Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Review
- Posted January 21st, 2013 at 08:30 EDT by Steven Williamson
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If the dazzling production values don't win you over, the storyline, characters and engaging combat will.
- Looks and sounds amazing. Dazzling art-design and musical score.
- Strong storyline that has genuine moments where you'll feel touched.
- Engaging battle system that grows in challenge.
- Side-quests involving spells offer little challenge. You're just going through the motions.
- Can be irritating when you just want to go from A to B quickly, but weak enemies keep attacking.
(continued from previous page) ...complete Ni No Kuni, so don’t know exactly how it all pans out, but I’m loving the plot so far, which is made all the better by the wacky characters that you can interact with and some excellent voice acting. The animated sequences blend in with gameplay flawlessly and, much like the brilliant Okami, it feels like you’re walking through the pages of a book, or starring in your own anime film. From the outset, this is an engaging fantasy tale full of drama, emotion and humour, one which has swept me away alongside its charming soundtrack.
As you’d expect from an RPG, gameplay involves a fair bit of moving from ‘A’ to ‘B’ on fetch quests and interacting with NPCs. You pick up errand objectives, which involve anything from searching the hills around town for flowers and spring water, to seeking out the king’s lost red herring from the castle moat. One of the most frequent tasks you carry out is searching for NPCs that are brimming with enthusiasm, courage, faith, love and other traits. You then have to cast a spell to borrow their trait and then search for people lacking in these areas to help heal them. Though there’s no real skill needed to carry out these tasks - you’re simply going through the motions - I found myself spending a lot of time involved in these objectives and enjoying the feelings evoked through healing some of the town folk, and the rewards they bring.
Indeed, it’s hard not to get sucked into these side quests due to their charming nature, but also because the rewards make them worth it. By completing quests you gain merit stickers which are used to fill up merit cards (much like the cards you get in Subway or Costa Coffee.) Once you fill up a merit card with 10 stickers you get to choose a perk which can be invaluable later on in the game, such as the ability to run faster or be able to jump. You earn money too which can be spent in the shops around town, upgrading your weapons, armour, buying trinkets or stocking up on provisions. Money becomes vitally important because it’s during combat where Ni No Kuni really challenges and without the right equipment you’re doomed.
There are bounty hunting side quests where you come into contact with creatures and in return you gain cash and items, but battles largely take place when you follow the main quest-line and have no choice but to battle against enemies and Shadar’s cronies, including the likes of Rhinosaurs, Minor Byrdes or Baatenders, unique designs based on animals that you’d find in the real world. Combat combines real-time and turn-based action, which ensures that there’s plenty of action as you can move freely around the arenas. If you approach a creature, or one manages to chase you down, then you enter into a combat arena where it’s you and your Familiar battling against one or more enemies. There’s a health and magic bar to keep an eye on and you can take advantage of melee combat with a variety of hand-based weapons or use a variety of spells from afar, perhaps firing a block of ice or fireball at an enemy. After the cooldown period, you have the option to then switch with the d-pad to your Familiar to use their strengths and spells.
As you progress, more Familiars join your squad and - as they all have different elemental attributes - it’s up to you to switch between the right characters to bring down enemies effectively. Initially, roaming across the hills fighting smaller creatures proves to be a good way and easy way to level up quickly, but soon enough the challenge gets really intense and cranks up in pace. The battle system is intuitive to use, though decisions do have to be made extremely quickly in the heat of battle. The option to defend, attack, cast a spell, eat a provision on your turn to boost an attribute, or cure an ailment, need to be made based on how the battle is playing out. There’s no way you can just blast your way through most fights and win, so a large part of the fun is ... (continued on next page)