WeView: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Well here we are, one day later than I’d intended. Regardless of the day of the week, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is this week’s WeView title, and it’s certainly an interesting one.

Coming as a result of a collaboration between Level-5, probably best known for the Professor Layton series, and renowned anime house Studio Ghibli, Ni no Kuni was one of those pesky games that had a release in Japan, then seemed to take forever to make its way over to the West. Despite being released in Japan on the DS in 2010 and on PS3 in 2011, it wasn’t until earlier this year that it finally arrived in the rest of the world.

When Alex took a look at the game, he felt that the game’s RPG core was “hardly the sort of thing that really strives to stand out amongst RPGs,” and if that was all there was to the game then it “would have been a romp like we’ve all seen before.” However, it’s the involvement of Studio Ghibli that makes the game special, something that won’t surprise anyone who followed the game before release.

It’s safe to say that Alex was hugely impressed by the game’s graphical presentation, praising its “stunning animation and a visual style (cel shaded, if you will) that at least attempts to match the pre-rendered video sections.” In fact it’s so impressive that he felt it was “actually something of a shock to find it’s real time” when you take your first steps into the game’s world. He did note that “The graphics aren’t always so impressive close-up and some of the animation (away from the movie sections) feels a little stunted and bitty,” but overall felt it was simply gorgeous.

As for the gameplay, he enjoyed the “mix of linear story progression and non-linear subsections” that comes from the combination of being able to explore the larger world and the more focussed approach to the game’s battle sequences. He also felt that the introduction of magic and Familiars added “a subtle complexity that manages to weld together each and every battle, no matter how trivial.”

The game’s soundtrack was another high point for Alex, which he called “stunning”. Sticking with the audio, the game’s voice acting also gained praise, particularly the choice of a “quick firing Welsh dialect” for Drippy, your companion. He called this decision “close to genius” and felt that it made Drippy “someone you’re more than likely to instantly grow very fond of”.

Ultimately it’s the game’s overall production values that Alex really highlighted. Here’s what he had to say in conclusion:

I’m a big fan of Ni no Kuni. It’s a massive game, and whilst the storyline isn’t going to cause many shocks the way it’s all brought together is beautifully done and it’s great to see such production dedicated to a console like the PlayStation 3.

The question is, of course, how you feel about the game. Do you agree with Alex’s praise of the title, or did you feel that it didn’t live up to your expectations? Did you find the game’s art style simply beautiful, or did it just not click with you?

Whatever you feel about the game, you can share your opinion by dropping a comment below. All we ask is that you include a rating for the game from the Buy It, Bargain Bin It, Rent It, Avoid It scale and add your comment by Sunday afternoon if you want to be included in Monday’s Verdict article.

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21 Comments

  1. Phenomenal game. The story really resonant with me after losing my mother recently and what I would have done to be able to bring her back. I’m a great believer in dreams and try as often as I can to sleep as long as I can to see what happens next. Ni No Kuni is a bit like pokemon but with a much more delicate storyline. A game built to offer the kind of gameplay that pokemon brings but with a much more simple set of sidequests such as most of them are just going to one person, collecting their essence and giving it to someone else.

    The graphics are spectacular and you can really connect with the characters of the game. It is a simple and smooth game to just play through. If anything, the game needed it would be a better ai in battle. They are fine for small battles but when it comes to long boss battles the characters you don’t control are mostly ridiculous at expending their mana so quick that they have to either take potions which you have to give or they just die from being unable to heal themselves and those around them.

    I do not buy any games but this one seriously made me think about whether I should pre-release. If I were to suggest the game to anyone, I would say rent it. But for the purposes of what rent it means in this context I will change my answer to BUY IT.

  2. It looks and sounds great, just as anything involving Studio Ghibli should.

    Add a perfectly acceptable (if not particularly challenging) JRPG game onto that.

    Mix in a fairly typical Ghibli story (so a bit odd, fairly simple and straightforward and nothing that will upset any but the smallest or “most special” children).

    Do an incredible job of translating everything into English (some bits must have been completely rewritten, especially all the puns, but some might have been Western things borrowed by Japanese people that then didn’t need translating much).

    Once you’ve done all that, make sure it’s capable of making a grown man of 41 years grin in places as if he was watching that Totoro film. On his own. Because it makes him grin like a small child. Which I’ve done before. Several times.

    So I guess that’s a “buy it” then. Tidy.

    And knickers to anyone who says otherwise.

  3. I know this won’t be helpful as a WeView but I didn’t pick this up but it is high on my must buy list.
    The sole reason I haven’t got it yet is because I have so much to play and I don’t have the time I’d need to focus on it.

    • I’d say BUY IT! Absolutely brilliant game – got the platinum trophy a couple of weeks ago (134 hrs – should take less but I enjoyed just wandering and battling so much). As mentioned above tho voice acting was top notch if a little under-used.

      So much to see and do. On many occasions especially towards the end, you think you’ve nearly done everything, only for another 10 hours worth quests to appear. BUY IT – it’s the game that keeps on giving (well, until you complete it all that is!)

  4. Let me first say that I played a shy 10 hours so far. I love JRPGs and turn-based ones at that. If you played a Dragon Quest title, the mechanics of Ni no Kuni will feel like second nature, almost everything is extremely similar – except for combat. What level5 did, in my opinion, is eliminate all the unnecessary/frustrating elements (such as waiting on button presses) of most JRPGs giving Ni no Kuni the fluent gameplay it has. During my relatively short time with the game I did not get bored for a second, despite the early stages being slower, especially for JRPG-savy gamers. I kept realizing how impressed I was, not just by the visuals but even more so with the rich content and fluent gameplay. I’d say BUY IT and platinum it, which is what I’ll do the first chance I get.

  5. Buy it from me,I’m 52 hours in and loving it,the game just sucked me in,I personally think the visuals are beautiful,as is the story telling,there is just so much to do and see. It’s now one of my all time favourites,and I keep going back to it.

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