When the original Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was released worldwide for the PlayStation 3 back in 2013, it ended up being my absolute favorite video game that year. In addition to the action-RPG, monster-collection-focused gameplay, the audio and visual experience that the title offered was enough to practically move me to tears. The artistic direction for the title came from the creative minds at Studio Ghibli, who have said that they approached this game just like they would have approached one of their films.
One of my absolute favorite aspects of the first title was the musical score by Joe Hisaishi, famed composer known for his personal and artistic bond with legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki. And while Studio Ghibli in its previous form will not be associated with this sequel, many of the creative minds from the original will be returning. As you watch the trailer below, I would urge you to soak in the pure auditory bliss that is Hisaishi’s score:
Yoshiyuki Momose is an artist and animator who has notably worked on such anime as Spirited Away, Porco Rosso, and Legend of the Galactic Heroes. He is onboard the project as character designer, and it really shows. We’ve seen our fair share of games — whether they be RPG, hack ‘n slash action, or even arcade-style shooters — unquestionably up-the-ante when it comes to anime-inspired graphics as of late, but I dare suggest that this may be the closest we’ve ever come to tearing down the wall between animated frames and real-time computer-generated action entirely.
Ni no Kuni II is shaping up to be a video game adventure for the ages. If it can succeed in holding onto the the artistic magic of the original, all while blowing our expectations out of the water with some much-hyped and proposedly polished gameplay, we’ve likely achieved video-gaming Nirvana.
Ni no Kuni II will be released for the PlayStation 4 and PC on January 19, 2018.