Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom has been in the works for a while now, having been delayed just a little bit longer only recently, but we still got to play more of the game when we visited Bandai Namco's Winter Showcase in Paris last week, including two levels we had tried before in our previous preview as well as two new ones.
The first level we dived into (which you can watch above) saw us take part in a Battle for the Heartlands - as the level was called - and this was a somewhat more tactical affair than we've previously played in Level-5's RPG. In a heavily-tutorialised section, we were guided through how to use the adorable mini-army of soldiers we were given, who circled around the protagonist Evan as we worked to reclaim the land from our enemies. On the one side we had our melee forces, and on the other we had our archers, which is a pretty good combo for taking to the battlefield if you ask us. When we say mini-army, we mean just a few little soldiers in a group, all of which are controlled in real time.
We were surprised by just how simple it was to command these forces, as you don't so much command them as rotate them. Different buttons have different attack commands for example, such as all-out attack, but the positioning was far more important. By using the triggers we could rotate our forces depending on where they were needed, and although we're not exactly strategic masterminds we had the good sense to keep our archers at the back of us at all times, while our melee units were facing towards the enemies. If you rush in and really kick things off, there's a chance that all the units can squish into one incoherent mess, but for the most part these two clusters of soldiers just stay at opposites sides to one another, moving when they're told to.
What we also had explained to us is that there's a rock-paper-scissors system in play, where certain units are effective against one kind but also vulnerable against another (you know how it goes). The game helpfully points things out by colour coding each unit clearly on-screen, and also by highlighting who has the advantage, a blue arrow meaning you have the advantage against a unit, with a red arrow meaning they have the upper hand against you. This sounds confusing, but considering there were only ever a handful of groups of enemies on screen at any one time, it was pretty useful in keeping us safe.
There are also special tactics for you to use as well, which help spice things up and keep them entertaining. Chingis's special attack is an airstrike, for instance, while Khunbish's is more for support, as it can heal all allies when you're in a spot of bother. Shock tactics can also be used by pressing circle (we played on PS4), and these make you invincible for a short period of time, with unstoppable attacking power to boot.
One last thing we learned while playing is that the scenery is often important, whether it be raining down arrows from the high ground or bottlenecking enemies in a valley. Although we didn't get enough time to really toy around with this element of the game, we bet this will be something that appeals to strategy fans out there. Using all of the abilities and elements together is vital, as we discovered in this rather simple section, although we can imagine things will get tougher as the game progresses. With such simple and accessible strategic options, though, we look forward to getting stuck in again.