Ni No Kuni : Wrath Of The White Witch Review
Cart: Ni No Kuni Wrath Of The White Witch
Cab: PS3 / DS
Coin: Level-5 / Studio Ghibli
We need to get one glaringly obvious thing out of the way before we go any further: Ni no Kuni for PS3 is simply gorgeous – absolutely beautiful to look at. With Studio Ghibli producing the hand drawn animation, that is to be expected, but it works so well that it feels like you are playing through a living, breathing cartoon.
The last time I experienced sweeping visuals like this was with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on the humble GameCube. Here, the beautiful looks are wrapped around a traditional RPG that maybe doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the visuals, but it’s still an enjoyable romp in its own right.
Ni no Kuni is a turn based RPG at heart, although there are action elements to be found. The combat system is solid to start with, and seems pretty simple for the first dozen hours of the game, but around halfway through the adventure, a couple of new twists are added that really help with the depth and variety of the combat. The really strange thing is that it takes so long for these additions to show up.
More impressive and expansive is the overworld map. Perhaps I am being fooled by the visuals, but watching the characters scurry around boulders and climb hills really is impressive, and the scale of the cities on the map, when compared to the actual locations, is far more accurate than most games of this type. This really is an overworld that is begging to be explored, with the game slowly revealing its secrets as you explore the map over the course of the 35+ hours you will probably spend with the game.
Playing through the game should be a joy, but there is something here to spoil the party, and that is the Imajinn. These are catchable monsters that you can keep and send into battle in the place of proper party members, and are a key part of the combat and game system, with evolution choices of paramount importance. The problem is, they need feeding, and the feeding process is incredibly slow, with the game forcing you to watch pointless animations every single time you feed the bloody things. Yes, I want to feed you, but no, I don’t want to watch you dance for the umpteenth time.
It made me try to avoid the whole Imajinn side of things, but you really can’t ignore it if you want to get anywhere in the game.
Aside from that, and the fact that crafting is a bit too laborious, Ni No Kuni is a great success, with the astonishing visuals only matched by the lovely soundtrack. The excellent sense of exploration, wonderful locales and interesting story are only held back a little by the frustrating monster raising and a combat system that is solid but uninspiring.
Overall though, these complaints will not be the things you will recall when you look back on your time with Ni no Kuni, as you will no doubt just remember the time you played through a Studio Ghibli movie.
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Editor and founder of VoxelArcade and The Smartphone App Review. Favourite games: Uridium 2, Frontier: Elite II, Sensible World of Soccer, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Ocarina, Metroid Prime, Solar Quest, F-Zero GX, Monkey Island 2 and Tetris.