Get ready to cut-loose!
Upon loading up Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, I was immediately reminded of my childhood. Growing up, I was the kid with the big imagination, the one you'd catch in the schoolyard wearing a towel cape and proclaiming that they were a superhero. Ni No Kuni is a game that plays with an RPGamer's sense of childhood desire and gives gamers the pleasure of traversing through fascinating lands and encountering creatures that perhaps we've only created in our dreams.
My connection to Oliver was instant: traversing through the gorgeous overworld allowed me the opportunity to make connections with the world and its many creature inhabitants. With the help of Esther, Swaine and the adorable Welsh creature, Drippy, Oliver's travels are made all the more interesting as they share an adventure unlike any other. This is not a game you play for its combat system, as it's a pure story-driven game that attempts to take hold of the player and revert them back to things they may have appreciated within their youth.
That's not to say of course that the combat system isn't interesting, as it is a far more hectic system than one would expect in a game with such a story-driven nature. At the beginning of the battles players will have the option to either manoeuver around as Oliver or to select one of his many creature companions. By selecting Oliver, he is able to use magical attacks and whack fiends with his wand. While he's not strongest character in the bunch, he certainly has his uses, and if anything he's a magnetically charming protagonist. Creature companions vary throughout the game, each with their own unique skill sets. They also have the power to all out attack or defend depending on how the battles play out. Overall, I found the combat to be quite fast-paced and enjoyable, though there's certainly quite a bit of quick thinking involved as the battles move at such a rapid pace.
Every child's personal fantasy!
Creature recruitment is a large part of Ni No Kuni's gameplay. With Esther in Oliver's party, players will have opportunities at the end of combat to catch new potential creature friends. However, it's important to note that in combat, if one of the creatures dies, so does the master and vice-versa. Game-overs are less of a threat as players will only have to lose ten percent of their gold, and the chance to retry from precisely where they left off. During one of the game's boss fights, we were faced with a challenge in which many of the party's attacks did pitiful damage, and it was up to Oliver's magic skills to defeat the foe. Poor Oliver, who isn't that strong, constantly had to dodge anything and everything that was coming right for him, making this boss fight less of cakewalk than we originally thought it would be.
My most treasured time spent with Ni No Kuni came from the exploration. I felt like there was tons to explore in a world full of puns and tongue-in-cheek dialogue. During my tour of the Drip Drop Well, I found myself combating against robo-rabbits that I repeatedly chased about in hopes of getting the drop on them. I found myself completely enamoured with how unique and detailed every location was. Every area had deep levels of intricacies that is rare to see in a lot of modern games and is certainly worth commending. Furthermore, the score by Joe Hisaishi simply adds to the feeling of wanderlust presented by the game's atmosphere.
Ni No Kuni is the first localization done by Level-5, and it definitely shows tons of promise. The amount of minute detail that went into localization — a lot of the British slang and accents — is impressive, but even the sheer amount of play-on-words and puns that appear in the game are both refreshing and endearing. Everything that was seen today shows that Level-5 went all out in trying to make Wrath of the White Witch a memorable experience. I look forward to the journey I'll be taking in January when I finally get to truly explore the Another World for all it has to offer.