Ni No Kuni 2 – Part 2

I think I’m most of the way through now.  The game is based on uniting 5 kingdoms, and I’m on the last one now.  Then there’s the final boss, as per RPG custom.  My thoughts on the game have changed a bit since.

JRPG

I prefer this model to the western one – specifically in relation to the tropes that are used.  Guess it’s just since I’ve seen so much of it.  Always seems more imaginative than something set in the D&D universe.  NNK2 has the fantasy setting, but the core storyline doesn’t really work in a JRPG setting.  There are no set backs here, no loss beyond the first 5 minutes of story.  The 5 kingdoms are supposed to be tragic… but the lack of character development (you only see them as bad, until they are not) makes it jarring.

Kingdom Builder

Neat in concept, as it passively boosts all activities.  Tedious in practice, since you are not only time gated, but also power gated as well.  You need 25/50/100 citizens to upgrade.  Or a citizen with a specific attribute (that you have no way of pro-actively finding) to get a specific boost.  Getting to 50 citizens was not possible until after the 4th kingdom, and 100 will not be possible until after the 5th.  Why?  The boosts are negligible as compared to simply leveling in the world and acquiring loot drops.  They either help with side quests, or allow for more Higgildy boosts (which are also optional).

Side Quests

There are 3 types.  Deliver a specific item that’s either a common or rare drop.  Kill a tainted monster.  Win this skirmish.  The last 2 are fun and active.  Tainted monsters are always a blast to take down, mini boss attacks and all.

The delivery quests I could do without.  Having to sail the seas to find a random spot and hope it’s the right fish (assuming I know that’s where it can be) is insanely tedious.  And this rare delivery feels like half of the side quests.  That it further gates the Kingdom Builder aspect is even less fun.

Power Curve

Levels dominate everything.  It feels like there’s a bell curve that says anything 5+ above you is going to squash you.  When you reach that level, assuming your gear is the same (likely, as there are only 6 tiers of gear) you will then feel like a god.  For no statistical reason other than level.  Which is sort of ok, given the JRPG numbers.  Still feels odd in 2018.

Active Combat

I like this part.  Blocking, dodging, timing special attacks for knockdowns.  The bosses are all fun to take on.  Teammate AI isn’t ultra-dumb either.  Understanding enemy tells is really important, especially if there’s a level gap.  For 90% of all battles, it’s a “press Y” affair for heavy attack combos.  Sometimes it changes, like the Kingsmaker battles.  Broadleaf in particular was more like God of War than NNK.

The real fun is taking on a red-level tainted monster.  The tough ones can take you out in 3-4 hits, making for a great challenge.  I don’t mind restarting these battles a dozen times, since the feeling of victory is all the sweeter.

Current Taste

I’m still enjoying the game, just that the good and the bad are taking larger swings in either direction.  I find myself spend more time swapping between activities, rather than focusing on one.  That seems to be the underlying purpose.. that running a kingdom means doing a ton of things at once, good and bad.

My biggest thorn is the kingdom builder aspect.  Perhaps I’m burned out on WoW’s garrisons, or all the other time-gated junk we see around us.  I’d much rather be able to progress my kingdom based on in-game activities/achievements, rather than an artificial clock.  The rest would likely click into place just fine.

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