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Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch PS3 Review - -
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Reviewed by
Jamie Kirk
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch PS3 Review. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a special game and a rare beast in the current console generation.

Gameplay 9.5
Graphics 9.0
Sound 9.0
Value 9.2
Distributor: Namco Bandai
Review Date: Feb 2013
Jamie Kirk


Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is the product of a collaboration from developers Level-5 (Dark Cloud 1 & 2, Dragon Quest VIII) and famed Japanese animation company Stubio Ghibli (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro) that looks extremely promising.  The thought of classic JRPG gameplay coupled with a beautiful aesthetic and a charming story has excited many. The legion of PS3 JRPG fans who have been sorely disappointed with its output so far (*cough* Final Fantasy XIII *cough*) will be very happy to learn that Ni No Kuni is a thorough success. 

Before getting into the all-important issue of how the game actually plays, the presentation of Ni No Kuni deserves special mention. Let’s start with the in game graphics. This is hands down  one of the most beautiful game currently available on the PS3. While others may boast more realistic facial features or destructible environments, Ni No Kuni oozes charm and attention to detail from every pore.  There is so much care put in every environment, from the expansive world map to the most routine of dungeons that players will want to often stop and rotate the camera just to get a load of the scenery. This extends to the characters, who are simple yet emotive, and all animated perfectly.  

The treats don’t stop there, as the game also boasts a great voice cast to carry the story and infuse the characters with life. While the main character Oliver, might shout “Neato” too many times, the voice cast is more than capable, with a wide variety of accents  and dialects to keep listeners entertained. Rising above all other performers is Mr Drippy, your magical companion who guides you through his world. His Welsh accent is a joy to listen to, and his local idioms add a lot of humor into the game. In fact, one of the minor quibbles with the game is that is doesn’t employ its voice cast enough, and instead uses text for the bulk of its dialogue. People will also be happy to learn that the audio track can be switched to its original Japanese as well. 

The musical score of the game is a thing of beauty. Composed by Joe Hisaishi and brought to life by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, every track is a winner and makes the game feel like playing through an epic movie. 

Let’s move on to the story. People expecting something as wonderful as a Studio Ghibili film may be a little disappointed, as the story is rather basic. Oliver is a 13 year old boy brought into a magical world charged with a quest to save this alternate world, while also finding a way to bring his recently departed mother back to life. While the story itself may be a little clichéd, it will not matter too much as the world itself is so full of whimsy that it will paper over the narrative cracks.  

Players looking for a traditional JRPG experience will find a lot to like in Ni No Kuni. Players move from town to town on a world map (yay!), while fighting monsters and advancing the plot. Each town will contain a variety of sidequests that will lead to combat and status bonuses. The sidequests range from bounty hunts, where Oliver will be charged with taking down a particularly nasty monster to more traditional fetch quests. Most of the sidequests are fairly simple and involve bringing one item to another location, they also involve a fair amount of backtracking. Luckily, they keep from getting too frustrating as completing the sidequests means spending more time in this wonderful world and also leads to all important character upgrades. 

The battle system is a very robust system, although it may not seem it at first. The first hour of the game just features Oliver hitting creatures with a stick and maybe the odd spell, but eventually access to Familiars is granted and the system opens up considerably. Familiars are monsters that Oliver summons in battle to do his bidding. This grants you an additional wealth of battle strategy and abilities to cast. Familiars level up with Oliver, which grants them new skills. They can also be fed treats, which will boost their attributes and eventually leads them to morph into new forms via the use of special gems. Once you get your second party member you will also learn how to catch new Familiars, which means that any enemy fought in battle can hypothetically be added to your stable.

Experimenting with different familiars and abilities leads to a deep and satisfying combat experience. It is also worth mentioning that despite its child like visuals, this game is hard, very hard without the right preparation. Each new area features an upscale in difficulty that will require some grinding to pass through with comfort. It is recommended that before entering one of the games many dungeons, to spend some time leveling the characters, as otherwise the inevitable boss battle will probably wipe the floor with Oliver and co. While this might seem like unnecessary padding, RPG fanatics will get a kick out of it and it gives the game a sense of reward for every boss battle survived. 

Final Level

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a special game and a rare beast in the current console generation. A traditional Japanese RPG with a deep and rewarding gameplay experience with a level of polish reserved for the biggest of franchises.  Even if level grinding and monster catching is outside your comfort level, this game is worth checking out. Once you spend a few hours with Oliver, Mr. Drippy and his friends you will not be able to put Ni No Kuni down.


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