Thursday, 25 July 2013

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

When I moved to London at the end of May we hadn't even sorted out the internet or anything. I was faced with two weeks of alone time (my boyfriend works full time!) with no contact with the outside world, and I wasn't really feeling it at all. After the first couple of days of watching daytime telly I realised I was missing a perfectly good opportunity to do some gaming. Michael's PS3 was sitting unused, and this one game was calling to me above all the others.


Ni No Kuni is a Japanese RPG, you control a little boy called Oliver and his Welsh fairy companion Mr Drippy. It's pretty standard JRPG fare, with spells and monsters and lessons about friendship. What sets this game above the rest is the fact that the animation was done by Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro) in their first foray into gaming. As you can imagine, the hook here is that the game is absolutely stunning. Stunning doesn't even do this game justice, I actually cannot think of another game that looks as brilliant as this one. From the first to the last seconds I never stopped marveling at the effort and love that has gone into this game design. 

Games these days are all about realism. I hate the cold, dead eyes of 'realistic' looking characters, I hate looking at war torn battlefields in shades of brown and grey, I don't care how accurate your blood spatter is, just give me a game that I can drink in. I like to get invested in games, I'll rack up hours and hours of game play, and I want to do that in a pleasant environment. Ni No Kuni is basically a breath of fresh air, providing rich fantasy landscapes and an astounding attention to detail. The art direction is interesting, as everything is hand drawn, some things like backgrounds are lovingly shaded whereas the characters and enemies are more cell-shaded. It helps the characters stick out so they don't get lost in the business of the world. God, it's just really bloody lovely, okay?!


The story isn't half bad either. If you took a big bowl and you poured in Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy X and Pokemon, stirred it and put it in the oven for twenty minutes, you'd probably end up with something a bit like this. The vast amount of stuff you can do is a little intimidating to start with (the actual story is at least thirty hours of gameplay) but soon you'll be sucked in to it.  The game mechanics took me a little while to get used to (note: I am probably the world's worst gamer), especially switching stuff between battles, but at any time you can flick to easy mode until you get the grasp of something. It's those kind of touches that really make me think the creators were first a foremost going for a game that anyone can play.

Also, its pretty awesome to have a game where you don't kill anything. Sometimes you want to bash zombie brains in, sometimes you just want to send your enemies on a little time out. This is kid-friendly but doesn't feel childish. What I like is that the same stuff that you would laugh at playing it, a little kid would too. Maybe for different reasons, but it's more of a Pixar feel rather than a Dreamworks style rude joke that'll go over kids heads.



Ni No Kuni is currently on amazon for £25 which is a steal in my eyes considering my gameplay has reached 80+ hours and I've still got loads and loads of stuff to do! If you fancy some good fun, try it out!

2 comments:

  1. Oi I love this game, I'm so glad you've found it! The world and sounds are so cute in such a subtle way, that even the most macho men can play it without losing too much ego.

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    1. It is ridiculously good :)

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