A role-playing game that works in an extraordinary world.

Few games look better than their next, but then Ni No Kuni is an exception to most rules. It debuted on PC for the first time after its successor, the much-loved Revenant Kingdom last year, taking visual signals from Wrath of the White Witch, but made without the direct involvement of Studio Ghibli. This re-version doesn’t quite come as a surprise as the original version did six years ago on the PS3, but with Ghibli’s distinctive world-building and common animations it’s still a great thing.

However, before you head to the autumn forests and icy caves, you’ll spend some time in Motorville. When his mother died, a boy named Oliver traveled to a fanciful world in the hope of bringing her back to life. He is joined by Drippy, a waterdrop-shaped fairy with a lantern dangling at the end of his nose, who is easily the best reason to stick with the English dubbing. Growing up and breaking wise in his rich Welsh burr – the highlight of a rather amazing localization in every way – he’s one of the most compelling partner characters in any NGO. Sometimes, some people may find him overly frivolous, but he is always on the right side of annoyance.

Then again, Drippy contributes to the game’s approach to the problems you encounter, whether it’s a tough boss or an environmental puzzle. Throughout the game, Oliver receives a series of spells that allow him to unlock doors and chests, or restore withered mushrooms into spring steps. He can even collect emotions from people with too much emotion: with permission, a lively villager will hand over their excess excitement so oliver can look for a looming guardian. But the solution is almost always delivered to you on a plate, leaving you with no room to solve everything for you. I’m not sure its nanny tendenth is explained by the fact that, you know, for children – children are brighter than the games aimed at them that they often record.

Combining command-based and real-time elements, the combat system is hardly so simple. You can control Oliver — although the stick he started had very little effect and the wand he had for a few hours didn’t improve much either. So for the most part, you should leave him on the sidelines and instead rely on a variety of familiar, friendly creatures that you will find throughout your adventure and you can nurture and bond between encounters.

Location and timing are key: you’ll directly control your familiars, while ordering them to attack, defend or dodge. Clear tips and long shots for powerful attacks give you the opportunity to perform counterattacks or cause your opponents to miss you, making them vulnerable to attacks in a short time. You’ll need to quickly collect items that pick up inishable blood and falling magic as well as rare golden ores that allow for special attacks dedicated to each familiar person. You’ll need to turn them out when they’re tired, while element power encourages you to chop and change depending on which opponent you’re facing.

In places, it can feel confusing and complex rather than profound, and in the early part of the game you can stay away from sending your most powerful familiar things and simply repeat the attack command. But when new characters and their acquaintances join your team, opening up new tactical abilities —AI isn’t perfect, but you can get them to focus on healing or full-strength slope when a monster is stunned – it becomes self-made. It can borrow many different bits and pieces from other games but it combines them into something separate. And while monsters are not Ghibli’s classic designs, they are still cute enough and personality-ed out to keep you pretty attached to them.

By comparison, the story is more traditional, although a sophisticated script constantly creates a bit of flavor for some fairly old JRPG games. Find the great sages! Search for magic stones! As such, the attraction lies not in wondering what interesting plot development awaits you next (because, without anything) but the beautiful new context you’re about to visit — and in Wrath of the White Witch, even the sewers are lovely. Technically, it’s just a small improvement over the original, although with the hetero-directional filtering and jag reduction feature and the option to un-limit the frame rate make it the most beautiful, best-performing version of an inherently beautiful game.

Having Ghibli’s regular composer Joe Hisaishi involved: subtle and pleasant in emotional, great and profound moments in battle, his score makes the game almost as good as it looks. Your movement speed on the field map is very slow, each trip to the next area is terminated by encounters with cannibal enemies with a machine gun, but Hisaishi makes it all feel like an adventure. As you progress, you will gradually fill an in-game lavish object that acts as a me medo in your journey. It’s great that you occasionally glance at it to see how far you’ve come.

In theory, that sounds grislyly sweet, though there are hints of hidden darkness throughout Ghibli’s best work, even if it’s hardly the Grave of the Fireflies. Wrath of the White Witch is traditionally an error and lacks the kingdom-building element of the sequel, but it creates a period of more than 40 hours of mostly enjoyable, indo regular escaping fun.

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Written by Lauren Morton

Lauren loves long books and even longer RPGs. She got a game design degree and then, stupidly, refused to leave the midwest. She plays indie games you haven't heard of and will never pass on a story about players breaking games or playing them wrong.


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