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Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch Remastered

Posted by GG Goblin On October - 2 - 2019

The magic of the first Ni No Kuni game comes to a new generation.

 
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was easily one of the stand out games from the last generation. Released on PS3 back in 2013, this game marked the collaboration of Studio Ghibli, masters of animated movies, and Level-5, those of Professor Layton fame. The result was a wonderful JRPG in a rich fantasy setting with gorgeous visuals. While the more recent sequel did very well and was great fun to play, it had lost much of what made the first game special, specifically the input from Studio Ghibli. However, modern gamers need not miss out as Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch has now been remastered and released for PS4, along with the PC and Switch. Still no love for Xbox, but that is no real surprise.

 


 
Having played the hell out of the original, playing again on the PS4 was a bit of a double edged sword. Ni No Kuni is a memorable game and, despite my ailing memory, I could remember pretty much everything that happened during the first play through. This is something to consider for those who did play the game first time around. However, the magic is still there and while there is less surprise, Ni No Kuni Remastered is no less fun to play.

 
But what a treat new players have in store. Anyone who has watched one of Ghibli’s movies, such as Princess Mononoke or the often aired Spirited Away, will spot the similarities straight away, with gorgeous animated cut scenes that seem to come straight out of a movie. However, the magic comes when the gameplay starts and these cut scenes move almost seamlessly into Oliver and Drippy exploring strange, beautifully varied landscapes. While much of the gameplay would have been down to Level-5, it is obvious how much influence Ghibli had over the visual style of the game. It is glorious to watch.

 
The story may be a little generic, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t presented in a wonderful way. Essentially, players take on the role of Oliver, a young boy who, for reasons the player will discover, has lost his mother. In the midst of his grief, a scruffy toy that Oliver’s mum had given him comes to life and declares himself to be Drippy, the High Lord of the Fairies. Apparently there is an evil force corrupting the parallel universe of Ni No Kuni, where Drippy is from, and Oliver may very well be the chosen one who can save them all. On top of that, helping out in this other world could bring Oliver’s mum back. It’s a win win and a sceptical Oliver eventually accepts the mission. All they need to get started is a little bit of magic.

 


 
Well, a little bit of magic, a magic book and a wand to be precise. But from that simple beginning, Oliver and Drippy head into a strange new world, one filled with fascinating parallels of the world Oliver knew. For example, the fat ginger cat from Oliver’s world happens to be a king in this new world, and so the similarities between the two worlds begin. It’s an interesting concept which is, as with everything Ghibli does, presented so well in the game.

 
The usual JRPG gameplay loop is present, with Oliver gaining more and more magical skill as he does quests and helps people, growing more powerful until reaching the end of the game. Much of what Oliver will be doing involves helping people with their emotions, which have been affected by the evil force. These poor people have had something taken from them and Oliver will have to find someone with an abundance of that thing in order to cure the first person. It’s a threat that Oliver will overcome with childlike enthusiasm, and is quite endearing.

 
Combat is a similar game to many other JRPGs, with Oliver able to choose his actions when his turn comes around from a simple menu. The game mixes things up a little in a couple of ways though. Firstly, Oliver is able to move around the battlefield area, avoiding attacks and even picking stuff up along the way. Moving and choosing actions is dead simple thanks to the easy to understand controls. The other mix up is that Oliver can obtain familiars along the way that can actually fight in his place, often with different attacks. As a result, the combat is both dynamic and fun, without being overly complex.

 
When it comes to the remaster, Ni No Kuni has never looked better. Don’t get me wrong, it was a stunning game to start with, but 4K visuals and a 60fps frame rate mean that there is absolutely no faulting this game on PS4 and PC. The Switch version is, for obvious reasons, more of a direct port. Sadly nothing new was ever added to the game, so those who played the original will be getting the exact same experience, only better looking, which is a missed opportunity in my mind.

 


 
But we can’t really complain as I was in no way expecting Ni No Kuni to come back for another generation. Six years has been long enough for most returning players to thoroughly enjoy the game again, and a whole new audience of gamers will get to enjoy the hilarious Welsh accent of Drippy, High Lord of the Fairies, along with one of the best looking games ever made. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered is pretty much the perfect JRPG and should be an essential purchase for genre fans, fans of Ghibli, or anyone who would enjoy an incredibly well crafted fairy tale. Just get it.

 

 ★★★★★★★★★½ 



 

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