As a fan of the traditional JRPG genre, the release of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a shinning beacon of warming light during a time of a market decline. With Ni No Kuni selling out fast, with Bandi promising more stock soon, does the title live up to the sells numbers?
It pains me to say that in the last few years we have seen a decline in traditional J-RPG’s. Sure, we have had a few Final Fantasy games but with each new release they become more westernized. Slowly moving away from the core features which we have come to know and love, only to be replaced with fast paced button presses and linear progression. It’s for those reasons that slowly the RPG genre has be in a fast decline. Ni No Kuni however is a step in the right direction as it takes pride in going back to what made the genre what it once was.
Created by Level-5 and Studio Ghibli, Ni No Kuni is a rich and detailed game filled to the brim with content to make you smile throughout. To start with it is impossible to look at Ni No Kuni without taking a moment to appreciate the beautiful art style seen throughout the whole came. Studio Ghibli have continued to live up to their high standard and have helped produce a visual style which captures the emotion, detail and beauty of the world and characters to the mark. In addition, Studio Ghibli has also supplied fully animated cutsence’s to help further the story telling in a unique and magical way. Everything about the way Ni No Kuni looks is just jaw dropping and worth your time. Often you will find your self just stopping to take in the world around you. Along with the visuals the story is something to be taken in all it’s beauty. It’s a heartwarming story that may seem childish at times is in fact, something that really hits home. It’s powerful, meaningful and filled with action and emotion. However, I don’t want to give anything away from this epic so let’s move along.
Visuals out of the way let’s continue on and drive deep into Ni No Kuni and see what the game really has to offer. It should be noted that the game is huge, as any RPG should be. With a large open world, huge dungeons and plenty of side quests there is a lot to do. Not even starting to talk about the endless amounts of loot to be found and crafted throughout the game. It’s refreshing to find a game that offers such a large amount of content. With that in mind though, this review is written having only explored about half of what the game has to offer. It’s just that big. However with the games story and fun gameplay, your be wanting to spend as much time within the magical world of Ni No Kuni as you can.
Gameplay is however, where things get a bit interesting and where the traditional RPG style of things is mixed up. Outside of battles gameplay is the standard task of running around and talking to the people of the world to help push the story forward. It should be pointed out that there is a lot of reading within Ni No Kuni. Voice acting is found throughout at times but be ready to read. However there is a lot of the open world elements that really let the game down for me. From unneeded menu screens being shown over and over again to some dialog which feels pointless.
A lot. As for gameplay within battles this is where Ni No Kuni really shines with a system it likes to call ‘familiars’ . These are creatures within the world which are born from within the hearts of people, something that is also referenced to a lot through the game. You command up to three familiars per character and level them up, learning new skills. You can also equip them with a range of items to further improve them in battle, as in any RPG. It’s a simple idea and is carried out in a creative way which results in an enjoyable battle system. However, I want to point out that the idea of the familiars is very much a ‘Pokemon-ish’ system. Later on in the game you are able to start ‘catching’ familiars which just adds to the Pokemon feel. The overall number of creatures you can catch is well over three hundred. So it will keep you busy.
It’s hard to cover Ni No Kuni in just this initial review as there is so much I want to express, but it’s something you need to experience. Ni No Kuni does everything right and touches home on the ideas that made J-RPG’s so successful and enjoyable in the first place. It’s been hard to put Ni No Kuni down as it’s a work of beauty and charm which really just captures a wonderful experience. Sure there are tiny things which I feel are unneeded within the game, such as those repeating menu screens at times, but those are only two second annoyances to a game which is otherwise near prefect.
If you own a PS3 and are looking for a good RPG then make sure you pick up Ni No Kuni. It’s should be up high on everyones list of games to play this year. I can’t wait to get back to playing it!