Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is the sort of game that can be more thoughtful than you expect. Someone might look at initial videos and could assume that it is primarily about active battles where you alternate between standard, special and ranged attacks. While there is definitely that element, there is also much more to it. In many ways, the game runs with the idea that we are controlling a young king and uses it to its advantage, offering systems that have us influencing our party’s tactics in various situations, directing minions in battles and taking part in actual strategic encounters as a commander.
The Tactic Tweaker is one of the most thoughtful gameplay elements in Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom. As you participate in battles, you eventually gain Battle Points. You can then go into the Tactics Tweaker to pop those points into four categories: Arts of War, Elements and Ailments, Monster Affinities and Spoils Settings. By leveling up each specific area, you get points you can pop in to impact various parts of battle. So in Spoils Settings, you can pump points into pairs. So you could add to the experience and money side, to make your group get more money and experience after each fight. If you choose to level up the bar on the far right, you can increase the money and equipment you get.
Monster Affinities lets you add Battle Points to determine if you are stronger against certain types of monsters, with the level determining how many you can assign. So if are in an area with a lot of gooey, slimy creatures, you could veer the slider to be stronger against them and not against solid creatures. If dragons are around, sacrifice strength against natural creatures to be better against them. Elements and Ailments works similarly, except with the slider letting you choose to increase resistance to an element or status effect based on how many points are invested. And Arts of War lets you do things like increase close range attack power, temporary invincibility when dodging or even escaping speed. Since some of these can be altered at any time, you can change your tactics to suit the current situation or party. It’s incredibly accommodating and strategic at the same time.
Also consider the Higgledies. Since there are no familiars here, these are the little guys who end up fighting alongside you in battle. They are great, and I am not just saying that since they have names like Runcible the Righteous. You can have four groups of Higgledies with you, provided they come in under your cost. They have both automatic abilities and ones that you trigger by running up to a group and pressing X when they have a circle under them in a battle. You level them up by building up your kingdom. And real success comes from having a good balance of characters with abilities that can damage enemies and both protect and heal allies. It makes you feel like you are in control, even though they act largely on your own, because you choose which units are deployed, which ones are leveled and occasionally when they act. Even the recruitment process, which involves offering certain food at a den, means you get a buddy based on what you offer. It means keeping track of what you are doing, what the Higgledies are doing and how you can maximize your efforts.
The forces you guide in the Skirmish modes offer the similar sort of direction. In these battles, Evan has up to four groups of warriors with him, with a weapon triangle determining which units are effective or weak against others. These folks fight automatically, but you still have some control over the situation. By pressing trigger buttons, you can rotate them around Evan to determine which units they engage or place them. You can use power to call up new units when some of yours fall. You can also direct them to use special attacks or essentially be temporarily supercharged. It is in these fights that it can really feel like Evan is a commander and king, because he is in the center of everything, but not directly participating. It is a more thoughtful experience.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is offering many of these opportunities. We are often given control over different elements. We can control our party’s rewards, effectiveness, resistances and particular strengths. It is possible to occasionally have Higgledies launch special attacks and choose which units to invest in. We even get real-time strategy matches where we can direct multiple troops. It might all just make someone feel like a king.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom will come to the PlayStation 4 and PC on March 23, 2018.