Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom was shown off at this year's E3 in Los Angeles, and Bandai Namco was kind enough to show it once more in London at a post-E3 event, allowing us to play two sections of the game and get a taste of what the sequel to 2013's Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch holds for us, showing us two large battles in which we got to try out the gameplay mechanics.
Before we give an account of our time in combat, players should know that, instead of focusing on Oliver, the protagonist from 2013's Wrath of the White Witch, players now control Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum, a young king who needs to reclaim his kingdom after being usurped. This adventure takes you through various open worlds and missions, and it's similar in terms of setup to Oliver's journey, in the sense that it's a third-person RPG in which you have a colourful world, battle systems, and a party of heroes.
The first demo section we played wasted no time in throwing us in at the deep end, as it squared us off against the not-so-friendly sounding Longfang, Lord of Flame, who was essentially a huge dragon-like creature swimming in a pool of lava as our party sat perched on a rocky island. As we started hitting his hands and firing projectiles, it dawned on us that this wasn't going to be a quick boss fight, as every attack we did knocked mere slithers off of his giant health bar.
Whereas the first game had familiars, creatures you needed to catch and tame before being able to use in battle, little creatures called higgledies are a big part of this game, and we got to grips with how to use them to our advantage in this boss fight. Every now and then a group of coloured higgledies would make themselves available for use, for example, and if you got to them in a certain amount of time and activated them you could then harness their powers for the good of your team, whether that be to heal your party with the greens, or produce a shield wall with the red ones. There's even a handy little counter on the screen to indicate how many of each colour are around you.
On top of this we could also use our own skills to try and battle the might of Longfang, and these can be both offensive and defensive. Holding R2 (to activate skills) and pressing triangle, for instance, healed our parties a little, but holding R2 and pressing cross unleashed a flurry of blows for great damage. These each had limited uses based on a blue bar above our health which filled when we attacked, so we found ourselves often lamenting using one in a wrong position or at a bad time. Once we got how to use both the higgledies and the skills, Longfang became much more manageable, and we could get up from his giant lava blast attacks without fearing a smokey doom.
Of course, if you don't budget wisely and waste all your skills like we did, there's always your bog standard attacks to keep you going, which include both melee attacks for getting in the face of your opponent, and long range attacks, which can be charged up (as can skill attacks) for greater damage. The latter, while good at keeping a distance for those cowards among us, doesn't do much damage, so it's really going to get boring if you rely too much on that.