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Game Review: Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch
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Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
PlayStation 3
Planning/Production: Level-5
Animation: Studio Ghibli
Music: Joe Hisaishi
Release Date: January 22, 2013 (US)

There are some of us out there who pretty much bought a PlayStation 3 for one reason, and playing video games was not the reason. I will admit I basically bought it so I could watch Blu-rays and stream Netflix, without having to have a Gold XBOX Live account. I did get a bundle when I bought it and it came with a copy of Uncharted 2, which I really enjoyed and ended up finishing the story. But that came out a few years ago, but luckily something came out that really got me playing games on my PS3, and that was Ni No Kuni:Wrath of the White Witch.

I did not know too much about this game, other than it was a RPG and that Studio Ghibli was involved. And with Ghibli being involved that was pretty much all i needed to hear. It seems like a pretty big leap of faith, but I guess we shall see if I made the right decision.

I need to point out a few things, I did buy the game on the day it came out, but with one job, plus two sites that I review for, my free time to play video games is minimal — mostly a few hours on the weekend. I haven’t spent 60-70 hours playing this game all the way through. In fact I think I am at roughly 12 hours into the game. But as the title states, I just wanted to give you all my first impressions of the game. And with Tomb Raider coming out on Tuesday, I have a feeling that is going to be my go to game, at least until Bioshock Infinite comes out at the end of the month.

Ni No Kuni Guidebook

So let’s get to the game. I was lucky enough to be working at Gamestop and so I knew about reserving it and getting the special steelbook case, which you can see at the top of the article. We have a pretty cover, let’s see if it’s more than just a pretty cover. I fired up my PS3, and after a system update, I put the disc inside, and guess what, I had to wait about 10-15 minutes as the game downloaded and eventually was able to play it. Well while it was doing all of that, I had also purchased the guidebook (pictured to the right), which is always a smart choice when it comes to RPGs. And it included some free DLC, a gold familiar Hurley, well that was also a mess to redeem.

And we are not off to a good start, already starting to regret my decision. Luckily that was pretty much thrown out the window, as soon as the game fired up. The first time you hear that great music from Joe Hisaishi and the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra all that frustration goes out the door, and that’s just the title screen. Once we get into the game, that is where it really hits on all cylinders, as Level-5 (Professor Layton series for DS and DS3)is able to combine and incorporate animated clips from Studio Ghibli into the game. You can sit back and just enjoy the animation at times and almost forget you are playing a video game.

The Story:

The game revolves around a boy named Oliver, who lives in Motorville, and after the death of his mother (yeah that happens fairly early in the game, talk about a downer) he stumbles upon a magical and smart mouthed fairy named Drippy. I won’t go into too much of the story, but it involves an alternate reality and a Wizard’s book, which is somewhat empty at the beginning, but you receive and recover pages throughout your journey, giving you spells and stories. There may be a way to bring back his mom, but he must go to Drippy’s world and defeat the evil Shadar. It’s a story you have heard before, but so are most games you play now a days, unfortunately.

Gameplay:

But he won’t be alone on this journey, as he has a familiar along with him, which in the long run is basically Pokemon…and yes you will be out trying to catch them all during this game. Being a fan of Pokemon, that is another notch in the pro column for me. You catch them, they level, and they can even evolve and grow even stronger throughout the game.

It’s sort of a turn-based system, although you can run around somewhat freely during battles, to keep your distance to launch spells if needed, or send in your familiar to attack up close. It’s somewhat of a complex system to figure out at first, and when you seem to have it under control, they add in more, when you get another human in your party. But the good news is that the game does a nice job of walking you through the new stuff, making the learning curve not too difficult.

Ni No Kuni Gameplay

The Bad:

Well it is not a perfect game, and there are a few things that have stuck out in my mind. There is voice acting for about 80% of the game, but when it’s not there, it’s really distracting and off-putting at times. I can also say that there was a little lull for me, as I was grinding levels and I was waiting for something to get me back into the game. And then the whole Pokemon aspect showed up and I was once again all aboard for this game. I am hoping there is more to come to help me get over the lull if and when it shows up again. There are plenty of side quests (errands), bounties, and curing people of various emotional states, that also keep you distracted as you go through the level grind.

The Good:

I guess there wasn’t too much to complain about, but that may be partly due to the amazing visual and audio journey as you proceed through the game. I am a huge fan of Studio Ghibli and they really know how to immerse you into this world. We don’t super realistic graphics, as we get a nice cell shaded feel, that pretty much looks straight out of Ghibli film.

Overall Thoughts:

Ni No Kuni Image 3

If you like RPGs or Pokemon, you are going to enjoy this game. This may be a hard sell for those that aren’t fans of either, but maybe the Ghibli influence will be enough to give a chance. Like I said, for me there was a point where I was getting a little bored, but as they add stuff and even more side quests to keep you busy, that won’t be an issue. I am not sure if a rental will do this justice, unless you can spend a few hours really getting into it. I am not dissapointed in buying this game, I hope to really get pretty far into this one, but like I said, I can only concentrate on one game at a time. Ni No Kuni you have my interest for a few more days until Lara Croft comes along and I am off on a new journey.

Trailer

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