Ni no Kuni Review: The Threat of the White Witch

Imagine a world where your cat can become the King of an entire country, a world where every person you know has a kindred soul, where the owner becomes the pet and vice versa, imagine a world where magic exists and is the key to save all creation.
Level 5, which has accustomed us to masterpieces such as the saga of Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven and Rogue Galaxy, joins Studio Ghibli, known to fans of animated cinema for works such as Porco Rosso, Howl's Moving Castle and Laputa , and create this second world, giving us Ni no Kuni: The Threat of the White Witch.

Another world

Ni no Kuni literally means "The World of Two"; within the game, however, everything has been translated by Namco Bandai with an accommodating "Other World" this because, according to what is explained to us in the first hour of the game, there are many other worlds besides ours and Ni no Kuni .
Oliver, our protagonist, is a kid like many others: he lives with his mother and spends his time creating trouble with his friend Phil.
Studio Ghibli has accustomed us with his works that happiness is not lasting, and soon Oliver's life will be upset by a tragic event: within a few minutes, after having morally devastated us (also thanks to an excellent dubbing in Japanese that gives pathos to the situation, unlike the English one, ed) another of the game's protagonists will appear, Lucciconio, the King of the fairies who, using the Roman dialect (Osaka dialect in the original language) will propose a way to regain what he has lost .
Oliver will have to go to the world of Lucciconio (the Ni no Kuni, in fact) and save him from Shadar, the black Genius, a powerful wizard who threatens the other world.
It is really difficult to try to write this review without risking giving any risky indication of plot spoilers, one of the real milestones of the game, just think of the phrase with which the trailer is advertised: "How far would you go to save a person who do you love?".
And here then Oliver discovers that he has magical powers, and obtained a wand from a twig that was nearby (which in reality ... you will find out for yourself) casts the first of the many game spells, "Transmundi" and arrives in the elusive Ni no Kuni.
As mentioned in the introduction, every person in Oliver's world has a kindred soul in the other world and if unfortunately something were to happen to one of the two souls, the other would also be affected.
For the 50 hours of the main story (which will arrive on the hundred with over 150 subquests, most of which will be unlocked once the game is over) we will make countless trips between the Ni no Kuni and the city of Oliver, because coincidentally, all the important people of the world of Lucciconio , they live in Motorville, the village of our protagonist.

Traveling with a broken heart

Unfortunately, many of the prominent characters of Ni no Kuni were attacked by Shadar - it's up to you to find out if in their world or in Oliver's - and after the battle they became Hearthless.
What is a Heartbreak? She is a person who lacks a piece of heart, not literally but figuratively, so a fearful person proves to be in reality a Heartbreak whose Courage has been stolen, a woman who spends too much does it only because she lacks the Discipline , a girlfriend who from one day to the next doesn't want to see you anymore, she only does it because her Love has been stolen.
And here is Oliver has the solution. Thanks to a bottle, the Portacuore, which will be given to us almost immediately after the explanation of the Heartbreakers, and to two spells, he will be able to collect from people who have too much of a quality and give it to those who are lacking; therefore a child who lends all her books can give us a little Kindness, a guard in good shape and ready for duty can give us a little Enthusiasm and so on. The Heartbeat and Heartbreakers are great protagonists of the first part of the game and of many of the Ni no Kuni subquests.
In addition to his spells, and the companions who will join the party, Oliver can count on the help of the Familiars: anthropomorphic monsters who share life and magic points with their master. Precisely this sharing of statistics distinguishes them from far more famous and far more numerous rivals (although the total pets are more than 400). Each Familiar has the classic RPG values ​​(except, as mentioned, of VP and MP) and like the masters they can be equipped with weapons, shields and armor of various kinds; if fed the right way (a familiar might be fond of chocolate and grow specifically in the attack) the affinity with Oliver - or with another member of the party - will increase, allowing further stat improvements. By accumulating experience and leveling up, the Familiar can make a metamorphosis, and become more powerful, even if the level will return to 1. The choice is yours whether to transform it by giving it one of the (initially) rare Drops, or try to reach a useful level to learn. new techniques.
There would be many other practical aspects of the Familiars to analyze, but it is somewhat complicated to explain them in a few lines, and above all we do not want to take away all the fun; we only tell you that at some point you can start capturing even the wild monsters, thanks to a party member, even if again, unlike the more famous rivals themselves, the capture will be based mostly on luck and not on your skills of battle.

This crazy Battle System

We now come to the core of Ni no Kuni's gameplay, the battle system. During the game there will be countless times in which we will have to face wild familiars, gigantic bosses, or runaway robots; each member of our party will be usable, both human and non-human, and can have up to a maximum of three Pets available. Each Familiar will be able to stay on the field only for a certain period, after which it will need a little rest, therefore the strategic component comes into play that allows the player to implement a tactic better suited to his style. The attacks will be turn-based, even if not in the classic sense of the term, after having performed a special technique we will have to wait a certain amount of time to be able to redo it, but in the meantime we can change the attack or why not, character.
While the player will use one of the characters, the others will be controlled by the CPU, and here we see the first big flaw of the Level 5 RPG: theAI practically non-existent. Not only do teammates not do what they are told via the tactics menu (heal me, cover my back, act freely, etc ...) but they use MPs without criteria, using destructive spells against nearly dead enemies, and not against terrifying ones Boss. To help us comes at least the function "Everyone in Attack / Defense" (placed on the triangle and square keys during the battles) which allows us at least to spare us unnecessary resurrections due to non-compliance with the order. Last sore point: if we are performing a special move, and one of our companions is performing another one, ours will be canceled and will have to be reselected at the end of the companion's animation, quite unpleasant event when trying to capture a familiar in a certain time frame.
Between one Boss and another there will certainly be things to do, and we will be able to explore the vast open world game world, littered with wild pets and materials to collect. Or we could have fun with Bounty Hunts, battles against optional monsters, which will give us precious tools and equally useful stamps to be able to enhance our hero. Also from "Solutions on the fly", in addition to the aforementioned hunts we will be able to perform almost 100 other subquests, which unfortunately are quite repetitive, except for the few unlockable after the end of the main story. All those that will be added to the list during Oliver's adventure will instead be divided into four different types, from recovering a certain object, to saving a broken heart, creating a tool with alchemy and finally capturing certain familiars.
A cauldron will soon be added to the main menu where we can create our objects, or delicacies to give to the Familiars, collecting recipes from around the world or improvising (or peeking into the special section of the Abbeccedabra, ed), too bad that, if by randomly mixing the ingredients we fortunately obtain an object, the recipe will not be saved, and we will have to remember it by heart for the future.

The foundations of Ni no Kuni

After analyzing the plot and gameplay, it is now a must to talk about the technical sector and then dedicate a few words of praise to extraordinary music by Joe Hisaishi, a well-known collaborator of Studio Ghibli who, thanks to the different pieces of the game, manages to transport us with the utmost identification with Oliver in the Ni no Kuni. These wonderful music blend completely with both the game's cel-shaded sequences, and with those animated by Studio Ghibli itself, giving emotions to lovers of the genre and not.
Furthermore, the work done by the translators to leave nothing incomplete is also worthy of praise: Ni no Kuni is completely in Spanish, up to the last page of the digital Abbeccedabra, including stories and legends.
Speaking of the latter, spending a few words for lovers of the genre is the least that can be done. If you have the patience to complete your 100% Abbeccedabra you will notice how the two teams have managed to create a real world in its own right, with legends, history and geography consistent with itself and nothing, not even the smallest detail, left in suspended.
In this generation quite mediocre for the JRPG (there have been worthy titles it is true but they can be counted on the fingers of both hands), Ni no Kuni is the light that was needed, the hope for lovers of the genre and for those who want to approach a role-playing game for the first time. A title that we will hardly forget.

Verdict 8/10 Aò! Comment Stocks such as Ni no Kuni should not be underestimated. While far from perfect, they can be used as guidelines for other developers to get back on track and start making worthy titles again. The collaboration between Level 5 and Studio Ghibli is a complete success, so much so that anyone who falls in love with Ni no Kuni will soon want another title from the two teams. Pros and cons A classic RPG within everyone's reach
Sensational aesthetics and music
All the magic of Studio Ghibli x AI of the companions practically non-existent
x Not very useful battle tactics
x Repetitive subquests

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