When pondering how to begin the analysis of Level Five’s developed JRPG Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, I felt a cheerful yet unaccustomed sensation when arranging my thoughts and feelings. Straight away, I felt Ni No Kuni was an experience unlike any other. A mysterious realization crept up slowly as I delved deeper into the rich and evolving game until it became clear as day: throughout all my wonderful time with Ni No Kuni, I had scarcely anything negative to say (and I mean anything). This revelation of creative mastery dumbfounded me beyond mere shock, my reward from Ni No Kuni was much more than I could ever have hoped for.
Rarely ever does one come across a game which leaves an individual utterly speechless in its near perfect execution. Engaging and progressing through Ni No Kuni, I became increasingly aware that all aspects of my gaming personality were heavily immersed. My artistic side was always occupied with enchanting melodies, soundtracks, and stunningly-colourful Studio Ghibli designed wonders. Alternatively the gamer in me was addicted to the excellent JRPG fusion mechanics of both old and new gameplay, some tricks we sadly haven’t witnessed in a long time. My story-driven inner child was hopelessly connected from day one to the beautifully woven and emotional tale of the unlikely hero Oliver and his friends.
Ni No Kuni can be labelled as charmingly adorable, with lip trembling emotion a constant presence throughout. Frankly, it is everything an epic tale should strive to be. To put things into perspective, you have two opening difficulty choices; one is the usual normal gameplay with all aspects emphasized, and the other labelled for those who just want to enjoy the narrative, practically ignoring the gameplay entirely. If any other game presented such an option, it would provide a negative general consensus with hardly a second glance. However in Ni No Kuni, it makes perfect sense. The story of wizard Oliver and the strange world he roams has been flawlessly designed, an immaculate masterpiece of creativity and originality. It is quite simply, a stellar achievement for gaming narratives across the ages.
You will care deeply about Oliver, an ordinary young boy who is suddenly thrust into heart wrenching situations and unknown lands. All it took was the first 20 or so minutes of gameplay, with the help of amazing Studio Ghibli animation, for it to become apparent that I already cared about young Oliver. His portrayed innocence is completely overpowering, and makes you feel almost protective over him. I immediately wished him every sense of success during his struggles, with his outcome certainly important to me. This connection with Oliver, and all the characters for that matter, only intensifies going forward. This relatable nature is applicable across all ages, as Ni No Kuni does a great job of glossing over any mature themes that present themselves across your large adventure, understandable only for attentive adults. The excellently delivered lines and dialogue mixed with an intriguing and touching story results in an emotionally moving, marvelous narrative structure. Ni No Kuni’s heroes pour their hearts out, and as a result they pull at yours.
The gameplay of Ni No Kuni is a breath of fresh air in its ability to combine classic and inventive ideas. In Pokemon style fashion, Oliver and his party will acquire creatures called familiars (with humorous culture references) which they will use to battle, level up and much like Ni No Kuni itself, evolve.
With the inclusion of more party members, each having their own set of familiars, a tactics option is made available to control AI decisions. Here is where the classic and adored RPG style kicks in. The battles become less of a brawl, and more a strategic war. You choose the general, and send your soldiers in the chosen direction for battle. At times however, it’s to your advantage to take control of Oliver or his friends themselves for use of spells or provisions. The choice is entirely yours to make, Ni No Kuni’s gameplay is the epitome of customization.
As one might expect from the legendary Studio Ghibli, the anime scenes are incredible to behold and can easily be mistaken for high-grade films. This also represents Ni No Kuni’s visuals across the entire game, creating one of (if not) the best looking games I have ever had the privilege of experiencing.
Traveling across a world map, old school style has never been such a delight. Landscapes such as deserts, forests, cities, beaches, coves and many others, all provide their own atmosphere and alternate appearance yet maintain that elevated level of visual finesse. Accompanied by an incredible orchestral score by Joe Hisaishi, journeying around the world is a thing of beauty. So beautiful in fact that, luckily for all who have heard the exquisite tunes, the games soundtrack is set for release in a few months. Exploring this new world is a pleasure for both your eyes and ears, as you absorb the exquisite Ni No Kuni sights and sounds.
One aspect of gameplay which helps lift the game to such a high level is that Ni No Kuni literally always looks after you as a gamer. It never leaves you high and dry. Oliver’s sidekick, Mr. Drippy, is the living embodiment of such considerations. The king of the fairies consistently reminds Oliver, and by extension the players, of what you should be doing and helpful preparations for what may lie head. This is especially evident when an entirely new gameplay element is introduced that appears daunting.
Mr. Drippy reassures Oliver (also the player) with extensive tutorials and reassurances that although your options appear vast, it will all quickly become simple with enough practice. The feelings of players are always considered, whether it’s a new aspect of gameplay, control scheme or a reaction to story related happenings. This thoughtfulness directly translates through Mr. Drippy’s actions, making everyone feel comfortable and in control.
I can honestly say I was never bored playing Ni No Kuni. There is always something interesting to do, familiars to tame, wonderful images to witness and high quality animations to take in. I had to actively force myself to stop playing, or I would never have put it down. Even once I reached the epic conclusion, after a long 50+ hours, I had an insatiable appetite for more. Which thankfully, came in the form of numerous side quests. If I wasn’t actively playing Ni No Kuni, I was thinking about it or discussing it with gamers. It certainly takes a special game to not only occupy your console constantly, but also your thoughts and time outside of the gaming sphere.
You may not have heard of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, but rest assured, you should take notice and study up. Level-5′s epic adventure does everything right. JRPG gameplay, visuals, music and story are all flawlessly executed and fused together. From the adorable beginning all the way to the amazing concluding vocal rendition of the games musical theme, Ni No Kuni captures your heart and refuses to let go. It’s quite fitting that Ni No Kuni revolves around mending broken hearts, as its deep emotional tone provides a feeling that is almost indescribable in its beauty. Adorable, charming and epic, it serves as a perfect story for young and old alike, and presents an even better video game.