Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch puts players in the hands of Oliver. Upon a certain unfortunate series of events, Oliver’s mother dies. Heartbroken, his stuffed animal, Mr. Drippy, comes to life revealing that’s he’s a fairy from an alternate dimension, Another World. Oh and you’re a wizard/ savior of said alternate dimension. The game follows many RPG tropes, but Ni no Kuni does it in a terrific way, breathing life into this dying genre. The influence of Hayao Miyzaki, director of such films as Spirited Away, make this tale a charming, often funny, adventure for all ages.
Developer Level 5 literally threw every RPG element into a pot, stirred it up, and boom: side quests, mini games, a casino, a coliseum, alchemy, et cetera. But let’s get to the gameplay itself. Simply put, it’s a cross between Pokémon and the “Tales of” series. In battle, you can control Oliver, his eventual two companions, or their Familiars. While the characters do have skills, the Familiars are the main focus in combat. Each little creature, which you can recruit, offers different skills and buffs. Battles can be challenging, relying on your quick responses, and tactical choices, but it’s these challenges that make the gameplay so rewarding, addictive, and beautiful.
Speaking of beauty, wow! This game truly feels like you’ve stepped into a Studio Ghibli movie. The fabulous colors, quirky characters, and robust set of locales are all mesmerizing. The true star of this game, however, is the localization. Whoever Namco Bandai recruited should win an award because the voice acting is superb. This, accompanied with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra arranging the soundtrack, was a sound design forged in Heaven. The one complaint people may have is the occasional difficulty spikes and pacing issues, but overall they are barely even freckles.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch may be my game of the year. Yes, it’s early, but damn! The story, music, voice acting, gameplay, and everything in-between gave me faith in the Japanese RPG once again. I could go on about Ni No Kuni for hours. Because of this, I recorded two Qwiktros, analyzing Ni No Kuni more closely. To sum it all up for now, bravo Ni No Kuni. Bravo.
Score: 5/5 Stars
Special Notes: This article was originally published on February 26, 2013 via my Examiner account before the website shut down. Check out the supporting video review on the accompanying YouTube Channel, ReActionExaminer.