Every few years a game comes along that reminds you why you fell in love with a particular genre in the first place. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch contains some of the very best elements of the Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) genre while staying true to a formula that makes any piece of fiction ‘work:’ Relatable characters and a consistently engaging narrative.
Best of all, legendary JRPG developer Level-5 teamed up with anime masters Studio Ghibli to create a game that not only looks beautiful and tugs at your heartstrings, but one that also boasts compelling gameplay to complement its astonishing audio-visual presentation.
The first hour of Ni no Kuni effectively sets up the narrative and without giving too much away, provides you with a very powerful incentive to journey to a parallel world and defeat the evil wizard Shadar. You play as a young boy called Oliver whose doll Drippy comes to life following a tragic event. Shortly after this Drippy teaches him the magic required to venture into this alternate realm, and Oliver sets off on a quest of epic proportions.
Ni no Kuni does a great job of slowly introducing you to all its unique and intricate gameplay systems by means of tutorials and text hints. One of the most interesting gameplay mechanics is being able to journey between Oliver and Drippy’s respective worlds to advance the storyline. Certain characters in one world have ‘soul mates’ in the other world to whom they are connected. For example, at one point you’ll need to switch back to Oliver’s hometown to find out what the favourite food of a certain character is so you can be granted an audience with her in Drippy’s world.
Another central gameplay system is mending people’s broken hearts by absorbing qualities that they lack (such as enthusiasm or restraint) from someone who has these qualities in abundance, and then using magic to imbue their broken hearts with these characteristics.
Ni no Kuni’s combat system is less unique than its other gameplay mechanics, taking many cues from successful JRPGs such as the ‘Tales of’ and Pok