Your Mom’s Dead. Enjoy the Game, Kids!
Today’s game was introduced to me by my roommate, Richurd. I had not heard of it because I barely do any research into future video games anymore, but Richurd was well acquainted with it. And his passion for the game gave me passion for it, in a similar way to how Richurd transmits all of his passions into me. And his STD’s. Well, he told me that this game was a new RPG with an art design by Studio Ghibli, so that drew me to look into it. After watching a few videos, I fell in love with the artistic direction of the game and just had to get it. So now I’ve beaten it and that jerkface Richurd practically hasn’t played it yet. What an asshole. Well, let’s see how it worked out for me as I review Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, developed by Level-5 and Studio Ghibli, published by Namco Bandai, written by Akihiro Hino, and including the voices of Adam Wilson, Jo Wyatt, Jennifer Bryden, Lily Burgering, Brian Protheroe, Steffan Rhodri, Lauren Mote, Louis Tamone, Iain McKee, and Alexander Morton.
Oliver (Adam Wilson) is a young boy who lives in a town called Motorville with his mother, Allie (Jo Wyatt). One day, while test driving a car built by his friend Philip, Oliver crashes into a river and is rescued by his mom, but the strain is too much on her and she dies of a heart problem. Welcome to your happy kid game! Hey kids, did you love the first few minutes of Up and how it made you want to kill yourself? Anyway, while crying in his room, his tears cause his doll to awaken from its slumber and reveal itself to be a fairy named Drippy (Steffan Rhodri), given to Oliver by his mother, who was actually the Great Sage Alicia from another world, and Oliver has inherited her magical ability. And Drippy needs Oliver’s ability to rescue his world from the Dark Djinn Shadar (Brian Protheroe) and Queen Cassiopeia (Jennifer Bryden). What Drippy didn’t account for is that Oliver would be a selfish prick, so he gets him on board by telling him that he might be able to save his mother by saving her soul mate in his world, and thus the adventure begins.
I had a lot of problems with this game. But did I like it? I was 270 hours in by the time I stopped playing, if that answers my question. And it does. It’s a really good game, especially for people like me, but it’s definitely not without its problems. I think the bulk of the problems I had with it came from the fact that I couldn’t decide who this game was for. The look and theme of the game seem to be focused more towards children, but the story can get pretty heavy in parts. Hell, the whole story gets kicked off when the kid’s mother dies. That’s pretty harsh material. And they deal with some other pretty heavy issues in the game as well. Also (and I may have been reading too much into this) but I was uncomfortable the entire time the team was in Castaway Cove. The adult mayor of this town was set on everyone being forced to wear bathing suits in the town, ESPECIALLY the two children I was playing as. The mayor of Pedovilla even tells the kids to follow him to his house to get their bathing suits. Oliver, you will have no shirt. Esther, you will be wearing a slightly modest two-piece bikini. Mayor, you’re gross. And it had nothing to do with the story, so it was just a creepy little interlude with no point. I was actually hoping by the end that the story was all going to be some psychological catharsis for Oliver and that none of it was going to be real, but they decided to make it a real magical world instead. And dealing with some serious issues and just LOOKING kid friendly wasn’t the problem, but it was how badly the story babies its audience. Everything has to be spelled out so clearly that I was sure this game was intended for kids. The concept of soul mates is introduced in this game as everyone in Motorville’s world shares a soul with someone in the magical world. They introduce this by having a 5 minute conversation trying to figure out who in Motorville might be the soul mate to the king that was a giant cat, eventually deciding that it was probably the only cat we had seen in Motorville. Thanks game. This also helps ruin some things that could be surprises, like how Shadar is granted the “Power of the Storm” right before my group got into a boat to cross a sea. Surprise! He used it right then. Spoiler alert, game! They also made a lame attempt to conceal the fact that Swaine was Gascon. They act like we’re not going to know how it turns out for about an hour of the game, and don’t even have Swaine admit it for another long period of time after Oliver and Esther figure it out. They also drop their emotional dick on the table a little early in the game. I feel like the emotional crescendo of the game was the battle with Shadar, who they build up as the ultimate evil throughout the entire game. It wasn’t until mid-battle with him that I started wondering to myself, “Wait, why is the title Wrath of the White Witch? Shadar has been the major bad guy for the first three quarters of this game and she’s just been sitting in a chair, if that lady even is the White Witch because I don’t think I’ve even heard someone call her that.” Then, when the game continued right after that, I realized that we still had to deal with her, and she had a very short period of time to get wrathful.
There’s really nothing that I can say about the look of the game. If you like the look of the Studio Ghibli anime movies, you’ll love the colorful, lush environments and cheerful design of this game. It’s an absolute delight. If you don’t like it, then you = fuck.
I really enjoyed the gameplay here as well, but I couldn’t guarantee that everyone else would. I love RPG’s, so I’d definitely be into that part of the game, but I was also really into the familiar system. But I would have to say that the familiar system felt a little … familiar … to Pokémon. You catch creatures that you use in battle, and they can level up and learn new moves and only have four at a time and they evolve too. But that’s the only similarities. But if you take a good system and use it well, I can still like it. And, much like the Pokémon games, my OCD will cause me to try to catch ‘em all, which is how I was able to invest so much time into the game. I also liked some of the awful puns they used for the creatures. Like the sheep creature called “Baatender” and the bull boss called “Gladiataur”. Then they also had one called “Unibopper”, and it seems vaguely inappropriate to make a Unabomber reference in your kid’s game. But there were problems with the gameplay as well. Much like with the story, the game expects you to be dumb and extends the tutorial 10 hours into the game. Some of that was because they kept introducing new things that you could do slowly to give you time to get it figured out, but I’m a RPG pro. And you’re not throwing anything at me that I’m not pretty used to. And you should not be giving tutorials all the way into the 4th level. Assume we have it figured out by that point. Especially if your long tutorials are basically, “Do what you’ve been doing for the first 4 levels, but now you have TWO familiars.” The biggest issue with the gameplay is that it wasn’t the classic turn-based style, but just because the AI teammates were assholes. The familiar catching system was bullshit enough on its own since it was completely random and there was nothing you could do to have a better chance of catching something, so you just have to wait until the game decides you’re ready to have this creature, but it gets even worse when you have a chance to catch something, start switching to Esther to catch it, and then Oliver decides he needs to do a move that hits everybody and kills your potential familiar. To successfully catch anything, you had to outsmart your own AI and tell everyone to defend so they wouldn’t fuck it up, but then they would still get on your nerves because your teammates doing a buff spell on everyone like a Defend Up move would interrupt what you were doing and make you have to reselect what you were doing. I didn’t even require that since the only creature on screen is done fighting and is just waiting to see if I want to try to catch it! Getting into fights can be nice because you can see where all the fights are so you can try to avoid them or attack them, so you can get through a level without having to slog your way through, but it can also get annoying that creatures will run away from you if your level is too high so you need to really sneak up on creatures when you’re trying to catch some and you’re level 99. The missions were all fine, being only slightly annoying that some of them make you run back and forth a lot. None were as bad as the one that takes you to all corners of the map looking for “the world’s greatest treasure” just to find out that the last point is a guy’s grave that says that “the world’s greatest treasure is a life spent with friends.” Fuck you, game! That shit made me laugh out loud. Way to waste my day.
Even though I did get Platinum on this game, I don’t think I’d call it an easy completion for trophies. Well, they aren’t necessarily difficult as much as they can be extremely time-consuming. I did spend 237 hours playing the game, after all.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was a fantastic, though far from perfect, game. The story was touching, but between some deep messages and babysitting its audience, could not decide if it was for children or adults. The same goes for the gameplay, which is fun and engaging, but with tutorials way too far into the game. The graphics are inarguably awesome. Even though it has some problems, they’re nothing that should destroy your enjoyment of the game too much, and I’m definitely going to recommend this game for a purchase for anyone who likes classic RPGs or Pokémon. Great game. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch gets “Ni YES Kuni” out of “Now for the tutorial on how to read…”
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