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Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch Review

 
ni no kuni logo
ni no kuni logo
ni no kuni logo

 
At A Glance...
 

Formats: Playstation 3
 
Genre:
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
9.0
9/ 10


User Rating
no ratings yet

 

We liked?


  • Superb graphics and animation throughout the cut scenes and game
  • Wonderful score and voice work
  • Cavernously deep gameplay and adventure
  • Easy to access for new players
  • Interesting and unique story

Not so much?


  • Reliance on archaic save systems
  • Can be hard and a little “grindy” in places
  • Radial menu fight system can be cumbersome


Final Fiendish Findings?

As someone who walked away from JRPG years ago I found this game a revelation. It dragged me back to the genre kicking and screaming… with laughter. I’d recommend it to everyone who every had a fondness for a JRPG title or those looking to just play a superbly crafted game and story.

0
Posted February 1, 2013 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

Ni No Kuni seems like a match made in heaven! Anyone who has played any of Level 5’s Professor Layton titles will know just how close the style of those cut scenes come to a Studio Ghibli joint. Marrying Ghibli and Level 5 together to bring us Ni No Kuni should produce one of the most interesting and fresh looking RPG action in some years…. thankfully it’s done just that!

Ni No Kuni follows the exploits of a boy called Oliver. After a tragic accident takes Oliver’s mother he is visited by the High Lord of the Fairies.. Mr Drippy! A superbly voiced and realised character with a dry wit and superb Welsh lilt. Mr Drippy convinces Oliver to come and help him resolve the issues of his world which will hopefully, in turn, help Oliver locate his mothers doppelganger (or Soul Mate as they call it) in Mr Drippy’s world.

First mention has to go to the absolutely stunning localisation work undertaken by Level 5. The script is superb and the side-kick character of Mr Drippy (the lantern nosed character on the cover) has been rendered as the quirky Welshman so very well indeed. Having moved to Wales a handful of years back I can verify that every single “Buttie”, “Tidy” and “By there!” is genuinely and correctly placed. The voice work tips the scales to make this one of the greatest new characters for many a year.

Ni No Kuni Wrath of the white witch

Graphically the game stuns for the most part and for the rest it’s just plain gorgeous. Animation in cut scenes is sublime and up to the highest of standards set by previous Ghibli classics like Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. Character animation is slick and perfectly framed. The worlds that Oliver inhabits are both well crafted, rounded and realised. In game the graphical showboating continues with characters looking just as clean and colourful as the cut scenes. Frame rate is smooth and the game never looks anything but gorgeous.

Complimenting the gorgeous visuals of Ni No Kuni is the superb score written by Studio Ghibli’s own Joe Hisaishi and performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic orchestra. The music dips and soars along with the on screen action and it feels every bit the same quality and lavish attention that the music would get for a Ghibli movie.

Voice work, as already mentioned, ranges from solid to superb. Some deliveries are a little stilted and the main character Oliver has moments that stretch the quality boundaries a little. Taken as a whole though the voice work and script is nothing short of a triumph to equal the superlative visuals.

All those animations and voice overs are well and good, but, what if you’ve no interest in returning to the JRPG genre? Well my friends I am here to say that, as someone who walked away from JRPG in the PS2 era, this game is what you’ve been waiting for.

The slow build up gives you plenty of chance to get to grips with the games multi-world travel, spells, Familiars (small Pokémon like creatures – more on those later), equipment management and general mechanics. The first few hours could have been overwhelming to all but the most experience JRPG fans and left the game impenetrable to novice or less able gamers. As such Level 5 manage to make Ni No Kuni accessible and manageable.

As well as the usual JRPG troupes (party systems, rations, spells, large arena battles etc) the game takes a dash of Pokémon/Tamagotchi and adds that to the mix. As the game progresses you will collect various Familiars. These small characters can then be equipped with class specific items (swords, shields, staffs etc) and fed treats to improve their stats and help them grow to the next levels. It’s these Familiar that then do the fighting during the games skirmishes. Each familiar will be aligned with a certain “type” – sun, moon etc. You then have to put the right type of Familiar up against the enemies you are facing.

As the battle rages on you have access to full movement between commands. This is useful if you are waiting for some health or magic power orbs to be dropped or just to evade. As Oliver your strengths lie in swapping out the Familiars (R1 button) to make best use of their skills and stamina. You can also cast offensive and defensive spells as well as healing actions. All this is done from radial wheel type speech bubbles at the bottom left of the screen. It takes little getting used to and, at times, can be far to fiddly (sometimes resulting in a punishing death). For the most part though it works well enough and you get used to the quirks of the system.

Ni No Kuni is a big game… no seriously this game is HUGE! Your first, moderately pace, play through will see you consuming around 45 – 50 hours of your time. If you want to explore more and take on several of the small side-quests in the game I would suggest a time nearer double that.

The game isn’t perfect. It uses many of the annoying JRPG elements that drove me from the genre years ago. Not being able to save at any point is still stupid and annoying. Having to scout out the small milestone like markers that restore health/mp and allow you to save is frustrating. Especially if you’ve spent twenty of thirty minutes crawling slowly full a dungeon/area to only get killed and then have to be returned to that initial save marker from 30 minutes ago. You can save at any point outside of these quest/dungeon areas but it still a stupid troupe from days gone-by that needs eradicating.

The game is also a little on the hard side. Now I caveat that two-fold. Firstly, there is an easy mode which does impact the difficulty somewhat. It also isn’t a game that can be rushed. If you try and rush through then you will have one or both of the following issues: You’ll have to grind like crazy later on/You’ll die too much. If you take your time, engage in the smaller fights as you walk around. This will naturally build your characters (both Oliver, his party members, and the Familiar level up with experience points) and not mean you’re left with a massive amount of JRPG grinding in the later stages of the game.

Final Thoughts

Ni No Kuni is a superb benchmark for JRPG titles. A real stand-out moment for a genre that has taken a real beating on the current platforms.

The graphical prowess on display in the game is stunning. Level 5 have worked Ghibli’s animation magic in to their own brand of puzzle solving, humour and role playing. What’s left is a shining example of what was great about the genre at the start and just how far it has come since.

A massive prospect of game play that will give you many, many times your cash investment back in hours of exploration and questing.  I didn’t even touch on the crafting via the magic couldron or the Familiar capturing portions… or the pieces of heart you need to capture and replace… there is just so much you need to discover for yourselves.

As someone who walked away from JRPG years ago I found this game a revelation. It dragged me back to the genre kicking and screaming… with laughter. I’d recommend it to everyone who every had a fondness for a JRPG title or those looking to just play a superbly crafted game and story.


Zeth

 
Zeth is our EU ninja and Editor in Chief. He's been writing about video games since 2008 when he started on BrutalGamer. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.