Games I Play - Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
The “Games I Play” blog is a new series of blogs I will be writing. In these blogs I will give my brief thoughts about a game I recently completely, and a quick review score at the end. I really want to do a series like this because not only do I want to give people my impressions on a game, but I want to keep track of what games I’ve completed. I also am going to to “try” to keep these blogs shorter, making general observations instead of going into a big in depth review of the game like I have previously done. With that being said, let’s get into it and I hope you enjoy!
I recently completed Ni No Kuni: Wraith of the White Witch last week. To get out with it, I was definitely let down by the game. Perhaps the hype and anticipation were too much. Even still, with lots of reviews giving this game a 9+ star rating and many “Best JRPG of the current generation” accolades, I had very high hopes for the game. Just the very fact that Studio Ghibli was a part of it got me excited as those guys always have produced very interesting and unique films. Level 5 (The game developer) has a good history as well.
In the end though, Ni No Kuni was somewhat of a very plain experience to me. The story was extremely predictable and went pretty much like what every other JRPG story does. I didn’t really feel too much connection with any of the characters in the game, and the only one that would amuse me from time to time was Drippy, Oliver’s fairy companion.
I have a lot of other complaints about the game as well. To me, the game almost felt like this giant fetch quest. The worse was when the game would frequently throw some menial task at you to get you to backtrack before you could accomplish your current goal. For example, you might have a goal to visit a certain person or place to advance the story. Just as you are right outside their door, the game kicks into cutscene mode and next thing you know you have to go help some random person or something (usually with some dumb fetch quest), and are unable to complete your primary goal till doing this annoying task. This happens very frequently in the game.
Towards the end game, there also seemed to be a very severe lack of new towns to visit and stores to shop. I ended up amassing this huge pile of gold in my last 15 hours of play because I literally could not find a new town with stores to upgrade my equipment or buy new ones. A lot of the end of the game was simply backtracking between earlier towns. All and all, this is a game that is filled with archaic gameplay mechanics of old school RPGs. Things like fetch quests and tons of backtracking run rampant in the game. In 2013, I think games should be past these old mechanics.
There were a lot of things I did like about Ni No Kuni though. For one, the Art style in the game is fantastic. This is one of the best looking games I have played this year; it really is stunning. The voice acting was also not too bad, leading to believable characters. Sticking in the presentation category, the music was a bit hit or miss, but a majority of the songs were on the good side. They definitely had a Studio Ghibli feel, perhaps my only complaint about the music being that the songs sounded too “cinematic” to be in a game. I was expecting much more ambient music, but the music in Ni No Kuni is usually quite bold (with blaring brass and impactful strings), even for quiet towns. Another annoyance is that their are only two battle songs throughout the entire game, one for normal encounters, and one for bosses, and neither are very good to warrant wanting to hear them over and over.
I did actually enjoy the battle and familiar systems, as confusing as they kind of are. The battle system in Ni No Kuni is quite intrinsic and deep, but still accessible for people that don’t want to dive into the complexities like counter attacking, utilizing favorite familiar buffs, or special opportunity attacking. I actually really liked that the battles in the game were on the tough side, but along with this meant some unnecessary grinding in spots. I probably died a good 40 times playing the game, which is probably 10 times more what I normally die in most RPGs these days on the normal setting. I don’t think I ever felt the battle system was unfair or cheap though. It was a good challenge.
Side questing and bounty hunts were another really fun aspect of the game, allowing you to acquire gold, new items, and merit points for completing new tasks or killing certain special enemies. The merit points then could be used for buying character upgrades. I was pretty much addicted to the system, even if some of the quests required some tedious backtracking. The rewards were just very substantial, so it was worth the work. I was sad to see side quests disappear though (just like shops and new towns did) in the last third of the game.
To wrap it up though, Ni No Kuni was an enjoyable experience, but certainly not a game that I believe lived up to some of the high reviews or hype I’ve seen for it. The game is plagued with old archaic mechanics like fetch quests, grinding, and backtracking, and it really was a big downer on the experience for me. Sometimes I found myself doing an hour’s worth of menial random tasks just so I could talk to the person I needed to. Only once the game would set you free from a chain of tedious tasks would the game shine as you explored the well crafted and exciting world. Ni No Kuni is a beautiful looking game with great world exploration, a challenging and unique battle system, and a decent plot. This is a game that is definitely worth playing if you are a JRPG fan. If you are new to the JRPG, I would warn to tread carefully into this unique title.
My Score: 7/10
1 - 2 = Terrible
3 - 4 = Bad
5 - 6 = Just OK, good for fans
7 - 8 = Good
9 = Excellent
10 = Must play!
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|tylerh1701 - 03-04-2013, 12:14 PM|
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