Review by Drizzy_Drizake
"An unforgettable adventure"
Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch is one of the greatest JRPG's I have played in a very long time. While it is not without faults it is overall an amazing experience. Ni No Kuni follows a young boy named Oliver whose mother dies of a heart attack at the start of the game. Oliver completely shuts down in despair until a doll his mother once gave him, named Drippy, magically comes to life. Drippy offers Oliver a chance to bring his mother back to life by traveling to his home, which is a whole different world. Oliver is then thrust into a quest to stop the evil Shadar who this new world is constantly in danger of. On the surface it may seem like a typical good versus evil story, but look beyond that and you get an emotional tale about how to deal with loss and other hardships life throws at you. It's a very touching story that can appeal to both young and old in different ways.
Most will say the game plays like a cross between the Tales series and Pokemon which is an accurate description. The world is filled with hundreds of monsters, known as familiars, for you to catch and do battle with. Familiars are, for the most part, all very well balanced and whichever ones you wish to put on your team will be perfectly capable of carrying you through the whole game. Each of your party members are allowed three to use at a time and you are allowed three more for backup. The rest are stored away for whenever you want to take them out though you really will not need to catch that many unless you just want to have fun catching the most you can. A minor annoyance though is how you catch these familiars. A familiar can only be caught if it falls in love with you which happens randomly by defeating one in battle. So if there is a specific one you want you may end up having to fight it dozens of times until you get lucky. Battling itself is very fun and quite deep once you really get into it. As I said each member gets three familiars, but you may only use one at a time so things are not too out of control. At any time in battle you can switch between the human characters or one of their familiars to control. Each has their own set of unique abilities, strengths, and weaknesses that you will need to manage based on what the situation calls for. For the most part you will only be controlling familiars as the human characters tend to pale in comparison to their stats until very late in the game.
Don't let the look of the game fool you either. You may be playing as children controlling a group of adorable monsters, but this game is very challenging. If you choose not to be strategic and just spam attack you will likely find yourself on the losing end of many battles. This goes especially for the bosses they can present an incredible challenge, but never to the point of being unfair. If you think smart and make good use of your party you will be able to overcome these battles. It's all an extremely enjoyable experience and all the creatures and bosses look fantastic. Now there a few other small complaints I have. First off, you will encounter familiars on the world map and in dungeons wandering around for you to see. However, if you are low on health or just plain don't feel like fighting it's near impossible to avoid encounters with any of them as they run extremely fast and will almost always catch you when they spot you. Another issue is with the side quests in the game. Each town is filled with NPCs to given tons of quests for you to undertake, but almost none are anything beyond your typical "find this item" or "kill this monster" quests. The only ones that could have been fun are the quests to help the brokenhearted. The villain Shadar has removed pieces of the hearts of people all over the world and only Oliver has the power to find the missing pieces they need and return them to normal. But other than a few more interesting moments in the main story this means talking to a brokenhearted NPC, having Drippy tell you exactly what they are missing so that you do not need to think at all, and then walking a few feet to another NPC who has what they need. It's all very pointless. Not a huge issue, but it would have been nice to see more creative side quests in a game like this.
The world of Ni No Kuni is absolutely gorgeous and filled with a large variety of environments. During your travels you will encounter everything from a magical forest to a city dominated by machinery. Things never get stale with such a wonderful variety of locations to visit. The game has many towns to visit each full of life and unique. Along with the gorgeous environments the musical score accompanying the game is also very impressive. It's a full on orchestra at all times and wonderfully fits the mood of whatever is happening. Voice acting in then game is for the most part very good, but it's also one of the game's biggest flaws. Once you get past a certain point rather early on in the game voice acting begins to become extremely rare. The main story goes from a fully voiced adventure to be almost entirely text for many hours. What makes it worse is that the game constantly makes a very jarring switch between these two. At times a text scene will suddenly become voiced, but only for maybe a line or two before shifting back to text. Sometimes the text will only be interrupted for characters to voice a scream or a single word before going back to text. It's a very odd design choice that I've never seen before and it gets really frustrating. I'm sure some players will not be bothered by this, but for most I imagine this will be quite annoying. Still far from a game breaker though.
So while the game is not perfect it is pretty darn close. A few minor issues hold it back, but for the most part Ni No Kuni is incredibly fun and you will not want to put it down. I highly recommend this game as a buy. The main story will take you somewhere around forty hours to complete, but doing everything there is will take you far beyond that. This game was a wonderful journey I hated to see end and you should pick it up right now!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/30/13
Game Release: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (US, 01/22/13)
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