IGN Preview of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Great adventures often spring from tragedy. When faced with unmatchable sadness, anger, or fear, we more readily face the unknown and launch into quests of self-discovery. In the wake of death, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch propels us into another world filled with strange creatures and stranger evils.
Ni No Kuni represents some of the best JRPG traditions, but it also suffers from an enigmatic title and sparse international press. With its western launch approaching with head bowed, it seems fitting to highlight some of Ni No Kuni's strengths based on my time with the imported Japanese version. Though as you'll soon see, words fail to capture Ni No Kuni's beauty and charm.
Much of the anticipation surrounding Ni No Kuni comes from the talented teams behind it. Ni No Kuni was co-developed by Level-5 and Studio Ghibli. Level-5, best known for such games as Dark Cloud, Rogue Galaxy, and the Professor Layton series, commands tremendous respect from the gaming community.
Similarly, its counterpart, Studio Ghibli, remains an indomitable force in animation. With films like Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and Ponyo serving as evidence of its repeated success, it shouldn't surprise you that Ghibli impresses film-goers around the world.
This first-time collaboration between the two teams represents a tremendous merging of raw talent -- one of the many reasons Ni No Kuni sits at the top of my "Most Anticipated" list.
The Story (Contains Introductory Spoilers)
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch begins with Oliver, a young boy living with his mother in what might as well be Detroit (it goes by "Hotroit" in game). After sneaking off with a friend late one night Oliver almost drowns but survives thanks to the brave efforts of his mother. Tragedy strikes when she dies unexpectedly following the incident, leaving Oliver devastated and alone.
Not all hope dies with her, however. A charming fairy comes to life before Oliver's eyes and informs him of a parallel world that exists in harmony with his own. Oliver's mother may still live on the other side, so the young boy follows his guide into the unknown. What awaits him? A magical world brimming with color and just as much opportunity for adventure.
Oliver and his friends will meet many types of creatures standing between them and their goals. Fortunately, Oliver boasts an aptitude for magic, including the summoning of creatures to do battle. Throughout Ni No Kuni you can summon a warrior creature to complement Oliver's magical abilities.
This system, while simple, features an abundance of personality. With only a few hours under my belt, I can't speak on the longevity of Ni No Kuni and if it can withstand dozens of hours of play. But the exciting, spell-filled battles provide enough visual splendor to leave me wanting more. And any RPG that can keep combat from becoming a chore has performed a great feat for gaming.
Battles and bravery aside, nothing stands out quite as brilliantly as Ni No Kuni's visuals. With resplendent art accentuating each animation, Ni No Kuni is one of the most beautiful JRPGs in recent memory -- certainly a highlight of the PlayStation 3 catalogue. Within minutes of coming to life on screen, Ni No Kuni will dazzle any gamer with a fondness for Japanese aesthetics.
These visuals, along with many other elements of Ni No Kuni's design, are some of the reasons why JRPG lovers should keep Ni No Kuni on their wish list. I hope that time, and a translated English version, prove that my high expectations of this project were well placed.
This article is based on a two hour play session with the Japanese version of Ni No Kuni that IGN imported at its own expense.
Ryan Clements writes for IGN's PlayStation Team. You can follow him on myIGN and Twitter.