Dec 22nd, 2016

When Ni No Kuni 2 was revealed at last year’s PSX conference, I practically flew through the roof of my first-floor apartment. I was delighted that my favorite PS3 RPG was getting a next-gen sequel. I was giddy at the thought of training more familiar to battle alongside me in my quest to save Ni No Kuni’s world from whatever peril awaited me. And, after the most recent trailer at PSX 2016, I was confused by the lack of any familiars.

With the lack of monster collecting games on PlayStation platforms, Ni No Kuni had become somewhat of a standout title. The game managed to scratch that itch for those who didn’t want to pick up a handled game, wanted a 3d Pokémon-ish game, or wanted the familiarity of Pokémon capturing with a different spin on the tried and true formula. I was in the latter camp. So imagine my surprise when I watch the new trailer for Ni No Kuni 2 and see protagonist Evan whacking away at his adversaries’ health without a chipper animal sidekick to back him up. Sure, he has his human friends and what appear to be a pretty capable assortment of attacks between his party members and himself to do well against the low-level beats, but it’s just not the same. The fun of playing the original Ni No Kuni came from battling these beasts, capturing them, and forging a sketchy, servant-friend relationship between the two of you.

The figurative bond between myself and my familiars was odd. Although I certainly had stronger creatures to choose from, when things got tough, I knew I could always rely on my earlier-captured monsters to spring into action. Yeah, that’s probably a bone headed move spurred by the anime I watched as a kid, but can you blame me? Those centuries has been with me the longest, so of course I would have a special attachment to them.

Familiars were a large part of Ni No Kuni’s identity. Oliver and company could fight, but it was the combination of these humans and their animal allies that allowed players to see the light of day after wading through a smelly sewer or walking across the sweltering hot desert. They weren’t an afterthought, nor were they supplementary to any element of the game. They were front and center as they should be.

The lack of any noticeable familiars in promotional media for Ni No Kuni 2 is worrisome as it paints a picture where maybe they’ve disappeared from that world, or maybe the mechanic was removed in favor of a more operable, simpler fighting mechanic.

With the low levels characters we saw in the trailer, the only thing we can do is hope the familiar system comes back in full force later in the game.