At a special online presentation during Tokyo Game Show 2020 today, publisher Level-5 and developer Netmarble showed a few minutes of gameplay of their upcoming mobile RPG Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds. The entire presentation was later uploaded to YouTube with English subtitles (“for a limited time” according to the official Twitter account).
Cross Worlds is a departure from the previous Ni no Kuni games, which used a traditional fantasy setting. Instead, Cross Worlds has a science-fiction twist: the player is a regular person in the “real” world of Ichi no Kuni (literally “one country”) who is beta-testing a new virtual reality game called Soul Diver, which takes them into the world of Ni no Kuni.Five player classes have been revealed for Ni no Kuni Cross Worlds: Swordsman, Witch, Rogue, Destroyer and Engineer. In today’s online presentation, popular Japanese YouTuber Masuo was able to begin a game as the Swordsman, although his in-game character looked different than the default version, suggesting there will be character customization options (but none were shown). In the game inside the game, his character was greeted by an AI character called Rania. A sudden glitch in the system replaces Rania with a “real” version of the same woman, but before they can explain the situation everything goes dark.The Swordsman awakes in a burning city greeted by a small imp-like creature called Cluu, but the action starts immediately as the player must swipe the screen to avoid a falling tower. After a brief encounter with a dragon wearing a giant amulet, Cluu directs the player to head towards the castle to aid the Queen. This gives us a glimpse at the control interface for Cross Worlds: A virtual slide pad on the left of the screen moves the player, while the camera can be adjusted by swiping the screen.
The Swordsman enters combat, which is controlled with a circle of buttons on the right side of the screen; a big “attack” button is in the center, and Masuo was hammering it to slash the monsters. Smaller buttons around the attack button were not explained but appear to be special abilities which have a cooldown timer before becoming active again. Debris blocks the way to the Queen and the only way through is to pick up a bomb and throw it through contextual button presses and swipes.
Once he reaches the Queen and interrupts her death at the hands of a towering villain, the player discovers she is the woman he met when he first entered Ni no Kuni. At this point the demo cut off, but other trailers have shown the player travelling to Evermore on a quest to save the kingdom.
It should be said that unlike previous Ni no Kuni mobile titles, Cross Worlds looks on par with the console releases of the past: Despite being entirely 3D creations, the characters resemble 2D drawings from famed Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli, which was a collaborator on the first Ni no Kuni; indeed, during the presentation, Netmarble Japan CEO Yuji Endo said that the new game recreates Ghibli’s world from the original. In footage during today’s presentation, a variety of lush environments were shown, from forests to deserts and fields to cities.
Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds Screenshots
Two other gameplay modes were featured in today’s presentation, Kingdom and Team Arena. Kingdom Mode is a cooperative multiplayer mode where players can explore the city and countryside together. Players also have a familiar who trails behind them and can “help them on their journey” though no skills were shown; one touch of a button beneath them can swap the familiar for another. During today’s video, the on-air hosts were shown chasing wild animals and capturing them, though earlier footage showed competitive games like soccer or dice.
In Team Arena, six players were able to compete in a 3-on-3 combat mini-game. Rather than a test of strength, the actual goal is to collect creatures called “higgledies” inside the arena. Players can attack each other and throw items to make their opponents lose their higgledies, but even if they are knocked out they will come back in a few seconds. The only way to win is to collect the most higgledies and evade the other players for 10 seconds.
Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds has no formal release date, but previous announcements suggest it will be out in Japan before the year ends. No foreign releases or localization have yet been confirmed either, but the presence of fully subtitled English and Chinese videos on the official Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds channel suggests international versions may be released later.