Preview

In 2011 Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was released in Japan for the Playstation 3 and now it is officially on the horizon for the rest of the world. Ready Up recently spent three hours playing the start of the game so we can tell you all about it.

Ni No Kuni is the tale of a boy called Oliver who travels to a parallel world to become a wizard and help save that world and bring his mother back from the dead. Oliver’s guide in this world is Drippy, the Lord High Lord of the Fairies who was cursed and trapped in our world in the form of a toy made by Oliver’s mother. The curse was broken and Drippy was freed when Oliver cried on the toy over his mother’s death.

There is little interaction with the game until you get to the other world, however this isn’t a negative as it would be for other games. Studio Ghibli are known for their emotional plots and heavy storyline and Ni No Kuni is no exception with the first section of the game being almost one long cutscene. This pulls the player into the game further and helps to establish the storyline and creates an emotional attachment to the characters of Oliver and Drippy.

The graphic style continues to confirm this as a Ghibli game with an almost seamless transition from cutscene to gameplay. The attention to detail is just what you would expect with an incredibly captivating art style painted in a recognisable palette.

The game mechanics to Ni No Kuni have come from LEVEL-5 studios, who have developed games such as Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King and the Professor Layton series. For anyone who has played Journey of the Cursed King the fight mechanics in Ni No Kuni may feel familiar. The fights are based on a turn taking system that allows you to choose which player will fight and in what style etc, while being systematically attacked. Foes will occasionally drop orbs that replenish HP (hitpoints) and mana.

Should you choose to you can have a familiar fight for you by conjuring one up using magic. Like Oliver, the familiar will level up the more they fight, learning new moves as they reach certain levels. Another way of boosting your familiar, whom you can name, is to feed them treats that you find along your journey. Different treats will boost different traits of the familiar such as Attack, Magic, Accuracy or Defence.

Oliver also fights, though Drippy does not, and he can be more affective against larger foes and bosses. His basic attack is melee but Oliver also has magic spells at his command too. These you learn as you progress through the game and different spells can have strong effects on different foes, talking to NPCs can give you hints as to which to use and when.

The NPCs, like the main characters, all appear to have been created with great care and affection, rather than being the cut and paste clones that appear in so many other games. The enemies you face are also varied, most with amusing names, and many so adorable you want to snuggle them and take them home rather than kill them.

The whole game is tied together with a musical score from Joe Hisaishi who has composed music for many of the Ghibli films. Whether wandering across Ding Dong Dell to a dreamy, springy melody or fighting a Boss to a bold, crescendo filled tune the music in this game is tailored perfectly.

Ni No Kuni is a heart-warming game that will please any fan of Ghibli or the RPG genre. It feels lovingly hand-crafted and complete.

Ni No Kuni will be available for Playstation 3 from January 25th 2013, though the demo is available to play on PSN today.