Ni Nu Kuni 2: The game that forces you to build a kingdom; destroying potential fun, battle advancement and ultimately blocks you off from the story!
Ni Nu kuni 2 on the outside going in, looks like a Hayao Miyazaki film. This at first, will most definitely draw you into its world, its kingdom, its characters and story. And of course, why not? It’s the sequel to the first Ni Nu Kuni; a collaboration between Level 5 and Studio Ghibli. But, that is its initial deception, a deception that blinds you from its many faults.
Presentation/Graphics: Losing the Studio Ghibli Collaboration, hurt the presentation.
Unlike the first Ni Nu Kuni, only a couple of people from Studio Ghibli, worked on this sequel. So, while the game looks beautiful and its world and cities are designed well; you will start to notice that something feels off
. The beautiful watercolor-like designs/textures of the first game are absent and replaced with bland looking textures that make the towns and locations feel unfinished. Rather than the cell-shaded characters naturally being a part of their backgrounds, like a real Studio Ghibli film, the cell-shaded character models actually look out of place against the muddy textures you’ll find, in the various locals. I guess that’s what happens when you lose the collaboration between Studio Ghibli and try to reproduce their art direction without them.
Story: A story written for a child
Evan, a would be king, goes on an adventure to unite the various Kingdoms around him. His main goal is to create a world united and without war. That’s basically it. And worst of all, none of the party members besides Evan and Roland have any back story/exposition. But, that’s not saying much because Evan and Roland have a very minute amount of back story. And as a result: over the course of the game, they dont overcome any weaknesses or grow/develop as characters.
There is even one laughable story segment that tried to be incredibly serious. It’s presented to the player as some kind of big reveal involving Roland, which I saw right through! It was so pathetically predictable and failed to carry and weight, due to the childish writing.
Also, the self-contained stories within the kingdoms themselves, are very basic and banal. It’s Saturday morning cartoon level. For example: a queen in one kingdom is oppressing and restricting her people’s freedom by spying on them, with an all seeing eye. Or, a Bill Gates-like character called Zip, is working his people to death, within his corporation/nation, creating the ultimate technology and you must put a stop to him. It really doesn’t delve very deep. You just stop an oppressive person and make them come to their senses; turning their kingdom back to normal so they can sign your declaration. Rinse and repeat.
The story also had no deeper meaning or revelations. Basically, a story made for kids. So, people of older ages won’t get anything out of it. If your 10 year old kid is playing it, hell have fun I guess. Other than that, anyone past their teenage years should stay away!
Battle System: It took me 10 hours of kingdom building to get a new spell.
Aside from the kingdom building the battle system is one of the most important things in this game. Hell, you’ll be spending most of your time fighting!
And well, this is an action rpg and at first, the battle system feels fast and fun. Notice how I didn’t put an exclamation mark at the end of that
Anyway, each character has both a strong attack and a weak attack. You are even given a new mechanic that you can lvl up in the menu called the Tactic Tweaker. This lets you control sliders that will give you certain perks like: resistance against magic, dealing more damage against a certain enemy type, having a stronger defense, offense etc. That’s all well and fine. Now, aside from this, you are able to perform magic. This is where the battle system becomes incredibly stale if you haven’t leveled up your kingdom.
In order to learn new magic you have to build the Evermore Spellworks building, within your kingdom. This allows you to level up and unlock new spells. Unfortunately, you have to juggle the Spellwroks against your other facilities. Facilities that aside from magic, give you certain perks, materials or allow you to make weapons and armor. And because of this juggling, I was always lacking for gold.
And on the topic of gold, there are two forms of currency in the game: regular gold used to buy things like: weapons, armor, and items and kingdom currency called Kingsguilders, used to build and advance your kingdom.
After having used regular money to restock my healing items, crafted, improved or bought a few new weapons and armor, I had little money left for spells. Not to mention, in order to unlock the more advanced spells I would have to spend hours leveling up the Spellworks building. So, I was always stuck using the same boring spells and spamming the same boring attacks.
In the end, the battle systems advancement relies heavily on how much you advance your kingdom. I think it should have been a separate system from the kingdom building. This game should have taken notes from YS 8: Lacrimosa of DANA, an awesome action rpg! But, I digress.
Kingdom Building: You will reach a point where you are forced to get 50 citizens or you cant proceed to the end of the game!
So, here is where I go into a little more detail involving the games main attraction: kingdom building. Without boring you with excessive details, you build various facilities to help out with the creation and advancement of such things as: weapons, armor, magic and material gathering. These are only a few of the buildings you will make. Like I mentioned before, the kingdom even has its own currency which you will use in all aspects of its creation.
Now, you absolutely need citizens to inhabit and manage your kingdom. This means you are forced to do sidequests! These sidequests haven’t improved much from the first game, as they are basically MMORG style fetch quests that consist of: delivering an item, giving an item, participating in a skirmish, or killing a strong monster. They are incredibly boring and add little personally or charm to the overall story. Their sole purpose is to recruit citizens for your kingdom.
Mind you, I was fine with playing the game at a reasonable pace and collecting a few citizens here and there, doing a few quests and advancing the main storyline, until I had about 30 citizens. I even got my kingdom to level 2. It seemed to me I had done enough. I just wanted to continue on to the end of the game. Not possible! I reached a road block at the end of the game where I was told I needed 50 citizens and a kingdom of level 3 to proceed!! I lost all desire to acquire these 20 citizens and didn’t feel like spending another 10 to 15 hours doing menial tasks and leveling up to acquire them. Why couldn’t I just proceed to the end of the game with my current state of affairs?!
This is where I quit the game!..
In conclusion, the kingdom building sucked the life out of all other aspects of this game. The battle system advances at a snails pace, the story doesn’t motivate you or captivate your curiosity and worst of all: at the end of the game if you haven’t done 50+ sidequests you hit a brick wall and cant advance to the end! A game that actually forces you to do sidequests. Sidequests that are devoid of fun or substance. The sad thing is: I did spend time on my kingdom, but not an excessive amount, just enough to get what I wanted out of it and in the end was unfortunately punished by the game itself!
-Graphics while not as immersive as the first game or a Studio Gibli film for that matter, are decent.
-The games music fits the locations and setting.
-Battle system is fun for a short while until you realize you’re using the same spells over and over again.
-The story was written for children and lacks depth and character development.
-The Kingdom Building forces you to do at least 50+ sidequest or you can’t move on to the end of the game.
-The battle system is entirely reliant on the Kingdom building and new spells are learned at a snails pace, making the system repetitive and boring.
Final Rating: 6