thematically similar, they are not the same as before. It's not clear if this change will be explained in the story.
We'll have more on Ni No Kuni 2 in the months ahead.