Being a huge fan of Studio Ghibli and also a fan of Level 5’s previous work I was stoked to hear that there was going to be a RPG collaboration between the two. When I finally got to see some screen shots from the game I was completely hooked to purchase on day of release, something I have moved away from doing now and even opted for the Wizards Edition despite being a little short on coin!
The Wizard edition comes in a beautiful well-presented box, with fantastic artwork around the outside. Inside consists of the game, a well-made Plush toy of Drippy and the Wizard Companion book. The Wizard Companion is also featured in game and you will collect pages as you progress but its nice having to actual book in front of you and it really is a beautiful book.
The graphics are stunning and so too is the soundtrack. Some of the cut scenes are anime style straight from Studio Ghibli which is fantastic to watch and others are taken with in game graphics. One issue I had was that not all the cut scenes are voiced and you will find that the ones that do start off with voices but then quickly revers to text. As the voice acting is superb I couldn’t understand why they chose to do this and it does take away some of the games charm.
The controls and battle system is easy to pick up, you collect familiars as you progress through the game which are enemies you have converted to your side and fight on your behalf. Each familiar can be leveled up, trained, morphed and given new equipment. There are loads of them in the game and there is even a trophy for getting 250 different ones which seemed to me a bit excessive considering I finished the game at 80 hours with 128 which is only over half the needed amount. During battle each of the three characters you have will hold up to 3 familiars. At the end of each battle all 9 familiars and 3 characters will gain experience whether you use them or not. This is a handy way of leveling up new familiars or leveling up ones you have just morphed as once they change they fall back to a level 1. You can swap and chose your familiars and characters during a battle which is wise as different characters will affect enemies in different ways. The battles are flawless however I did have an issue with defense. You get an option to give an order for an all-out attack or defend by clicking one button however this does not include your own character, if you are in the middle of attacking you have to cancel the attack then chose defend from the battle options. This can take some time and sometimes when you are under pressure you can get flustered trying to get everyone in a defense position. It’s not an issue with low level enemies but can be later in the game when tackling the harder bosses and hunts it becomes a real issue.
The story is everything I expected it to be, its fresh colorful and warm hearted with a splash of darkness which I loved. Later in the game the story really opens up and without saying too much there is a couple of nice twists I didn’t see coming.
Ni No Kuni also has side quests however most of them are the same and can become repetitive. The hunts are a nice touch, I always like RPG’s with Enemy hunts in however 95% of them were very easy to do but provided a nice bit of EXP.
There is also a tournament which was challenging near the end, a casino which features slots and card games and a puzzle game which uses the left and right analogue sticks to get two characters through a maze which I found very challenging yet ingenious.
My issues with this game are only small and I have mentioned both already. These are the defense system and repetitive side quests; apart from this I absolutely loved the game. I managed to get all but two trophies in 80 hours; I could easily get the other two however it involves a hell of a lot of grinding and luck. If you are a JRPG don’t let this game pass you by.