Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Review
It’s here, It’s finally here. Ni No Kuni has finally made its way across the oceans to America. Is it worth playing, though? Keep reading to find out!
It used to be that you could rely on publishers like Square Enix to release at least a couple Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs) that have all the right parts to create a captivating experience. With the release of Final Fantasy XIII in 2010 and it’s follow ups Final Fantasy XIV and Final Fantasy XIII-2 all failing to live up to Square Enixes’ previous standards, it seemed that all hope for the next great JRPG had been lost.
Jump forward to 2013 and the release of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. Developed by the Japanese studio Level-5 for the PlayStation 3, Ni No Kuni is exactly what JRPG fans have been waiting for. Originally a Nintendo DS game exclusively released in Japan in 2010, the game was remade for the PlayStation 3 in 2011 with the promise of future localization. American gamers were finally graced with its release in January of 2013.
Ni No Kuni starts out with a young boy named Oliver picking up groceries from the local store for his mother Alicia. That night, Oliver sneaks out to test out his friends go-kart that they built together and things go horribly wrong. Oliver crashes the go-kart into the local river and Alicia dies from a weak heart after saving him.
Three days later, Oliver is alone in his room crying about his mother’s premature death and one of his tears falls on a toy she gave him when he was a child. Miraculously the toy comes to life and introduces itself as Mister Drippy. Oliver is told that in Mr. Drippy’s world everybody has a soul mate in Oliver’s world who is essentially a direct copy of them. Alicia’s soul mate, as it turns out, is trapped by an evil magician in Mr. Drippy’s world severing her tie with Alicia. Mr. Drippy tells Oliver that if he can save his mother’s soul mate, he can bring Alicia back to life.
Gameplay consists of standard JRPG mechanics such as traversing a world map that is filled with monsters to battle. The twist is that Oliver can capture and control these monsters, much like the popular Pokémon games, and use them to protect and battle for him. Also, Oliver and his monsters, called Familiars, have the ability to move around the battle map during the fight, much like the Tales series. The more interactive form of battle keeps away the common problem of inevitable grinding becoming stale later in the game.
Familiars learn new abilities as they gain experience and level up, but the system for increasing Oliver’s abilities is one of the games more unique features. By completing tasks (Read: Side Quests) for citizens of the different locales Oliver and Mr. Drippy will visit, Oliver will collect stamps on merit cards. When a merit card is full, Oliver can trade them in at a store that is found in every city for new abilities. This feature makes side quests feel like they’re more than game time extenders and like they actually matter.
It should come as no surprise at this point that the game is looks incredible. Animations were a joint effort between Level-5 and the acclaimed animation team at Studio Ghibli, creators of the anime Spirited Away. Textures are smooth, and character animations are equally spectacular with close to nothing in the sense of graphical hiccups. Every environment is equally as breathtaking as the one that comes before it. From the quiet streets of Oliver’s hometown Motorville, to the vast castle streets of Ding Dong Del, nobody will be disappointed with the way that Ni No Kuni looks.
Ni No Kuni features an original soundtrack created by Joe Hiashi, composer of many Studio Ghibli films, and performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. Familiars have cute and sometimes menacing voices, and the localization of voice actors is impeccable. Delivery is near flawless and players won’t feel bad about the absence of a Japanese voice track.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a game that nobody with a PlayStation 3 should miss. Those without a PlayStation 3, this game is worth buying one for. Fans of JRPGs will feel right at home when playing, and people who generally aren’t fans will accept this game with open arms. The heartbreaking story, beautiful graphics, tight gameplay, and stellar soundtrack all add up to be a game that truly is an instant classic.
Written by Guest Reviewer: RandomHero1270