Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch Logo - We Know Gamers

A lot of hype and anticipation has been surrounding Namco Bandai’s, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch when it was announced that the legendary Studio Ghibli would be teaming up with Level-5 to develop the game. While we haven’t been seeing many great JRPG releases as of late, will Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch break that streak? Or is it doomed to repeat the same mistakes that titles in the same genre that came before it have?

Story
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is about a young boy called Oliver, who loses his mother due to heart failure after she saved him from drowning. Deeply saddened by recent events, Oliver’s tears awaken the spirit of a doll which his mother gifted to him. The doll was in fact a fairy called Drippy who goes on to explain that he comes from Ni No Kuni, a world opposite to Oliver’s own and that there’s a chance he could save his mother if he finds her alternate self over there.

The Dream Team!!
Once Oliver agrees to undertake the huge task presented to him, Drippy presents him with a magic book in which he can learn spells from and the two together leave for the world of Ni no Kuni. Throughout the story you meet characters that team up and journey with you on your quest however the good part being that these characters are not just there for filler purposes as they have their own back stories and goals to reach alongside Oliver.

Overall I felt that the story was well thought out and most importantly, kept me engaged the entire time. You meet some interesting and funky characters along the way some of which have some interesting counterparts between both worlds, however none were more impressive than the High Lord of the Fairies himself, Drippy. The way I saw it, there were two halves to the story and unfortunately I didn’t get the same kind of impact from the second half as I did with the first due to it feeling rushed, although the good thing being that all loose ends were tied up as many mysteries are thrown at you from the beginning of the game.

Gameplay
As with most RPG’s, you would expect the gameplay to be fully fleshed out, allowing the player many options to choose from and believe me, Ni No Kuni doesn’t lack anything in that department. When it comes to exploring, the world map is huge as you will be running all around it completing missions, discovering new locations and picking up items you may come across. When outside a town or forest, you see the world from a top down view which allows you to better see any monsters around you. When in a town, the game reverts to a 3rd person view allowing you to take in the environment around you a lot more and creating a better atmosphere with the inclusion of NPC’s and other scripted events.

Interesting main towns and places to visit.
In terms of looking after Oliver and his companions, you have quite a few options available to you. Along with the ability to learn new spells and tricks as you become stronger, you can also buy and equip new weapons and armour to give you an advantage in battle along with using your Cauldron to create new items that can prove very useful when things are not going in your favour. When it comes to actual battle, Ni No Kuni does things slightly differently while it may feel familiar; it also brings a fresh new twist with it. The battles are played out turn based style and at the beginning you start with the standard options; Attack, Defend and Spells. Later on in the game you will have access to team Attack and Defence which opens up a whole other strategic side to your combat, along with the ability to assign tactics to each character fighting alongside you. What I really enjoyed about this, is that unlike the Final Fantasy series where you are stuck in one position, here you can actually move around the battleground with the added incentive of actually dodging an enemy’s physical attack. Some magic attacks can be evaded however most of them track on to you therefore balancing the combat.

One of the interesting parts of Ni No Kuni’s combat is the use of familiars. These Pokemon like creatures are born from the wizard’s heart therefore, naturally meaning that they share the user’s health and magic meter. Each familiar has a stamina gauge which is represented by a yellow circle around their image. It basically shows how long said Familiar can fight for so the longer you keep them on the go, the shorter the stamina gauge will get until eventually its empty and they can fight no longer. To stop this, switch between familiars or whatever character you’re using during battle. There are four signs in total, Sun, Moon, Earth and Stars and so when in battle choosing the correct Familiar with the right sign can go a long way in making things slightly easier and it doesn’t stop there! You can also evolve them into more powerful creatures, allowing them to learn more moves and generally become even tougher. The interesting part here is that when you do evolve a familiar, its level resets back to one meaning that you have to build it up once again, however it doesn’t lose all of its attack and defence capabilities that it built up to that point.

A familiar is a wizard's best friend.
Can’t be bothered to constantly fight enemy after enemy? Why not take part in some of the game’s side quests and help all those people who are in serious need… well they’re not really in need. These come in the form of Errands and Bounty Hunts which you can initially gain access to via the Swift Solutions shop or just by talking to people throughout the different places. They’re great to build up the amount of gold you have, along with picking up more powerful items to use however when it gets to a certain point, it can become pretty repetitive as you find yourself performing similar tasks, multiple times. When one of these side missions is completed, you’re given a reward along with a certain number of stamps for your Merit Card. These can be exchanged for perks which can prove useful in game such as the ability to run faster to get away from 50% of monsters or giving Oliver a jump mechanic which I still haven’t found a decent use for. Funnily enough, even in game it says that it’s pretty useless.

Graphics/Sound
Visually the world of Ni No Kuni is outstanding and fully blurs if not, destroys the line between what we see in Studio Ghibili’s films and how the game presents everything. The world map booms aesthetically making good use of its lighting and colour to create an amazing place to roam in. The characters look great and some of them have the most wacky but interesting designs ever showing good creativity and the ability to express their ideas across with ease. Cutscenes played out well and the animation was pretty top notch, although I felt that there wasn't enough 2D anime cutscenes in which the 3D ones were favoured. I thought that by having a good balance between the two, it would really show off the teamwork between the two studios.

Preferable would have preferred more 2D cutscenes but nonetheless the 3D ones are still brilliant!
Sound is used a great deal here to bring the world of Ni No Kuni to life, from the bustling market of Al-Mamoon to the eerie atmosphere of the Tombstone trail and the epic music that plays when travelling on the World Hub; it seems to have the right tone and atmosphere to fit wherever you are in the game. Voice acting may not be the best at times and Oliver can sometimes sound incredibly unbothered to stop the White Witch however if there is one character in the game that seems to shine when delivering their lines, that would have to be the fairy, Drippy.

Final Verdict
Ni No Kuni is a JRPG that seems to have kept me immersed and interested from beginning to end. With its expansive environments and amazing characters, Level 5 and Studio Ghibli have built a world that intrigues and makes the player want to explore all of it. While I felt that the second half of the story was a bit rushed and yes, I can only feel like stopping the mountain from blowing up a certain amount of times but as an overall package, Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch is simply magical.

Story = 9.5/10
Gameplay = 9.5/10
Graphics/ Sound = 9.5/10

Final We Know Gamers Score = 9.5/10
Had a chance to play the game? Tell us what you thought in the comments section below!
Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch Review
Reviewed by Liban Ali
on Mar 06 2013

Rating: 9.5/10