The PlayStation brand has had many jRPG/RPG’s hit their various consoles over the years. Some have been triumphs and some have been a bit hit and miss. It is with great happiness I can say that Ni No Kuni is another one of those triumphs. Level 5 have brought back the success and magic they had with their PS2 exclusives: Dark Cloud, Dark Chronicle and Rogue Galaxy. Whilst playing Ni No Kuni I felt the same joy and happiness I had while playing those PS2 titles and it really didn’t take long for me to decide that, just like the three games mentioned above, it will go down as one of my favorite games for the PlayStation.
All credit cannot go to Level 5 this time however as they have teamed up with the critically acclaimed Studio Ghibli, famous for such films as Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away. This match up is pure gold and it just begs the question why has this not been done sooner?
…why has this not been done sooner?
Ni No Kuni focuses on a young boy called Oliver, a thirteen year old boy from the fictional town of Motorville. When an unfortunate series of events happen which ultimately end up with the death of his mother he ends up being alone in his room where he takes hold of a gift from his mum. He cries and his tears cause the doll to come to life. He explains to Oliver that he is Drippy ‘Lord high Lord of the Fairies’. After the short introduction Oliver is given a book called the Wizards Compendium which also gives Oliver the power of magic and the ability to enter the parallel world of Ni No Kuni.
Easing Into It
The first few hours of the game are more like a tutorial and teach you everything to get you going. This may sound like a long time but there is a lot to learn if you are going to become the great wizard that will bring down Dark Djinn Shadar. These first few hours are very story heavy and give you a chance to get to know the characters.
Whether it be in game graphics or the rendered animation this game never fails to impress
But it does showcase what these two studios are capable off. From the amazing cell-shaded characters to the jaw dropping world that is so brilliantly detailed and colourful. Whether it be in game graphics or the rendered animation this game never fails to impress.
As the game progresses you meet new characters that help you by giving you pages for your wizard’s companion. These pages can be anything from spells to stories. These pages give you so much information, it’s amazing to see how much effort they have put into the wizard’s companion and with them doing so makes you want to try and collect all of the pages.
Gameplay is handled brilliantly with the controls being very similar to other jRPG games.
Where this game really excels is in its combat.
Combat is given more freedom by not sticking to a turn based system but instead lets you run around on an open battlefield where you can give commands such as attack, defend, cast spells. These can be done at any time throughout the battle and are not restricted as they would be in a turn based system. Combat is also given a nice little twist in the form of ‘Familiars’.
Familiars can be captured and then raised by you. You can feed them treats which upgrade their attacks, defense and magical capabilities. You can also evolve your familiars to become stronger and more powerful. Leveling up is handled nicely as well with everyone in your party gaining xp even if there are familiars you haven’t used in battle so long as they are in your party they will gain XP and level up. As well as leveling up you can also purchase weapons, shields, costumes to give to your familiars so their stats are improved and are more efficient in battle.
As with most other jRPG titles it’s the story that really gets people interested in playing and the more you keep playing the more the story unfolds and you start to lose yourself in this unbelievable world. Locations come and go in this game and each is more breathtaking than the last and the supporting cast make this game a joy to play. As well as the locations there is the over world. Instead of picking locations and traveling there through a loading screen the player can actually run through rolling hills and giant deserts in order to get to where they want to be.
The size of these areas is pretty expansive and could get boring but while traveling through these locations there are so many enemies that combat is more than likely to happen and keep the game flowing and never make traveling across these massive areas boring. As well as following the main story the player is also given side quests. These come in the form of running errands for various characters or doing bounty hunts. These quests help break up the story and I had many an hour just taking time off the story and going to complete these quests.
There is also an unsung hero to this game and that goes to its musical score. The music in this game is fantastic and is composed by Ghibli’s own Joe Hisaishi and performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. There were times while playing that I would just sit and put the controller down just so I could listen to the music and there are not many games that have made me do that this generation.
Another thing that this game has got that not too many other games have had this generation is colour. This game is vibrant, colourful, and cheerful and it does not want to throw me in a environment that is just different shades of grey which so many games this generation have fallen foul of.
As you may have guessed I really can’t stop singing this games praises. For all the positives I have said surely there must be a negative and to this I say I haven’t found one. The only thing I could call a negative would be that sometimes there are odd words that have been spelled wrong in the translation and even then I thought that just added to this game’s charm.
Ni No Kuni really does have it all
Ni No Kuni really does have it all and to tell you more about it would only ruin what is one of the finest exclusive games the PS3 has to offer. It’s a game that shows off the talents of two extraordinary studios who really are at the top of their respective fields. It shows that when two world class entertainment studios come together magic can happen.
I urge anyone who owns a PS3 and who is a fan of jRPG/RPG games to stop what you are doing now and go and purchase one of, if not the best, jRPG game of this console generation.
BOG’s Ni No Kuni Review Score: 9.8/10
Why so high?
+ Incredible Graphics
+ Likeable characters
+ Brilliant story
+ Expansive and brilliantly brought to life universe
+ Familiars add to gameplay diversity
Why so low?
- Could be considered to cutesy for some
- Grinding can feel repetitive but has it’s pay offs