Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is almost upon us!

Full disclosure: Bandai Namco Entertainment invited us to a preview event which included an overnight stay at the beautiful Hever Castle.

The critically acclaimed Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch hit the west in 2013, offering players the chance to experience the wonders of Studio Ghibli in game form, the result of which was a truly heart-warming tale that resonated with many. This makes its sequel one of the most anticipated titles of 2018. Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is set hundreds of years after the White Witch and is heading to PS4 and PC. After spending a few hours with the game, it looks like it’s living up to the hype.

Revenant Kingdom follows the story of Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum, a boy king who must reclaim his lost kingdom. The preview started with Evan and his gang of friends partway through Chapter 3 as they enter Goldpaw, a city that relies on luck for their entire way of life. Unsurprisingly, those in power can’t help but manipulate the system to increase their own wealth and power, so it falls to you to investigate the corruption.

Exploring Goldpaw was a wonderful experience, from the cel-shaded graphics to taking the time to listen to Joe Hisashi’s joyous soundtrack. The city is filled with useful items for you to collect, NPCs to talk to and breath-taking views to take in. The exploration wasn’t entirely smooth though, as there were some frame-rate dips during my playthrough, but hopefully that’ll be fixed when the game is released.

The enchanting graphics aren’t the only thing to get excited about, this outing has some new elements up its sleeve. One of them is Kingdom Mode where you’ll be able to help Evan build up his kingdom, allowing you to gain citizens and shops to aid you on your adventure. There’s also the real-time strategy Skirmish Mode, where you send cute, chibi troops out to battle with a rock-scissors-paper type mechanic.

Perhaps the biggest change of all is the battle system. A major aspect of the previous game was collecting and levelling up familiars – a fun, although rather convoluted system. In Revenant Kingdom, combat is a different beast. It’s a fast action-RPG that allows you to switch between any of your party members at any time. Perhaps you misjudged the distance between Evan and a boulder being thrown his way? As poor Evan recovers from the blow, instantly switch over to Tani and make up for your mistake.

The freedom you have during each battle feels great and looks spectacular on the screen. If you were a fan of the familiars, don’t worry. Ni no Kuni II has new cute creatures to help you in battle, Higgledies. These cute critters are different colours and will be seemingly running around the battle screen aimlessly, until they all get together and start glowing. That’s your cue to head over to them and activate their abilities. It all works incredibly well and makes for an enjoyable experience. Will it be able to remain interesting for the entire game? You can find out next month.

Having the opportunity to play a few hours of Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom was an incredible experience, the amount of love and passion that has gone into the game is staggering and it shows right down to the tiniest of details. However, the wait for March 23rd feels even more painful now!