We got a few hours of hands-on time with Ni No Kuni 2, the new Ghibli-like JRPG marrying epic story with real-time combat. The last time we saw this game, our preview was more focused on the new, hillside-roaming battles that play out on the meta map. This time, we got to play through a full section of story, and wow — that’s so Ghibli.
That particular cel-shaded style, that charming music you don’t mind listening to for ages, the mix of characters…
While Ni No Kuni 2 doesn’t have the Studio Ghibli name on it, this is more than just influence. From music to animations and character design, people who worked on famous Ghibli movies like Spirited Away also worked on this game.
The above video is a nearly 30-minute section of the game in which you wander into Goldpaw, a town with a peculiar way of deciding public policy.
Citizens of Goldpaw are partial to gambling. It seems to be part of every facet of their lives. You, too, will play their game of choice — a series of dice rolls in which you get to guess if the result will be higher or lower than a certain number.
Even the city’s taxes are decided by a die roll. The people gather around for a ceremony in which one huge die decides their financial fate. If it’s a six, then taxes increase by six.
But after a few straight sixes in a row, the citizens are feeling the pinch. And after a little bit of investigating, your party finds out that not is all as it seems.
Only something so Ghibli-esque could sell the climax of this chapter. It is, in the end, just a booger joke. But this style of anime does such a good job of making stories charming for both kids and adults, it can sell a booger joke without being too on the nose.
There was also a fair bit of fighting before this long story-based section. So although it’s almost 30 minutes of dialogue, what we’ve seen of Ni No Kuni 2 is paced quite well between story, hero-based RPG combat, and the new meta army mode.