If your kids enjoy colorful anime-style cartoons (like Little Witch Academia or Kiki's Delivery Service), they'll love the visual feast that Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom presents. But don't be fooled by its anime aesthetic — this role-playing game takes a lot of time and effort to master.
If you’ve found yourself browsing PS4 games at your local GameStop, looking for a cartoonish, fun game for your kiddos, you may have stumbled upon Ni no Kuni 2. While this lush adventure is rated T for fantasy violence, it offers quite a bit of enjoyable gameplay for smaller children, too. (Just make sure you sit down and play with them, especially if they’re not all that comfortable with reading yet.)
What is it?
Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is a Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) that follows the trials of Evan Pettiwhisker of House Tildrum after his kingdom, Ding Dong Dell, is usurped by his late father’s evil chancellor, Mausinger. Evan is joined by Roland, who appears to be the president of his country in a world very similar to ours. Along the way, Evan and Roland make friends with the denizens of their world and establish a new kingdom, Evermore.
Ni no Kuni 2 isn’t a straight up hack and slash kind of game, although there’s quite a bit of that throughout the game. Instead, this game is a combo of grand strategy elements, where players command a small army to victory during skirmishes, and kingdom management simulation, in which buildings must be constructed, personnel must be assigned to suitable tasks, and resources (like money and supplies) need to be monitored on a regular basis.
How hard is it?
The various elements of the game — combat, character management, puzzles, grand strategy, kingdom management — are fairly approachable for an older child (10 or older) to grasp on their own. There’s definitely a lot to remember with Ni no Kuni 2, especially with kingdom management. Thankfully, with Roland acting as Evermore’s adviser, players can call upon his help at any time for refreshers and advice.
Ni no Kuni 2’s combat is really simple, especially in terms of button presses. Players can opt to use special skills with any of the characters they decide to play as, but they don’t have to. They can roll around and trigger the cute little sprites that follow Evan around from battle to battle. These little adorable creatures are called higgledies, and they’re probably my favorite piece of the game.
Skirmishes (low-key grand strategy) in Ni no Kuni 2 require a little bit of planning, but it’s not nearly as intimidating as a more complex strategy game like Total War. Players need to rotate their armies around Evan using the PS4 controller’s bumpers (the topmost buttons on either side of the controller) so that they’ll hit the right battalions of soldiers during the skirmish.
It’s rated T for Teen — is it appropriate for kids?
In terms of the content, yes, this game is appropriate for younger kids, too. If your kids have played Survival Mode in Minecraft, you’re getting about the same level of violence in Ni no Kuni 2. There’s no blood. There are no telltale signs of the aftermath of violence. Enemies disappear after you’ve defeated them, leaving treasure behind to pick up, mostly comprised of gear, items and guilders (Ni no Kuni’s currency).
If you’ve sat down and watched Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away or Howl’s Moving Castle with your kids, they’ll likely have seen much scarier things in those movies than they’ll see in Ni no Kuni 2. But while the content is kid-friendly, the game itself is a bit more nuanced. As previously mentioned, the game is quite complex. It asks a lot of the player in terms of memorization, but no more so than, say, Secret Of Mana asked of me when I was a wee sprite. If your kids get stuck, there is this handy guide that you can buy them. (And also, the internet.)
If I get this game for my kid, can they play it alone or will they need my help?
A smaller child will absolutely need that extra time with you in order to feel comfortable in the game’s complex environment. At least, at first they will. Children have the ability to soak up information with alacrity, so what may feel like overly complex systems to you may not be all that daunting to them.
The exception to this is children who can’t read or struggle with reading, as there is a lot of reading throughout the game. Ni no Kuni 2’s cinematic scenes are fully voiced, so reading subtitles won’t be necessary, but that isn’t the case with incidental conversations throughout the world. They’re only partially voiced (and that’s more for flavor than for anything useful).
Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is family-friendly
While Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom doesn’t have a multiplayer component, it’s the kind of game that is just as delightful to watch (and swap controllers) as it is to play on one’s own. Ni no Kuni’s music, in both the PS3 and PS4 games, is some of the most exquisite that I’ve heard in a Japanese RPG in a long, long time. It’s an evocative throwback to Secret Of Mana, Final Fantasy 4 and Chrono Trigger. (It’ll tickle the nostalgia bone for any gaming parent that spent their formative years in the ‘90s playing Nintendo’s greatest RPGs, that’s for sure.)
It takes about 10 hours to really get going, as is the case with many Japanese RPGs, but has the potential to last upwards of 60 hours, if you really take your time. If you’re looking for something that’s bright and colorful, but will give your kids a varied and dynamic experience (as opposed to the potential homogeneity of Fortnite or Minecraft), then Ni no Kuni 2 is a great game to explore together.