Ni No Kuni II is all about growing up. It’s a concept that is mostly familiar to all of us. Whether we’re adults or kids we’ve all been in those situations that we haven’t felt prepared for, situations that have forced to adapt and mature.

Ni No Kuni II filters this through a coming of age story about a young boy who becomes King far before he’s ready. He’s wholly unprepared to rule when his father dies and the Kingdom passes to him. Shortly after, he’s overthrown in a coup and must embark on a journey to win back his throne.

These are heavy themes wrapped in some colourful, outright gorgeous animations. Studio Ghibli may not be working on this sequel, but their presence is still strong.

Combat has been completely re-worked for Ni No Kuni II. Level 5 have switched up from the hybrid real time combat with menu’s to issue commands to your followers to a fully real time combat system:

“It’s full action combat. Evan has a lot of different attacks at his disposal. He’s got different short ranged attacks, he can do combos, he has a wand for long range attacks. He can also use special skills [which] are all different kinds of magic effects.”

It’s a faster-paced combat system than fans of the first game will be used to. While you can’t pause and issue commands to your party members, you can take control of them throughout the course of battle, switching on the fly to take advantage of their different strengths.

Familiars are also gone. They’ve been replaced by Higgledy’s – groups of tiny, adorable characters who swarm around the battlefield attacking enemies and offering Evan buffs and power-ups during combat.

At certain points during a fight a white circle will appear around a group of Higgledy’s – this allows players to issue them commands. These commands can heal Evan or other party members, offer increased damage or defence and even make Evan immune to elemental damage.

Higgledy’s can also increase the effectiveness of Evan’s skills. By charging your skills the Higgledy’s that are closest to Evan will actually augment your skills:

“If you have a water ball attack and then you have the fire Higgledy’s jump in and augment it, then you’ll do a fire/water ball attack.”

Taking back your Kingdom will take more than sprite-like cuties and an emotional backstory. Evan needs to prove himself worthy of becoming King again. Once he’s done that, though, there’s still a long way to go:

“Evan now has no Kingdom to rule over. First he has to earn the right to become a leader of a Kingdom again. But then, after that, he ends up having to build a Kingdom.

That’s where everything converges together, where Evan needs to build a Kingdom. And so he needs to go to all the different Kingdoms and talk to other characters and people in the world and recruit them to come into his Kingdom. The player gets to build their own Kingdom and customise it. You can task different townspeople to different tasks in your Kingdom to build it up. You have full control over how you’re customising that Kingdom.”

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom launches on PC and Playstation 4 on November 10, 2017.

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