This game is in serious contention for Game of the Year and that is not a term I am using lightly. With games like The Last of Us, BioShock Infinite, and Grand Theft Auto V in contention for the title, I think you will understand where I am coming from when I say that this game is absolutely amazing. But of course mixing the elements and story of a JRPG along with the animation from none other than Anime legend Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli and music composed by none other than Joe Hisaishi… What more can you expect? It has been a long time since I have found a truly legendary JRPG on the level of Chrono Trigger and the early versions of Final Fantasy.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is the story Oliver. A young man who lives in the town of Motorville. After an accident involving him almost drowning in a river, his mother Allie passes away after suffering a heart attack while rescuing him. While crying over a doll that was given to him by his mother, the doll comes to life and reveals himself to be a Fairy King named Drippy. After a conversation, Drippy convinces young Oliver to come with him to Drippy’s world in the hopes of saving his mother’s ‘soulmate’ Alicia and by extension bring his mother Allie back to life in his world. The story follows Oliver as he adventures through the other world, restoring the broken-hearted people of the realm, gaining new friendly companions, and defeat the nefarious Dark Djinn Shadar.
The animation for this game as I stated earlier was done by Studio Ghibli and it really shows. Not only do the characters of this game have the same look and feel as a Studio Ghibli production, but the animation itself is some of the best I have seen for them. The backdrop of the other world as you adventure through it is nothing short of breathtaking. Cities like Motorville and Ding Dong Dell are wonderful and have a classic RPG feel to them as you interact with the various denizens. But the truly breathtaking imagery comes from traversing the Overworld. The backdrop of the rolling plains will take your breath away as you walk from town to town.
Mountains of Customizable and Challenging Content
While having a few drinks with some friends a few nights ago, a friend of mine the very valid comment that with the expanding video game community, games are becoming more and more simplified. Puzzles are still challenging, of course. But not to the extent that they used to be in the days before in the ages between the Super Nintendo and Playstation 2/XBox years. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is the first game in quite a while that has a great amount of challenge connected to it. I have not played an RPG in a LONG time that gave me that old nostalgic feel of customizing my party to my requirements of play and really level grinding the shit out of them to stand a chance against some of the bigger and badder foes as the game moves on.
Of course not everything is like the really old days. The game is pretty linear (but that is to be expected from games of this day and age so no real criticism there) and of course there is extended tutorials to show you exactly how to use the different systems. But beggars can’t be choosers in this industry. As an older gamer you will get that old RPG feel that you have been missing for quite some time.
This is where this game will live in history. Games like The Last of Us and BioShock Infinite are phenomenal in regards of the time they come out and the fun it is to play them. But the one criticism you can give both of them is that as the years roll on and new games come along, they will be remembered fondly and every now and again played for shits and giggles but they just do not hit that spot in your heart that fills your heart with joy every time the name is uttered. It is games like Ni no Kuni that have that honor.
Just like the Final Fantasy series, Elder Scrolls series, and games like Chrono Trigger, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch just gives you that nostalgic joy of grandiose adventure. You take the reigns of this protagonist and traverse this large, expansive, and new world. You meet the everyday man and stay at their inns. You eat food and you sleep. You interact with this world. It is about the story being told, but you also experience the in between, the little things in life.
I know, I’m explaining the core concepts of what an RPG is about, but the point I and trying to make here is that these grand adventures really pull you into the world ESPECIALLY if you are a child and this is what the game is really geared towards. If I ever have a child the first thing I will do when they are old enough is give them this game. It is as if you get teleported to this world and have metamorphosed into this protagonist, Oliver. Games like this are an experience and ones that cling to your mind as the years go on. Even as new games come and go, you will always think back to games like this with fond memories of your past.
JRPGs are not as Ubiquitous as Other Video Game Genres and Because of this I Worry This Game Will Not Get the Play it Deserves
My con is not as much about the game itself. But instead for the fact that JRPGs still seem to be a niche market. With the exception of Final Fantasy, most of them are not played by the gaming community at large. Because of this I feel like the video game will not reach as many eyes as it should. This seems to already be the case as the end of 2013 are rolling down and I hardly hear of this game any more. I hope that this review can persuade others to give JRPGs a shot and if so this one is a great place to start.
This game is phenomenal, gorgeous, grandiose, and one of the greatest JRPGs in recent years. The story is great and thanks to the animation, it feels like you are taking control of a Studio Ghibli movie. If you want to get into JRPGs it is a great place to start and if you are a fan of the genre then this is an absolute must own!
Final Score 4.5/5
Thank you for reading and I apologize for the rush. The Holidays are a hectic time. But I’ll be back tomorrow with my review of Saving Mr. Banks.
*Side Note: I should add that even though Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was released in 2010 on the Nintendo DS, it was released in 2013 on the Playstation 3. Because of this it is in contention for Game of the Year of 2013.*