I figured I’d talk a little bit about a title that isn’t as well-known in all the gaming circles: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. This game certainly was eclipsed at E3 as I think there was only the 17 minute gameplay commentary which I did see of course. As such, since that is all I have seen (besides the trailer and some extra footage from a Japanese convention), this be will slightly brief.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for this game. I’m quite familiar with Level-5 and their games; mostly I’m familiar with the PS2 games, like Dark Cloud and Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. Others who’ve played Professor Layton, White Knight Chronicles, or Inazuma Eleven might have a different, varying opinion besides mine, but I’ve liked what I’ve played so far from Level-5.
The fact that Studio Ghibli is also involved with a heavy influence is just a much added bonus. Basically, this is how I see it: if you’re worried about the story, characters, and music…don’t! Studio Ghibli has you covered there. If anyone has ever watched a Studio Ghibli film, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’re worried about the graphics and the gameplay, I wouldn’t be. As far as the graphics go, I know that Ni no Kuni is looking like it’s having a world map environment similar to Dragon Quest VIII which, if you haven’t played, had a spectacular world map. I think the phrase is “very expansive.”
As far as the gameplay was concerned, or at least what was shown in the E3 commentary, I liked the flow of the game – especially in combat. From what it seemed using the PS3 shoulder buttons, you could switch characters on the fly as well as give commands. I like the added challenge of placing more emphasis on the creatures you collect in battle rather than on Oliver in the demo, who is shown to be physically weak (which also brings in an interesting element of having a mage-type as your main character). I don’t expect all the characters to be like that, but we’ll have to see. I also like how they added in a bit more challenge by making both the creature’s and the summoner’s HP gauge connected. I’m going to highly assume that this will place more focus on strategical battles so as to not end up screwing yourself over in a battle. I don’t know how they’ll fully implement this (like would you be able to summon a second creature if the first is KOed and would your HP bar adjust?), but I’m looking forward to seeing what has been thought up.
The flow of gameplay doesn’t just stop in the battles. I noticed that it even transferred over when Oliver entered a ship on a beach coastline. There seemed to be a smooth transition from running right to sailing. This is a very, very small thing, but I personally liked the flow of the movement. As far as the creature collecting goes, I’ll more than likely enjoy it but it’s not something I’ll gush over. I’m hoping that it will be very fun to do this as it is quite crucial for the element of combat in the game since your creatures do most of the battling. I want to be able to enjoy going after these creatures if I’m so inclined to use them.
I’m actually looking forward to playing this game and have been since I saw the news releases. It was very difficult for me to really evaluate this one and give an opinion because of the lack of footage surrounding the game. I’m really hoping that the big thrill of Ni no Kuni doesn’t end up being the fact that Studio Ghibli had a large hand in the development – though that’s not my largest concern. The game is gearing up to be a very visually-pleasing title and I’m sure it’ll have the story and gameplay to help back it up. I’m also excited that we’ll have a JRPG that looks like it’ll have a great English voice cast all-around.
January can’t come soon enough.