In a special online presentation held during the Tokyo Game Show 2020, publisher Level-5 and developer Netmarble demonstrated a few minutes of gameplay from the upcoming mobile RPG Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds. The entire presentation was then uploaded to YouTube with English subtitles (“for a limited time” according to the official Twitter account).
Cross Worlds is a deviation from previous Ni no Kuni games that used a traditional fantasy setting. Instead, Cross Worlds has a sci-fi transformation. A player is an ordinary person who is beta-testing a new virtual reality game called Soul Diver in the real world of Ichi no Kuni (literally “one country”).
Five player classes have been announced for Ni no Kuni Cross Worlds: Swordsman, Witch, Rogue, Destroyer, and Engineer. In the online presentation, the popular Japanese YouTuber Masuo was able to start a game as Swordsman, but his in-game character looked different from the default version, indicating that there will be character customization options (but none were shown). In the game inside the game, his character was greeted by an AI character named Rania. A sudden glitch in the system replaces Rania with a “real” version of the same woman, but everything goes dark before they explain the situation.
The Swordsman awakens in a burning city, greeted by a tiny imp-like creature named Cluu, but the action begins immediately as the player must swipe the screen to avoid a falling tower. After a brief encounter with a dragon wearing a giant talisman, Cluu directs the player to the castle to help the Queen. This allows us to take a look at the control interface for Cross Worlds. A virtual scroll pad on the left of the screen can be adjusted by moving the player while the camera swipes the screen.
The Swordmaster enters the battle controlled by a circle of buttons on the right side of the screen; there is a large “attack” button in the middle and Masuo hammers it to slash monsters. Smaller buttons around the attack button are not disclosed, but it looks like there will be special abilities with a cooldown before it becomes active again. Debris blocks the way to the Queen and the only way to get through is to grab a bomb and press and slide the contextual button.
When she reaches the Queen and interrupts her death at the hands of a big villain, the actress discovers that she was the woman she met when she first entered Ni no Kuni. At this point, the demo was discontinued, but other trailers show the player traveling to Evermore to save the kingdom.
It should be said that unlike previous Ni no Kuni mobile games, Cross Worlds looks identical to past console versions. Although the characters are fully 3D creations, they look like 2D drawings by Studio Ghibli, the famous Japanese animation company he collaborated with.
In the presentation, there were two more game modes in Kingdom and Team Arena. Kingdom Mode is a cooperative multiplayer mode where players can explore the city and countryside together. Players also have an acquaintance who watches behind them and can help them on their journey even though no skill is shown. One-touch of a button below them can replace the familiar for another. In the video shown, live streaming hosts were shown chasing wild animals and capturing them, but earlier footage showed competitive games like football or dice.
In Team Arena, six players could compete in a 3 vs 3 fighting mini-game. Rather than a strength test, the main purpose is to collect creatures called “higglades” in the arena. Players can attack each other and throw items to make their opponents lose their arrogance, but even if they are knocked out, they will come back within a few seconds. The only way to win is to collect the most higgildies and escape from other players for 10 seconds.
Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds does not have an official release date, but previous announcements indicate that it will be released in Japan before the end of the year. No foreign broadcasts or localizations 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 that international versions may be released later.