I first saw the trailer for Ni No Kuni a few months ago when I heard that Studio Ghibli and Level 5 were collaborating on a Game. This excited me so much because I have been a huge fan of Studio Ghibli since I was a little girl. How could anyone forget such classics such as My Neighbour Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away….to name just a few! Also, Level 5 did a fantastic job with Professor Leyton so I was expecting big things from this game from the outset and it did not disappoint!
The game arrived in the post on Friday which means we spent the entire weekend jamming it. As you can see in the photos below, we received the Wizard’s Companion with the game as it was a special pre-order offer from Game. Unfortunately, it’s in Japanese but it’s not a huge issue as there is a digital version in the game which is in English.
If you really wanted to, you can purchase the uber-ultimate-deluxe-collectors edition of the game for around £70 to get hold of a little Plushy of Mr. Drippy, the english version of the Wizard’s Companion and other stuff in it too.
So, I guess we have come to the big question, what is it like to play? Well, let’s just say we’ve already clocked up 15 hours of Gameplay since the un-boxing on Friday night. It is quite simply stunning. I would say that it is loosely based around Pokemon in that you can train, catch and fight with monsters but it’s not as simple as that. Ni No Kuni is certainly not “the new version of Pokemon”.
The battle system makes it so much more exciting than just pressing the X button repeatedly during the fight. It is turn-based combat but in real time meaning that you control your “Familiar” (the lil monster critters you can train and catch!). Also, what is interesting about the battle system is that, the trainer is the one that takes the damage and not the “Familiar”. This means that if your “Familiar” gets hit, the player will take the damage for it instead. Not only that but you can switch between players to take control of different “Familiars”. Also, during battles, enemies will drop health, MP and special golden “power-ups” which are similar to limit breaks in Final Fantasy.
Ni No Kuni gives the player the flexibility of choosing to fight predominantly with your “Familiars” or whether you want to actually fight with the trainers themselves. Unlike Pokemon, Ni No Kuni have also incorporated magic and alchemy into the mix meaning that your main character can use powers too and can join in the battle!
Sound good so far? It gets even better, don’t you worry. The main gripe I have with a lot of games is how they tackle the problem of travelling between areas. Now in Pokemon, travelling between towns and gyms became a little tedious and it just became a routine of furious level grinding. Games such as Skyrim gives you the whole world to explore straight away with loads of side quests and things to do but you can only explore by foot. In Ni No Kuni, you get to sail a pirate ship AND level grind AND explore on foot AND get loads of sidequests! You can see why you could quite easily spend over 40-50 hours on this game.
Not only that but I’m sure if you’re reading this you will probably be checking out other reviews of this game too but I cannot express to you just how beautiful this game is. The attention to detail is startling and it is a complete joy to travel through the land meeting all manner of weird and wonderful critters you can befriend. It is just like playing an anime. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
I would say the most significant difference between this and Pokemon is that it’s focus is almost entirely on story. Let’s face it, the Pokemon game storyline is pretty flimsy anyway. I can say that the story rivals many existing JRPG titans such as Zelda or Final Fantasy but with a storyline that is easy to follow and not too convoluted. Without giving too much away (I will write about the story in more depth in another post), I would say that it reminds me of Full Metal Alchemist and Howl’s Moving Castle combined with battling familiars.
The voice acting is ok….But as with many JRPGs, expect some pretty cringey characters, or at least, you might want to turn the volume down when it gets particularly shrill. I’m glad at least that the main character and the 2 supporting characters aren’t too annoying. I’ve been put off games purely because I just couldn’t listen to someone’s voice anymore.
I actually think this is probably going to become one of my favourite games of all time. I will post more about it when I get through more of the story. After 15 hours of play, I’ve FINALLY been let off the leash and now I can explore!