Platform: PlayStation 3
Reviewed by Darryl Linington
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is title that may have slipped under the radar for some; however, if you are a fan of all things JRPG related then this title may just suit your needs, reach your expectations and deliver something that is truly unique, emotional and an absolute pleasure to experience. Let’s just say Ni No Kuni delivers in all aspects.
Developed by Level-5 in collaboration with Studio Ghibli, Ni No Kuni follows the story of a young boy named Oliver. You see, Oliver is not a brute, nor is he military maniac who wields a gun with 50 barrels… He is just a kid who is kind, generous and good-natured. Oliver lives in a town called Motorville, a 1950’s style town which is colourful, vibrant and filled with interesting characters.
While out on an errand for his mother, Oliver is approached by his friend Philip who excitedly informs him that he has finally finished building his new race car. However, Oliver seems reluctant at first, due to the fact that he is concerned of what his mother may think. The boys then decide that it is best to sneak in a little night time driving, while Oliver’s mother is sleeping. This ultimately leads to a catastrophic event that will quite honestly bring tears to your eyes.
A few cut-scenes later, while you take the time to dry your eyes, a deeply depressed Oliver is told that he is “The Pure-Hearted One”, by a rather straightforward fairy named Mr Drippy. Oliver is now destined to save both his world and the parallel fantasy world from the evil clutches of Shadar, an evil wizard who has the power to steal a portion of a person’s heart.
To avoid any further spoilers, I will end off the story breakdown there. Ni No Kuni quite honestly holds a gripping storyline that is emotional, breath taking and intense. This just goes to show that the developers have done a phenomenal job when it comes to this titles highly creative storyline.
When it comes to gameplay, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch offers up some fantastic JRPG action; however, as cartoonish as this title may look, it is definitely one that fits the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” perfectly… as this title will punish you severely for underestimating even lower level enemies. Like most RPG/JRPG style titles, battles are played out in an active time battle style, which allows players to move around the battlefield freely while selecting the type of attack or health restoration commands that will suit the situation.
As things start off you will solely use Oliver, during the first few hours, and his book of spells. While Oliver is not the strongest character I have come across, he does have the ability to use creatures called Familiars in order to compensate for his lack of strength. Familiars are collectible monsters, kind of like Pokémon, that will assist in you in battle for the majority of this title. Familiars can even be conjured up at special moments using Oliver’s vast array of spells; however, each and every enemy featured on the world map can be tamed in order to fight alongside you…just be warned, as you will only be able to tame familiars during the later stages of this titles.
To be honest, the best part of each and every Familiar is the fact that you can increase their stat points manually by feeding them treats and equip them with various weapons, armour and any other goodies that are available to them. Furthermore, Familiars can also evolve, which means once they hit a certain level they can evolve into much stronger companions. While this all sounds very simple, it is rather complex, but a hell of a lot fun to experience.
But wait, there’s more! Apart from the main quest and massive boss battles that you will face, Ni No Kuni offers up a variety of side quests, which either involve healing someone’s broken heart, disposing of enemies, fetch and deliver quests and puzzles that are actually mind boggling hard! Yes, as a grown adult, even I struggled through some of Ni No Kuni’s challenging puzzles. This is why Ni No Kuni is amazing, it is not as simple as it looks… however, once you have overcome the odds you actually feel like you have achieved something.
When it comes to the world map, travelling from point A to point B can be a strain; however, travelling is something that you will have to do in order to survive. You see, the world map is populated by various enemies that will in turn help you level up if you defeat them. I suggest level grinding to the point of exhaustion in certain areas as things just get harder the further you progress.
Graphically, Ni No Kuni is tremendously eye catching; however, it is the finer details that make this title truly beautiful. You see, in most of the newer titles on the market the characters seem so stiff and rigid… kinda like they have been stuffed with toothpicks. This is not the case with Ni No Kuni as everything just seems to flow beautifully. A perfect example would be the way Oliver’s cloak moves in the wind as he runs down the beautiful streets of various towns… even Mr Drippy has his moments where his movements will change quite dramatically during certain situations. These are the moments that make Ni No Kuni look spectacular and make it the visual spectacle that it is. Colour is another highlight of Ni No Kuni, as this title is bursting at the seams with vibrant colours and graphically appealing environments that really set the mood for this phenomenal adventure.
When it comes to sound, Ni No Kuni features an amazing voice cast, which is accompanied by an equally amazing musical score. Furthermore, the developers have done a phenomenal job translating this title for English-speaking locations. To be honest, this title features a hell of a lot of humour, wordplay and sarcasm, which means that it had to be a massive job in order to translate from Japanese to English to keep the entire experience truly authentic.
I can honestly say that I enjoyed my time with this title. It has a stunning storyline and characters that one can appreciate and relate to. The visuals are stunning and the musical score really sets the mood for every occasion.
At the end of the day Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is an adventure title, and the adventure that it depicts is one that is beautiful, heart-warming, challenging and really something that is unique and special. Furthermore, it is a title that will take you around 40 hours to complete the main storyline; however, this can be increased to 80 hours if you decide to take on every side-quest.
Lasting appeal: 9/10
Reviewed on PlayStation 3