Review by dragonkyn20
"This game is what JRPG fans have been waiting for."
I've wanted an exclusive that could give me a reason to be proud of owning a PS3. And now, here in 2013, my prayers have been answered. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch arrived last week in the U.S, and this is without a doubt, THE reason to breathe life into my PS3.
Story: I bet most of you are thinking, oh great, another save the world cliché plot, what could possibly be new in this game that isn't in the hundreds of other titles before it? Well, you would be correct, in that regard. Ni No Kuni does follow that. However, the method that it is delivered is by far the best that I have seen. You play as a young boy named Oliver who journeys to another world in order to bring his mother back from the dead. He meet an array of colorful characters on his quest (such as the fairy known as Drippy, which you will see running behind Oliver in the video provided) as well as various other people who will join him which will eventually culminate into a quest to save the world from darkness.
Graphics: The graphics and visuals for Ni No Kuni were handled by Studio Ghibli, the same group that made Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and various other award-winning films. If you are familiar with Ghibli's work, you will immediately recognize the familiar art style they are known for. The world map, towns, even the animated cutscenes (which you will see throughout the game) are beautiful and of high quality as expected. If you are unfamiliar with Studio Ghibli, I highly suggest watching their movies. Don't worry, I'll wait.
*24 hours later*
See what I mean? Beautiful in every sense of the word, right?
Audio: Mamoru Fujisawa, or better known as Joe Hisaishi, composed the soundtrack for this game. This man is responsible for the gorgeous music of many Studio Ghibli masterpieces, so you know the soundtrack is in good hands. Every song has a purpose and a place in the world of Ni No Kuni (I personally love the world map theme that plays, I can't get enough of it) and they do very well in setting the tone for whatever situation is taking place.
Unfortunately, the voice acting can leave a lot to be desired at times. Sometimes it would feel like the characters are forcing out their lines, which can become a bit hard to listen to.
Gameplay: And now for the meat of the game. This is the first true console RPG since Tales of Vesperia that has given you an actual world to walk around in. And I'm not talking about those stupid ass straight lines in Final Fantasy X/XIII. If there's a place in the world that you want to go to, you can. You see those mountains in the distance? You can reach them. What about that lake nearby? Yes, you can make it there too. Everything that you can lay your eyes on can be reached given that you put forth the effort (except perhaps the sky, but hey, you never know).
Battles are a mix of real-time movement and command selection, somewhat of an action tactical RPG. When you encounter an enemy in a dungeon or on the world map itself, the usual occurs: trapped in a battlefield with the enemy and they must be defeated to claim victory. I really don't need to explain that part to you vets. But that's where the similarities with other JRPGs take a different turn. As you make your way through the game, you gain the ability tame monsters (which will then be called Familiars') and place them into your party to fight with you. However, you must select them by pressing the L1/R1 buttons in order to control them. Familiars can be downright powerful when leveled properly, but they have a limited amount of time that can be spent in the fight and eventually must be swapped out with another or they will be unavailable to use for a time. They also share your HP and MP, so make sure to keep an eye out or you'll be seeing the Game Over screen quite often. Not only can you strengthen your familiars by fighting enemies and leveling up, but you can also feed them treats, which will help boost specific stats. You can only feed so many treats though, so you must fight battles in order for your familiar to become hungry again.
As you progress throughout the game, you eventually unlock menu choices that you can then view at your leisure, the biggest of them being the Wizard's Companion and the Telling Stone.
The Wizard's Companion is a spellbook you find near the beginning of the game that will prove infinitely useful in your adventure. It contains spells, background information, as well as a detailed item encyclopedia. You find pages that can be added to your book as you progress, which eventually opens up more and more entries, as well as unlock new spells which can be used either in battle or in the environment around you.
The Telling Stone is basically Ni No Kuni's equivalent to a progress checking mechanism as well as a tutorial. There is a bestiary, a progress report, and a listing of locations and whatever items you could find there. If you are one of those completionist type of players, the Telling Stone will prove invaluable to you when you check on your progress.
So what's my final verdict on Ni No Kuni? Well apart from the voiceovers, this game is rather solid. Some things may come off as tedious at times (such as the sidequests) but aside from that, this is a must have game for JRPG enthusiasts. It took a while, but now I have a good reason to play on my PS3 again.
I give this game a 9 out of 10.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/28/13
Game Release: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (US, 01/22/13)
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