Genre: Japanese Role Playing Game
Platform: Playstation 3
Developer: Level 5
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Released: January 22nd 2013
A japanese role playing game releasing on a home console has become quite a rare event during this generation. The decline of the genre is something probably very few could have anticipated but, with the newest big productions being incredibly shallow coupled with the inability to truly innovate the genre, the end result was almost a given. With Square Enix games being the first in loosing qualities, a lot of good brands have faded into obscurity, making the Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Tales Of series and a few other franchises the only Role Playing Game series to truly survive this generation. With Ni No Kuni, Level 5 has tried to make a role playing game that would stand out from the norm, and not only thanks to the unique design offered by Studio Ghibli but also thanks to the gameplay experience and characters and plot elements. Let’s not beat around the bush folks: Ni No Kuni is a fantastic game and will end up being the best role playing game of this generation and not because of the competition but for his own merits.
- The Adventure Begins
One of the strongest points of the game is the plot and all the elements surrounding it. Despite looking almost childish to some players, Studio Ghibli’s design is absolutely perfect and it complements the plot elements in the best possible way: if you love the Studio Ghibli movies, you’ll love Ni No Kuni as well since you’ll be feeling like you’re watching one of them. The story’s premise is simple but likeable: Oliver adventures in the world of Ni No Kuni after his mother dies. Oliver actually comes to know that there’s a way to save his mother from a doll, who actually is a creature from the other world: his journey will be a fantastic one, where Oliver personality really shines. The characters are all likeable, starting from Oliver himself: he doesn’t fall in the usual anime tropes of late, he’s likeable, friendly, gets along with everyone and has no complexion of sorts. During his journey all his traits will make all the events of the game even more enjoyable as his own gentle heart will fix everything that’s wrong with both worlds: he’s not on a journey to find himself or anything of the sort. A great change of pace that makes the story a truly memorable one. There are some predictable twists here and there but they don’t manage to damage the experience at all.
- Familiars always get to do the dirty work
The battle system of Ni No Kuni has been masterfully crafted, being easy to understand but harder to master, including so many little things that make it truly deep and engaging. The many features of the battle system won’t be thrown at you one after the other: players will have plenty of time to get accustomed to them before having another one introduced. In the beginning, Oliver will be alone and will be able to attack enemies with his weapons, use a few spells, defend and escape. During the game Oliver will be joined by tow other characters and familiars, monsters that can be captures, tamed and trained: each characters can be bring up to three familiars in battle and each one has a specific use. Creating a well balanced team is the key to victory in the game since battles can become quite hard if you don’t know what you’re doing. Battle are played in real time with the game only slowing down when choosing commands: characters placement will be of great importance when fighting. The only thing that could have been done better is the AI: you can only control a single character during battle, while the others will be controlled by the CPU. Let’s not hide it, AI characters are totally dumb in this game, often using the wrong attacks and the wrong familiars. You can use some special commands that will make them defend or attack but other than this, making the other characters perform well in a battle is an almost impossible task. This problem was also present in the japanese version of the game and it’s a shame that Level 5 didn’t use the extra time to correct the issue. Other than this, the battle system is truly enjoyable and engaging.
- A Master Familiar Trainer
If the talk of familiars made you think about Pokemon you’re not the only one since Level 5 took a lot from the Game Freak games: you’ll be able to train familiars by making them eat certain foods and improve specific characteristics and improve the relationship with each character. At the same time familiars can evolve in three different forms: once evolved, they’ll go back to level 1 but with new affinities and skills. The familiars are classified by elements and follow a rock-paper-scissor pattern in battles. Catching them will probably be harder than catching Pokemons: there a set percentage that a familiar will join you after defeating them in battle. Another excellent subsystem that doesn’t show any glaring flaw.
- Hardcore battling and exploration
Despite its excellent looks which could throw some players off, Ni No Kuni can be a challenging experience: dungeons are full of traps, boss battles require some preparation and even a bit of grinding, you don’t get any free healing at the end of each battle and so on. It’s almost as if you’re playing a japanese role playing game from the 90s, and that’s a good thing in my opinion. Together with the story, players will have a lot of sidequests to do, all relevant to the overall plot and one more reason to explore the game’s world and its excellent graphics and soundtrack. If you have seen any footage from the game you already know the quality of the game’s graphics and soundtrack: it’s a really high quality work, on par with the best Studio Ghibli movies.
- Final Thoughts
Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch is an excellent role playing game and an experience no player should skip, even those who don’t like the genre too much. There’s a lot of quality behind this game and every aspect has been masterfully developed, making the whole package really tight: you’ll love the characters, the plot, the world, the battle system and all the subsystems included by Level 5. It’s probably the first true next gen japanese role paying game, taking the best of the 90s to create a new and unique experience.
- Great graphics and soundtrack
- Excellent characters and story
- Fun and engaging battle system
- Lots of content and sub quests
- Familiar system works great
- All the subsystems are functional to the game
- Dumb AI during battle
- Some small predictable plot twists
9.0 out of 10
Article from Gamersyndrome.com