Reply
Jan 28 2013
By: PapaWarlock PlayStation MVP 11007 posts
Offline

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - My Review

[ Edited ]
22 replies 855 views Edited Jan 29, 2013

Game Title: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Developer: Level-5 & Studio Ghibli
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Platform: PS 3
Release: January 22, 2012
Genre:  Role Playing Game
Multiplayer: No
Rating: E
Score: 10/10

 

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is the collaboration between famed Level-5 developer and anime powerhouse Studio Ghibli. First announced in 2008 it was released in Japan November 2011; January 22, 2013 for the North American market and February 1, 2013 for the European markets.

 

Beware this is a rather lengthy review so I’ll give a brief summary of the pros and cons here. Bear in mind not everyone will agree on which of these are good or bad points. In my opinion having a lot of text is not a bad thing, but for others it is a drawback.

Pros:

  • Japanese or English Voice Acting
  • Several languages for text script
  • Gorgeous visuals
  • Lovely music
  • Light humor
  • Engaging characters
  • Quests that actually net you some worthwhile rewards
  • Great story
  • Crafting
  • Monster collecting. Each with different abilities, strengths and weaknesses that impact the ebb and flow of combat.

Cons:

  • Large amounts of text reading
  • Young characters
  • Combat abilities on cool down timers

Japanese RPG fans can finally rejoice, after years of decent or lackluster Japanese developed RPGs, Ni No Kuni raises the bar for what an RPG should be. It draws upon the glory days of the RPG genre, gorgeous visuals, fun combat, and an engaging storyline. While some of the “great” studios are resting on their laurels and milking their existing franchises, Level-5 gives us a fresh, new IP; one that is destined to become a classic.

 

The story in Ni No Kuni follows Oliver, a young boy who is on a mission to try to save his mother. As with many of the older RPGs you are start off solo and eventually are joined by other characters that will help you. Oliver is a refreshing change of pace as far as main characters go. He is young, about 8 years old. He gets along well with his mother, he a very polite youngster and he’s not on a quest for revenge or power. Throughout the story, Oliver will meet many people who are suffering from what is called “broken heartedness.” These people are lacking something vital such as courage, belief, restraint, or kindness. There are 8 traits in all and each one will cause people different troubles.

 

Sometimes the fix is relatively easy such as finding a person in town who has an abundance of that trait. Sometimes that requires you to travel back to Motorville to help fix what’s wrong.  His companions ultimately join him after they’ve been helped themselves.

The story is very refreshing. I am so used to story lines that revolve around revenge or saving the world from Aliens and so forth. The main hero is usually “manly”, carries a big weapon; the attitudes usually run the gauntlet from cocky and brash to arrogant or angst filled. Yes you will save the world as Oliver, but you’re also trying to save your mother. There is a certain level of innocence to the game that gives Ni No Kuni a unique feeling to it.

 

I’ve also enjoyed the various twists and turns with the names of people and places. With names like Cowlipha, Moltaan, Ding Dong Dell, King Thom (a tomcat), King Hickory Dock XVII, Abull, Whackrabbot, Whippersnapper, Mt. Smokey and so forth, catching the nods is as much fun as figuring them out.

 

Long time gamers will recognize the various influences in Ni No Kuni. Combat flows in a similar fashion to the older styled Final Fantasy games that used the Active Time Battle system. Combat is not just simple button mashing. You do have to pay attention to your allies. You can set the AI tactics for each of your party members and you can take control of each one if there is something specific you need done, such as using Swaine’s Mugshot ability to try stealing from the enemies.  Abilities have minor cool down timers, which admittedly can be annoying from time to time.

 

There is also a Tales like aspect to the combat. You can move around the mini battlefield trying to get an advantage on your opponents such as attacking a weak spot behind the Boss, an elemental weakness or dodging an attack to gain bonus health or magic “glims.” (Glims are battle drops during the fight that can restore some health, some mp or even a rare Golden glim that gives whoever picks it up full HP and an MP free special attack.)

 

There is also a Pokémon styled monster collection going on in Ni No Kuni. As you explore the world of Ni No Kuni you will have the opportunity to tame most of the monsters you come across. Sometimes it may take several fights to get the opportunity to tame the one you’re after. While monster collecting is a part of the game, you will usually stick with a small group of monsters that will net you an overall strong balance of attack (magical and physical), defense and healing.

 

In Ni No Kuni there are also some mini games that you can partake in. After a certain point in the story line a Casino opens up, as well as a Coliseum type fight. Both offer their own unique rewards that can’t be obtained any other way in the game such as a Gold Plated Tin-Man familiar ticket from the Casino.

 

In the Casino, you have 4 games to play; Slots, Blackjack, Platoon and Double Cross. Slots and Blackjack are both standard issue mini games. Platoon is a take on the card game “War”. You get a set of 10 cards and you have to form 5 “armies”. Double Cross is a test of hand to eye coordination. In Double Cross you control both Oliver and Esther as you move each one through an obstacle course of dropping plates. It sounds easy until you realize that you are controlling each character independently with the analog sticks. Moving the left stick moves Oliver and moving the right stick controls Esther.  It can be both frustrating and rewarding at the same time.

 

There is also an alchemy crafting system where you can upgrade items and make new ones all together. Similar to previous Level-5 RPGs (Dragon Quest VIII, IX, Rogue Galaxy, Jeanne D’Arc) you have an alchemy pot but you also have a genie within the alchemy pot. You first must prove your right to be an alchemist by defeating the Genie in the Pot. From there you can either copy down recipes that are available in the Wizard’s Guide or follow directly from known formula.

 

Like old school RPGs there is a top down isometric world view to explore the game through. Level-5 has decided to forgo the recent trend of over the shoulder 3rd person view or 1st person point of view. This helps give it an old school feel, yet the graphics are modern.

 

Most of us are familiar with side quests. Level-5 does something unique with their side quests.  Merit stamps. Yes, merit stamps. Completing the various side quests will net you guilders (the game's currency) and items but most importantly merit stamps. Each card holds 10 stamps. As they are filled up, you can redeem these cards from the shop for various merits or perks. Some of them aren't really that impressive such as running a tad bit faster or being able to jump, but others are much better such as saving 10% in shops, bonus xp, and being able to automatically collect all the glims after battle.

 

Ni No Kuni is a very gorgeous game. At times it’s almost hard to remember that I’m not playing an anime movie. The cut scenes look like an anime movie and at time just moving through the world I get the feeling that I am in the middle of a movie.

 

The music is just as enthralling as the rest of the game. The voice acting is done well. You have the option for a few different text languages like English and French. You can also choose from English or Japanese Voice Acting. Not everything is voice acted, so be prepared to do a lot of reading.

 

Overall I have enjoyed my time in Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. Everything I’ve experienced has been flawless. It’s rare that I give a game a perfect score, but Level-5 and Studio Ghibli have done an excellent job of fusing several great ideas together to make the perfect game. It is a breeze of freshness that is sorely lacking in today’s gaming world.

Please use plain text.
Message 1 of 23 (855 Views)
Reply
PlayStation MVP
Registered: 09/05/2012
Offline
7144 posts
 

Re: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - My Review

Jan 29, 2013
Im gonna have to give this game a try i love the way its top down, reminds me of the old days. are there different languages besides japanese and english for voice acting or is there only different languages for the text script?

HEARTFIVEFOURTEEN.png


_____________________ - = Share the Greatness with PlayStation= - ______________________

Please use plain text.
Message 2 of 23 (834 Views)
Reply
0 Likes
PlayStation MVP
Registered: 04/18/2007
Offline
11007 posts
 

Re: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - My Review

Jan 29, 2013

FiveFourteen wrote:
Im gonna have to give this game a try i love the way its top down, reminds me of the old days. are there different languages besides japanese and english for voice acting or is there only different languages for the text script?

Just the 2 voice acting options. I believe there's 5 languages for the text.

Please use plain text.
Message 3 of 23 (821 Views)
Reply
0 Likes
Fender Bender
Registered: 04/17/2008
Offline
4292 posts
 

Re: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - My Review

Jan 29, 2013

Good review. I'm hoping to get it today but am not counting on it. I have never been lucky enough to get a game before it's release.

Please use plain text.
Message 4 of 23 (812 Views)
Reply
0 Likes
PlayStation MVP
Registered: 02/25/2012
Offline
888 posts
 

Re: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - My Review

Jan 30, 2013

Well written review that is spot on. Level-5 really has something special here. They've raised the bar and hopefully other Japanese developers will follow suit and craft a genuinely solid love letter to JRPG fans.

 

How many hours did you clock in and do you plan on going for platinum?

 photo wizard_zps4173ab5c.png
Please use plain text.
Message 5 of 23 (793 Views)
Reply
0 Likes
PlayStation MVP
Registered: 07/30/2007
Online
3934 posts
 

Re: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - My Review

Jan 30, 2013

Well, thanks to you, I finally caved in and bought myself a copy today.  Hmph!:smileymad:  I'm kidding.:smileytongue:  I've seen a number of reviews, and have heard so much buzz about the game that I actually decided it sounds wonderful, despite not caring too much for the demo.  :smileyhappy:  You've definitely helped contribute to all of that though.  Maybe I'll even play it and join in on the progress thread.  Happy?:smileyvery-happy:

Please use plain text.
Message 6 of 23 (789 Views)
Reply
0 Likes
Gaming Beast
Registered: 09/07/2006
Online
2352 posts
 

Re: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - My Review

[ Edited ]
Jan 30, 2013

Great review PapaWarlock.  I just got my game and hard cover Prima guide from Amazon and can't wait to start playing.  I love RPGs and JRPGs and it's nice to see a really, really good rpg come out.  I hope that this game sells well and that they make lots of sequels.  Hopefully Ni No Kuni will inspire Japanese companies to make PS3 rpgs that actually look and play like a PS3 game (not a PS2 game).

Please use plain text.
Message 7 of 23 (785 Views)
Reply
0 Likes
PlayStation MVP
Registered: 04/18/2007
Offline
11007 posts
 

Re: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - My Review

Jan 30, 2013

tross88 wrote:

Well, thanks to you, I finally caved in and bought myself a copy today.  Hmph!:smileymad:  I'm kidding.:smileytongue:  I've seen a number of reviews, and have heard so much buzz about the game that I actually decided it sounds wonderful, despite not caring too much for the demo.  :smileyhappy:  You've definitely helped contribute to all of that though.  Maybe I'll even play it and join in on the progress thread.  Happy?:smileyvery-happy:


I won't be happy until you're actually in teh progress thread :smileyvery-happy:

Please use plain text.
Message 8 of 23 (780 Views)
Reply
0 Likes
PlayStation MVP
Registered: 04/18/2007
Offline
11007 posts
 

Re: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - My Review

Jan 30, 2013

W1Z4RDRY wrote:

Well written review that is spot on. Level-5 really has something special here. They've raised the bar and hopefully other Japanese developers will follow suit and craft a genuinely solid love letter to JRPG fans.

 

How many hours did you clock in and do you plan on going for platinum?


I'm somewhere in the 50 hour range and I do plan to get the Platinum. I'm by no means done with everything the game has to offer.

Please use plain text.
Message 9 of 23 (778 Views)
Reply
0 Likes
PlayStation MVP
Registered: 02/25/2012
Offline
888 posts
 

Re: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - My Review

Jan 30, 2013

This could be a platinum project for me. It would be my first but the main trophy that sticks out as really time consuming is taming 250 monsters. We'll see how it goes.

 

Ya know if I didn't have the guide I probably wouldn't find a fraction of the hidden chests.

 photo wizard_zps4173ab5c.png
Please use plain text.
Message 10 of 23 (770 Views)
Reply
0 Likes