reviews\ Jan 21, 2013 at 9:00 am

Review: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is beautiful, grand and a shining example of a JRPG done right


It's the way of the modern JRPG it seems like. Popular tropes like overworld maps, airships and some good old turn-based combat seem to have disappeared, or should I say, evolved into what JRPG games are now. However, thanks to Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, we get a game that finally gets it right again. It knows how to honor the JRPG tropes of old while still reinventing the genre and blending it with various gameplay elements of other popular franchises. Not to mention, Level 5 already developed some of my all-time favorite RPGs like Dark Cloud 2, Dragon Quest VIII and Rogue Galaxy.

Ni No Kuni is about a boy named Oliver and his quest through a magical world. A world where various wildlife can be tamed and used for battle; where magic is commonplace, but ultimately, a place in dire need of help. Oliver is an average boy, and yet he is pure-hearted. The game's initial events lead to a tragedy that leaves poor Oliver without his mother. Not long after, a doll that was given to him by his mother comes to life thanks to Oliver's pure-hearted tears.

ni no kuni

The doll, revealed to be a fairy named Mr. Drippy, explains to Oliver that  there are parallel worlds, where each person has a soul mate (essentially a doppelganger). His mother's soul mate is a powerful Sage who, in Drippy's world, is in dire need of help. Aside from needing a pure-hearted human to defeat a dark being known as Shadar, he also tells him that saving the trapped Sage can possibly re-awaken his mother in the human world.

Aside from Oliver's grand, main quest, the world is filled with side missions to partake in and elite monsters to hunt down. Many citizens will often ask you for help whether it's to collect certain items for them from the overworld map, hunt down a certain number of monsters, or simply restore their humanity with a bit of enthusiasm or courage that Shadar has taken from them. Oliver has the ability to borrow these emotions from people who are brimming with them, and in turn help out others who are lacking them.

ni no kuni

One minor gripe I had was that Mr. Drippy always spells out everything for Oliver, and in turn, to us the gamers. Instead of letting us figure out which character needs what type of heart, be it courage, kindness, etc., Mr. Drippy always yells out the solution, never really giving us the chance to use our brains a bit.

Since everyone is connected by their soul mate, Oliver will have to travel back and forth between his town of Motorville and the magical realm to solve various issues to help him progress with his quest. It's a riot to see that a simple house cat in Motorville is a King of a city elsewhere.

ni no kuni

Completing side quests is far more rewarding outside of extra Gold and EXP to be gained. Each side quest has a certain number of stamps associated with it based on their difficulty. Once completed, you'll gain these stamps for your merit card. Completing a certain amount of merit cards will then allow you to purchase bonuses for Oliver, such as faster running speed when on the overworld map or an increased amount health and mana globes during fights.

The game does tend to hold your hand when it comes to advancing the story, but you still have that freedom to do whatever you want, and delve outside the main quest. A Star icon will always guide Oliver to the next story based mission, but exploration is encouraged, and does yield some great rewards. JRPG purists can opt to turn the Star feature off completely.

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About The Author
Mike Splechta GameZone's review copy hoarding D-bag extraordinaire! Follow me @MichaelSplechta
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