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S&S Review: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Title: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Format: PS3
Release Date: January 22, 2012
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Level-5
Price: $59.99
ESRB Rating: E

Ni No Kuni is game by Level-5, one of the most prestigious developers around. Ever since I saw the first screenshots and promotional videos for the game, I knew I had to play it. I am always looking for a good RPG to play, and that's exactly what I found. The game shattered all my expectations for it, and right from the start, it just blew me away.
Story and Presentation: 
When you discuss and experience Ni No Kuni's charming story, you can't help but smile with joy. The narrative follows the journey of a young boy named Oliver, a resident of Motorville. Oliver suddenly goes through a tragic family accident where he loses his mother, and he's just stricken with grief. Oliver is a lot different than other JRPG characters I've controlled. He shows manners, he cares about people, and he's not the overbearing, all-powerful badass that has no equal. He's just a boy who wants to help not only himself, but the people he comes across throughout his journey. The story sets off as you enter the alternate world, and I don't want to spoil anymore of the narrative. The developers really conjured up an engaging and moving story that really pulls you in, and never lets go. With each new character and area you visit, you feel that much more attached to Oliver, the character interaction is that good. What can you say about the game's visuals that hasn't been said already, the game is beautiful, inside and out. Studio Ghibli is famous for animating these beautiful stories and characters, and bringing them to life. The screenshot above gives you just a glimpse into wonderfully animated world. The game constantly surprise you, the camera will span out so you can gaze at one vista, and that'll blow you away. Then shortly after that, you're in a completely different area, and the next environment will stun you as well. This is one of those games that, if you see a random screenshot from the game's world, you'll instantly know that this is Ni No Kuni. The game's voice acting is stellar as well, from Oliver's boyish charm, to Mr. Drippy's lovable wit, the voice acting breathes new personality into these characters. I knew that it would be hard to overtop the game's graphics, but the soundtrack does come close. The orchestral score definitely places itself atop the early list of best soundtracks of 2013. The presentation in Ni No Kuni is one of the best I've seen in awhile, and that's always a plus.
Core Gameplay:

There's no question that this game is a JRPG, and it pulls inspiration from older and newer titles in the genre. The most obvious inspiration being Pokemon, you can also see a bit of the Tales' game in here as well. The combat system really puts it's focus on battling the creatures you capture, the more you battle with them, the more they level up and become stronger. They can even evolve into stronger forms. Sounds pretty familiar doesn't it? These creatures are called Familiars. You can also equip them with different pieces of armor. The combat will definitely take some time to get used to, but it'll become pretty familiar in the first couple of hours. Just like any other JRPG, the game is pretty lengthy. Besides the linear story quests, there are a number of side quests, or Errands, that can easily double your playthrough time. The side quests run the standard JRPG gambit, "fetch" me this, or "do this" for me. Ni No Kuni's charm really impacts the Errands, making them worthwhile and memorable. Who can forget about the side quest where you have to give a guard some enthusiasm, because he had his heart broken. You can also complete Hunts, where you basically kill of a specific enemy, these are similar to Wanted ads in other games. Each one of these quests will earn you rewards, in the form of stamps. You have a Merit Card, and the tougher the quest, the more stamps you get on your card. When you get 10 stamps, you can turn in your card for a special reward. Then you can start fresh with a new card. The way the game decided to reward you creates an addicting experience, pushing you to complete more quests so you can turn in your Merit Cards.
Final Thoughts: 
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a fantastic game, this has been one of the most hyped games this year. In my opinion, not only has it lived up to it's high expectations, it has surpassed them. From it's pristine visuals, to the addictive gameplay, you can't go wrong here. Oliver's journey is an incredible one, and it shouldn't be missed.
S&S Rating: 9.5/10

5 comments: Leave Your Comments

  1. Josh Teixeira1/24/2013

    Glad to see this game is doing so well. I can't wait to play it!

  2. Spahar1/25/2013

    Nice review again! I was very excited when this game was announced. The visuals are stunning, but I have second thoughts about the battle system. In the demo it seemed to me a little slow paced.

  3. Thanks again! I didn't find the combat slow, later in the game it definitely sped up.

  4. charly951/27/2013

    I don't generally like jrpg's but I might just give it a try. Great review.