Ni No Kuni: Wrath of The White Witch Hands-on Impressions

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Ni No Kuni: Wrath of The White Witch Hands-on Impressions
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of The White Witch Hands-on Impressions

It’s been quite a while since Namco Bandai Games first announced PS3-exclusive Ni No Kuni: Wrath of The White Witch. A collaborative effort between veteran RPG maker Level-5 and veteran animation house Studio Ghibli, Ni No Kuni promises to seamlessly blend Ghibli’s gorgeous art style with Level-5’s RPG chops for a completely unique experience not seen on PS3 until now. I went hands-on with the game at Namco Bandai’s recent media event in Las Vegas, exploring the lush world of Ni No Kuni, battling a plethora of creatures, and traversing through a pig-obsessed city appropriately titled Hamelin.

If you haven’t yet, check out the gorgeous new trailer for Ni No Kuni: Wrath of The White Witch above.

At Ni no Kuni 03 (Normal Resolution)Motorville 01

Oliver explores worlds both fantastical (left) and real-life (right) in Ni No Kuni.

If you’re unfamiliar with what Ni No Kuni is all about, here’s a quick refresher: players take on the role of Oliver, a young boy who has just lost his mother, as he searches for a way to find her again. As his tears fall on a doll given to him by his mother, the doll comes alive and leads him to a fantastical place, telling Oliver that he may be able to find his mother in this new world. Players will experience both the real and the fantastical worlds as the story goes on. It’s a very Ghibli-esque premise and one that suits the game’s presentation well.

It goes without saying that the first thing you’ll notice about Ni No Kuni is the striking visual style that Studio Ghibli and Level-5 have created within Ni No Kuni — it’s arguably the closest a developer has come to recreating the look and feel of Japanese animation within the confines of a video game. The cutscenes were created especially for Ni No Kuni by Studio Ghibli, and anyone familiar with the studio’s past work with films like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away will instantly recognize their unique aesthetic. Just as impressive though, are the real-time graphics. The whole world of Ni No Kuni ebbs and flows just as effortlessly as the Ghibli-produced cutscenes, lending a truly cinematic feel to the whole experience.

Fighting Scene

One of the most crucial elements to any RPG is its battle system, and Ni No Kuni takes a unique approach to the typical elements that many RPGs share. First off, there are no random battles when roaming the world map. Enemy groups can be seen well in advance, giving players ample time to decide whether to avoid or engage. Once in battle, players are free to roam the enclosed battle environment with their character, while issuing group commands to other characters. Players can also switch control to other characters on the fly. Additionally, Ni No Kuni presents a “familiar” system, allowing each of the main characters to summon creatures to fight by their side, each possessing their own special abilities. In my experience with the game, it helped to consider each enemy group before devising a tactical strategy to take them down, making the battle system quite a breath of fresh air in the RPG world.

My hands-on time also gave me a chance to explore the wider world. In an area called Hamelin, which is appropriately titled as my party encountered a society run by a porcine president, I encountered a vast culture with dozens of townsfolk and areas to explore. The town itself was filled with armory and item shops, which in the demo were closed for business. That said, the town itself felt like an interactive Studio Ghibli film, with a host of zany characters and an elaborate boss fight that I won’t spoil here.

01 Animation

Suffice it to say that if you’re a fan of RPG games you’d be wise to watch out for Ni No Kuni: Wrath of The White Witch in early 2013. Keep your eye on the PlayStation.Blog for more details as we get closer to the release date of this promising PS3 exclusive.

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  • This looks incredible.

  • Simply amazing.

  • Can’t wait to sink so much time into this game when it comes out next year. Along with Phantasy Star Online 2 on Vita in 2013, Ni No Kuni will mean my PS3 will still get a lot of attention as well!

  • Awesome, and love the dual language audio, thank you! Why does it have to take so long to come out here?! I want it already!

  • The localization of Ni No Kuni itself it’s a great victory for JRPGs fans, so it’s gonna be very worth the wait. Please keep more of this genre coming!!

  • For those who want it “now”, remember this is Level 5 here.

    They usually take a year or so in translating it for NA. Not to mention squashing all the bugs and adding in fan requested features. WKC had voice chat added to popular demand.

    Otherwise, been looking forward to this ever since it was on the DS(shame really).

    This would be a great title to have an special edition of.
    Seeing the trend of taking things the extra mile to ensure a new purchase, I’m gonna be blunt.
    Add in the soundtrack on new copies only and you’ll have some solid incentive.

  • 2013, ?? tlk about popping the cmale back and and soaking itin gravyy.. I cant wait for the day localization take 2 more no less..

  • Sony/Studio Ghibli! Come to my house and take everything; TAKE IT ALL!

    I want this game… NOW! OH, please please please, release a collector’s edition of this game. I don’t care how much it costs, just make it happen!!!

  • I really want a collector’s edition as well. This is exactly the type of game I’m willing to put down extra money for.

  • Really impressed by the voice acting and graphics.. will be keeping an eye on this one! hopefully it does well in the US.

  • Andy Burt now I’m crying of hapiness about dual audio in Ni No Kuni… first Namco RPG that I’ll buy… shame that Dual Audio Feature is not in on Tales of Graces F :(

  • I’ve been looking forward to this game for a long, long time. Before it was even released in Japan.

    I like the stuff both of these studios produce, together it’s pure gold.

    I already have this game pre-ordered. I pre-ordered the first day they allowed them. From the trailer it looks like you already have the translation done… so I wonder what will take another ~10 months to finish.

    Impatient, of course, to get my hands on this one =) A pre-order bonus would make the wait more bearable Namco ;)

  • 2013 can’t come soon enough. Luckily I’ll have some Kingdom Hearts and Gravity Rush to play in between.

    Most anticipated game for next year, easily. Been waiting forever. Probably going to import the DS and PS3 versions during the summer so that I can support it. Since I know the PS3 version hasn’t done as well as it should in Japan.

    Advertise it right Namco. It deserves success and I really want Level-5 to be able to make more.

  • Always good to see a Japanese or JRPG game nowadays; pretty darn tired of the Western shooter/zombie/multiplayer games that seem to be congesting the market nowadays. Hats off to Level-5 and Ghibli for this effort; I want the old Japanese-dominated game market like ye olden days of the PS1 and PS2 to return.

  • Thanks for confirming dual audio so far in advance. I sometimes won’t even bother if a game’s original audio is removed. I wonder why it isn’t considered standard to preserve the original track as an option just like foreign movies. Makes so much sense.

  • My most anticipated game. I love Studio Ghibli : )

  • why jRPGs keep going to Nintendo consoles and handhelds?

    PS3 needs more jRPGs.

  • Hopefully the Mayans’ were incorrect about the supposed end of the world thing coming in December. If not, then I guess we won’t see this game EVER!

    In another note, someone asked if the soundtrack was composed by Joe Hisaishi. Yes it is.

  • The story will surely be too childish for my tastes, but I can’t miss a beautiful game like this. I always loved Studio Ghibli, and I also loved the majority of Level 5 games.

    I will preorder this game for sure. I’m missing my dose of good JRPGs.

  • @XDeath90: Your avatar is really nice. It’s coming from which game? I can’t seem to find it, haha.

  • @Andy Burt

    Because its studio Ghibli and you said it has japanese track, means auto buy for me. Thanks.

  • Oh man was I seriously hyped for this game, 2012 was MY YEAR.. Alas, I’ll have to sadly force myself through a plethora of great games to come out this year for the Playstation 3… Oh well, I guess there’s always next year. The article is appreciated, a mighty fine read!

  • Does this have Move support? I could have swore i heard it did.

  • Can’t wait for this game!

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