I’ve been dipping back into Ni no Kuni II over the past week in short spurts in order to collect all of the possible citizens for my kingdom of Evermore. It’s because the game excels at making me feel like I did a good job at finishing simple quests.
I don’t think think that many people would say that Ni no Kuni II is a complicated game. While it has a lot of side quests and characters to recruit, it doesn’t demand a lot from you as a player. It doesn’t ask you to solve impossible brain teasers or grind through difficult battles. For the most part, it is a game of enjoyable smooth sailing, and the side quests to find new citizens for your kingdom of Evermore are no different. They are simple, and they are wonderful for being simple.
Take a quest I just did: Thetis, a doctor at the merfolk citadel of Hydropolis, asked me to fetch her some special water from a place called Tidewash Cave. I traveled across the world to that cave, went inside, did a couple fights, found the water, and teleported back to her. It took maybe ten minutes total to complete all of the steps of the quest, and Thetis was incredibly grateful when I returned.
You see, Thetis needed the water to make a potion that would help merfolk survive stave of fatigue and disease on land. It is her way of making sure that people of her species would be able to enjoy a full range of freedom and movement across land and sea. In the process of completing the quest, you find out that she’s doing this because she was often ill as a child, and that experience ultimately inspired her to become a doctor who is invested in helping as many people as she can.
It’s linear, and it’s thin, and it’s a little too-sweet, but I love every single part of this quest line. This is what the recruitment quests in Ni no Kuni II are like. They are all nice, and they all make you feel good about the world because you helped someone else. Sometimes those people are mean or cruel and you help them learn a lesson, or sometimes they’re just good-hearted citizens who need a helping hand with something they are working on.
No matter the case, Ni no Kuni II makes it clear that the naive, one-dimensional stuff you are doing helps make the world a better place. There is no ambiguity or dark turn. You’re not finding out that you were the villain all along in these quests. You are simply doing good things in a world that needs people to do good things in it. It’s pie-in-the-sky thinking, but in a world of dingy realism (or the clunky, half-hearted cruel “realism” of something like Far Cry 5), sometimes I just want to help someone out and have them tell me I did a good job.