Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Review
I have been dying to get my hands on this game since it was first announced, I'm what you would call a Studio Ghibli fanatic, and I was curious to see what would happen if you put such a famed studio on a title. Well I have to say it makes for one hell of a game. I will say this there were times where I wish this game was a movie instead of a game so I could sit back and enjoy it, but I'm glad I got to play it.
Graphically this game was amazing. The world was so well crafted, and the little things in the game be it clipping on characters, collision issues, were non-existent. Everything looked alive in the game, in Studio Ghibli fashion. They left a mark everywhere from the enemies that you'll face off against to the towns and areas that you'll get to explore. This alone is a good reason to pick up the game.
The audio was an interesting situation. The battle music was constant, so there wasn't much flavor in it, but at the same time it was well done so it didn't get too old on your ears. The voice acting I thought fit perfectly, but there was a huge issue with it at the same time. In this generation and on if you're going to voice cut scenes you need to voice ALL cut scenes, and not have the audio just drop out randomly and leave you to start reading the dialog as it scrolls at the bottom of the screen.
The controls took a little bit of time to get used to simply because you needed to know the menu layouts in combat if you were going to stay alive. The battles are real time with menu selection needing to be made, so if your special move that you want to start combat off with is three moves to the right, you needed to get that memorized to minimize the chance of taking unnecessary damage.
You play as a boy named Oliver, a normal boy with a loving mother, and an inventory for a friend. You live in a quiet town, until one day when tragedy strikes your mom. Lost in despair you notice that your trusty doll that you've dragged around with you everywhere for as long as you can remember comes to life and introduces himself as the king of the fairies of another world. He instructs you to find a magical stick to help create a portal to that world so that you might be able to save that world from destruction. Of course with a little bit of skepticism and a mentality of there's nothing left to lose you decide to go along with Mr. Drippy. What you discover is a world that is being tormented by an evil sorcerer named Shaddar. You'll have to rally the great sages of this world, as well as capture of train familiars, magical creatures that a wizard can employ to fight with him. There are a ton of familiars, and its almost a Pokemon type of situation. You'll get to level them up until they are ready to evolve. There are three evolutions before the familar becomes its ultimate form. Each time the familiar evolves they will become stronger have more special moves available, but at the same time they will start again at level 1, which means you're going to have to be careful when putting them into combat for a while. Thankfully if the familiar is on any of the active characters' rosters they will receive experience points so no need to panic.
There is a crafting system that introduces itself a good chunk of the way into the game, and I'm just going to tell you right now, I only used it once. A ton of the recipes I had no interest in, or the items that could be created weren't any stronger than the items I already had equipped. There's also the ability to mix and match, but with some items being scarce and not all that many recipes being readily available, I just kind of ignore that part of the game completely. There was also a casino that opened up during the game, and after going there once, I never went back because money is hard to come by in the game for some of the later items, and I never won anything there, so that too was soon forgotten. There was an optional aspect of the game that I took on religiously and that was the people quests, and bounty hunts. When you went into towns there would be one place where you could find out information about possible side quests and bounty hunts, and by doing them you got stamps, and if you filled enough of the stamp booklets you could trade it in for nice little bonuses in the game, things like allowing you to run, decrease the price of items, regain health as you walk, etc.
I will say this right now, without too much of a spoiler for the game, when you think the game is over, it will not be. That being said it is worth the tons of hours you are sure to put into the game, I believe I ended up at 60+ hours for the game, and even though there were times where I felt I was just grinding, the game flowed rather well and I didn't feel like I was trapped too long at a specific point. If you are looking for a solid RPG with the Japanese flair, but with it not being too overpowering you've got to check this game out, just know you're going to be putting in some serious time in this game, and I HIGHLY recommend that you take on some of the side stuff in the game, it will help you out a ton when you get late into the game. Even with some of the choices in the cut scenes, and the parts of the game that I had no interest in whatsoever, what I did play I enjoyed whole heartedly, and I can't give this game anything but a9.4 out of 10.