Amorphous Experiences

Exploration is at the heart of every great adventure.

Whether you’re exploring the irradiated ruins of post-apocalyptic societies, the vast expanse of space, or the vibrancy of ancient Greece there’s always something new to see or do. I seem to be drawn to these experiences nowadays. I don’t really know why, though. Whether it was a conscious decision wrought from previous experience, such as the hours spent scavenging the desolate landscape of the Capital Wasteland, or whether it was the various MMORPGs that encouraged me, is hard to say. But it’s been an interesting transition from the countless JRPGs of my formative years.

Not that I’ve abandoned JRPGs entirely.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch and Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom were both excellent JRPGs. I’ve just decided to invest hundreds of hours into the most recent releases of the Assassin’s Creed series, too. Mostly because of those pesky question marks. Oh, how they haunt me.

Prior to Assassin’s Creed: Origins I’d never experienced anything from the Assassin’s Creed series. While that entry (and those that follow it) are considered the black sheep of the Assassin’s Creed family, I found myself wholly absorbed by the sheer breadth of content available. It’s an incredibly competent RPG with an enthralling main campaign story. I feel the same way about Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, too. Not that I’m anywhere near finishing its main campaign. It’s like a towering chocolate gateaux, where each layer of sponge is a new task to complete and each chocolate curl playfully dusted atop its peaks is a new mechanic. While it may be incredibly alluring- and undoubtedly satisfying- it is best consumed in smaller portions. It would be unwise to attempt to eat a chocolate gateaux of such magnitude in one sitting.

Some doors are better left closed.

Not that I’m complaining. I couldn’t be happier with these purchases, not only have they exceeded every prior expectation but they exhibit complexity often woefully absent from modern RPGs. Divinity: Original Sin has similar immensity, as does its sequel, Divinity: Original Sin 2, both featuring noteworthy character development mechanics. I’d always considered statistical development to be the staple of any RPG but I’ve found many RPGs to be sorely lacking. Offering no attributes (or abilities) to invest in, or affording insignificant progression for doing so.

Which is why the release of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning has inspired me.

The original release, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, is an outstanding RPG, and one that I’d like to revisit. Naturally, the remaster would (arguably) be the best way to do this. But I’ve still got a handful of achievements to unlock in the original release, and I’d like to attempt to unlock those first.

As a result, I’ll (eventually) have two character builds. I’m considering a Finesse/Sorcery hybrid build for the original release, while I’ll probably settle on a Might build for the remaster. I’ve not actually done one of those before. I’ve built a Might/Sorcery hybrid before but never solely Might. I’ll be focusing on various quests in the original release, as many of the achievements I’ve yet to unlock are related to certain quest lines. While I’m greatly interested in the post-release DLC, Fatesworn, in the remaster, as that promises new content. I’ve been intending to revisit Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning for some time, but much like Dark Souls or Fallout 3, which I’d also like to revisit, I’ve not set aside the time to do it. I’m always busy with something else. But I’m going to try to make time for these (and my creative pursuits) in the future.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

The One True King

Let the banners of war never again be unfurled.

Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is the exceptionally enjoyable and engrossing sequel to Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch that features an ever-expanding world to explore, an ever-evolving kingdom to lead, functional resource gathering mechanics, and more side quests than any one fledgling king could hope to complete. Much like the previous entry in the series there’s no shortage of things to do. You’ll be tasked with slaying powerful monsters, collecting songbooks, recruiting new citizens, learning new recipes, leading your armies to war, and so much more as you work through the main campaign.

The DLC adds a sizeable chunk of playable content, too.

Besides the overflowing number of things to do my favourite experiences were those of kingdom building. I’ve written before of how delightfully fun the process is, but kingdom building is superb and it never feels like a chore to return to Evermore after you’ve delved into a dungeon or tackled a tainted monster.

Being able to build and continually upgrade facilities to have access to increasingly powerful equipment, more varied Higgledies, more impressive spells, and further bonuses in combat is a rare pleasure. It never feels forced but it’s not required, either. You can quite easily finish the Dreamer’s Doors without the Dimensional Lab. Or you could simply buy equipment rather than craft your own. Or find it on monsters. That said, it’s entirely worth your time to invest in developing Evermore and I encourage you to do so. It’s a ridiculously useful hub location that unlocks more than a few useful things. It’s also a great place to engage in various side quests that (I do believe) are unavailable elsewhere. Or you could just catch up with your various party members and see what they’ve got to say.

I’ve also greatly enjoyed the various combat mechanics in the sequel. Opting instead for an action-orientated approach that allows your party members to act autonomously, but also lets you switch the playable character, offering the choice between long range and close range weaponry, while giving you full control of their spells and abilities. It’s almost entirely seamless, too. Unless you’re on the world map you don’t need to switch to a dedicated combat screen. Making for more fluid, engaging, and enjoyable combat. It also allows you to see when enemies have superior numbers or are of a higher level.

Which is quite useful inside of the Dreamer’s Doors.

The aforementioned comprise the majority of randomly generated content in the sequel. Each Dreamer’s Door leads to a labyrinthine dungeon which you’ll need to explore as an ever-increasing Danger Level promises more powerful monsters, and your aim is to either finish the dungeon or escape to safety.

I had great expectations for Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom and it has far exceeded them by having a wealth of playable content and a surprisingly extensive main campaign. Which is a good thing. It’s always better to have more content than less especially when it is of the quality that this series is known for. The only drawback to being entirely absorbed in the series is that I’ve finished the majority of content in both, and I’m currently working through the DLC in the sequel. Which, really, isn’t a drawback, as it’s been an entirely enjoyable affair. I’ve not once felt that I’m forcing myself through the content to see what’s next. Which is why if you’re interested in enjoyable, engrossing, and downright fun JRPGs I can highly recommend anything and everything in the Ni no Kuni series!

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

A Fledgling Kingdom

Where everyone can live happily ever after.

I’ll be the first to admit that I do have a slight problem when it comes to building houses in video games. Or building anything for that matter. I’d assume that Suikoden is entirely responsible for this, but you didn’t necessarily build Toran Castle and instead hired the playable Stars of Destiny who improved the facilities available therein. Hence why I’ve been overjoyed with the kingdom building in Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, as it’s reminiscent of the concept present in Suikoden but feels much broader and has exceptional functionality. Each citizen recruited to Evermore makes an immeasurable difference.

Especially when crafting new equipment or cooking up Higgledies.

Crafting is actually one of my favourite things to do when visiting Evermore. With the different resource gathering facilities you’re able to collect endless quantities of materials, and through the production facilities you’re able to turn those materials into powerful equipment. It seems simple but it’s delightfully functional.

Unlike other crafting mechanics, where rare materials are so ridiculously rare that you don’t even attempt to use them, or where recipes are often obtained far too late for them to be useful, the crafting mechanics in Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom are wonderfully accessible. You unlock sets of crafting recipes each time the relevant research is finished, and by crafting that equipment you’re able to heighten the proficiency of your citizens. As citizens become more proficient they can undertake more complex research. That’s it. No arbitrary requirements or excessive grinding needed. This extends to every facility available in Evermore, too. From the Dimensional Lab to Tasty’s Cookshop each upgrade remains as intuitive as the last. In fact, it was so intuitive I often built far too much for my current citizen count.

There is such a thing as having too many Kingsguilders.

For these (and many other) reasons I’ve greatly enjoyed the ambitious sequel to Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch even if it does do several things differently. The kingdom building is incredibly fun and I’ve often spent hours researching, recruiting citizens, and unlocking new spells or equipment with no regrets. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on the main campaign by taking the time to outfit my party. It never feels forced, either. You never loathe having to spend time in Evermore because there’s so much to do. The only minor criticisms I have of the sequel concern both the skirmishes and the tainted monsters.

Both of which seem to be haphazardly peppered around the world map.

The skirmishes disappear and reappear with annoying frequency and seem to follow no particular order. Therefore, levelling troops can be a clunky affair. While tainted monsters, though presented in an order, and with what you would assume is increasing difficulty, make little sense when you actually encounter them.

That said, these are very minor criticisms that don’t affect the main campaign in any meaningful way. As you’ve no requirement to fight any tainted monsters (other than those for side quests) and the story-related skirmishes are surmountable if you’ve collected troops from side quests. These criticisms don’t detract from the general wonder of exploring the world map, either. Which is another thing that Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom has done very well. It has a sprawling world map that’s fun to explore as you’re always finding treasure, new locations, or more Higgledies. It really encourages you to leave Evermore and to see what’s happening outside the kingdom walls. Not that I want to. I’ve got Kingsguilders to collect, citizens to level up, and research to undertake. I’m sure that things will work out without my intervention.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie