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Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - Staff Review

omegabyteomegabyte He's just this guy, you know?RPGamer Staff
edited February 2013 in Latest Updates
North American RPGamers have been waiting for almost 3 years to get their hands on some form of Ni no Kuni, Level-5 and Studio Ghibli's joint project. Now that it's available, how does it hold up to the hype?

Read the review here
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Comments

  • retrodragonretrodragon Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    Judging strictly by your own comments, I felt like a 3.5 was on the low end, but I appreciate the honesty. I know a lot of us are hoping this will finally be the "Uber JRPG" we have been waiting for on the current console gen, but it looks like this is not going to be the case. Although I have read some other reviews that were in the 4.0-4.5 range. Not disagreeing with you though, as I haven't played it myself yet. I will be picking it up soon, however, as story tends to be what really elevates a game for me, so I'm very much looking forward to it. Thanks for the review!
    Playing: Wild Arms 3, Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning, Star Ocean First Departure
    www.retrodragon.wordpress.com
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    edited February 2013
    My question is- is this game worth getting a PS3 for? When it came out, it sounded like the answer was Yes. But now that its been out for a few weeks and people are playing through it, I'm starting to hear a lot of "it's pretty, but meh".
  • RyumoauRyumoau Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    I really enjoyed the game, but its definetly not perfect. I think your review is very fair. I wish they handled catching familiars in a better manner than they did. Even with the item you get in the Swift reward shop that increases odds of taming a creature, it still only puts it at around 30% chance it seems. :(

    Btw, i had no idea the last story arc was added to this version. Was the White Witch not involved in the DS version at all? I would kinda be alittle pissed if the game ended with just the primary Goal. The ending was disappointing though but i never expect great endings in videogames anymore sadly.
    "To die without leaving a corpse....that is the way of the Garo"
    PSN id: Ryumoau
  • LOLOttertardLOLOttertard Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    I'm playing on the easy setting (by the way you should probably change "moderate" to "adjustable" since difficulty is, after all, adjustable, and little things like this can easily hurt a reviewer's credibility), but I think that even on that mode, mashing the button to have monsters constantly attack is in many instances a bad idea and a surefire path to defeat, and I've found myself using Oliver's healing spell quite often, and have ironically found boss fights to be a little easier than many normal encounters.
  • RyumoauRyumoau Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    smacd said:
    My question is- is this game worth getting a PS3 for? When it came out, it sounded like the answer was Yes. But now that its been out for a few weeks and people are playing through it, I'm starting to hear a lot of "it's pretty, but meh".
    i'm not sure any one game is ever worth buying a console for it alone. But there are other good jrpgs you can also play on the system like Tales of Graces F, Eternal Sonata, and Tales of Xilia coming in a few months. Not too mention you can get free games of various genres if you get PS Plus (most of the time a month trial is included in new PS3s). I think the system is great overall.
    "To die without leaving a corpse....that is the way of the Garo"
    PSN id: Ryumoau
  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    edited February 2013
    Simba B said:
    by the way you should probably change "moderate" to "adjustable" since difficulty is, after all, adjustable, and little things like this can easily hurt a reviewer's credibility
    Unless difficulty is something you can drastically change as you go, we don't use adjustable. If we did, we'd have to list adjustable on any game with a selectable difficulty. So what we do is just list how it stacks up on standard difficulty.
    "The universe is already mad. Anything else would be redundant."
    Twitter @FinalMacstorm
  • RazaRaza Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    The "White Witch" arc cheapens the story
    I actually felt that exact sentiment at the time I finished the game. In my opinion, it would have been much better to end the game with defeating Shadar.

    Still, it's a solid 4 for me. I was in love with the world map, especially collecting hidden items.
    A critic is someone who stands on the mountaintop high above to watch a battle, and then comes down to shoot the survivors.
    -Hemingway
  • OcelotOcelot is not declawed RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2013
    retrodragon said:
    Judging strictly by your own comments, I felt like a 3.5 was on the low end, but I appreciate the honesty. I know a lot of us are hoping this will finally be the "Uber JRPG" we have been waiting for on the current console gen, but it looks like this is not going to be the case. Although I have read some other reviews that were in the 4.0-4.5 range. Not disagreeing with you though, as I haven't played it myself yet. I will be picking it up soon, however, as story tends to be what really elevates a game for me, so I'm very much looking forward to it. Thanks for the review!
    I don't think there's such as thing as an "Uber JRPG" that everyone in the world will love. Ni No Kuni is that RPG for those of us who love fairy tale worlds and aren't picky about combat systems. For others like Adriaan who place a higher priority on combat systems, Ni No's has some definite weaknesses that are going to knock it down a few points.

    I think the game is a classic that many of us will remember fondly for years, and it's completely worth experiencing. A lot of its weaknesses are more apparent if you're doing a completionist runthrough, so at the very least the main campaign is going to be enjoyable to most RPGamers. I definitely want to see Studio Ghibli get involved in more RPG projects. My absolute dream RPG would involve a Miyazaki story with one of his wonderful heroines at the helm, though I have no idea if he's interested in such a project.
    Becky Cunningham, Staff-at-Large
    Twitter: BeckyCFreelance
  • scorpio_7scorpio_7 Tactic's Ogre I choose u! Full Members
    edited February 2013
    smacd said:
    My question is- is this game worth getting a PS3 for? When it came out, it sounded like the answer was Yes. But now that its been out for a few weeks and people are playing through it, I'm starting to hear a lot of "it's pretty, but meh".
    I agree more with this review and the 3.5 score more so than the kinder scores from other sites. This game is pretty with some nice elements... but definitely not "great". And no I would not recommend buying a system for it.... if these are 2-3 other games you want to buy on the system then go for it... but not just for this game. Good game... but not great.
  • HeideggerHeidegger New Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    I totally disagree that the "White Witch Arc" drags the story down, especially since it was carefully integrated into the game from the beginning, such that the PS3 version of the game wouldn't make sense if all elements of it were removed. Furthermore, without wanting to spoil anything, I found the close of the White Witch Arc to be a much better ending for the game, especially since the conclusion of and revelations in the previous arc made absolutely no sense.

    Other than that, the review is certainly fair. Combat is a point which many other sites have simply glossed over, and it deserves more than a little criticism. Not having any way for all of your characters to defend against a boss's big wind-up attack for half the game is frustrating on a level that is toxic.
  • SlayerSlayer Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    Thanks for your detailed review. I almost went to buy it on day 1 but replayed the demo instead. The battle system just does not give me what I need. However, I love almost everything else about the game.
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2013
    I didn't want to mention it before the overseas release, but I was disappointed with how much material was cut out of the PS3 version. There were two whole islands (with accompanying storyline) missing, and the addition of the Fairygrounds was cute but not quite enough to stretch over the holes in the game's second act. And then there was all the material left out of the ice cave and ghost pirate sections as well, not to mention the entire Haven section.... I really got the feeling that the developers were forced to make some hard choices in the name of expediency, and a lot of minor details were lost at the same time.
  • RealityCheckedRealityChecked Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    omegabyte said:
    ...it was literally over before I could even finish tweeting that it had started
    So true, and so unfortunate. I’ll never understand why 50+ hour games can find a way to screw that part up so often. As for the WW arc, without it there would have been many unanswered questions. However the answers it provided (and the execution) left much to be desired.

    All that said, I still enjoyed the game overall. Most of it seemed to capture a bit of magic missing in the more ‘modern’ rpg.
    Ocelot said:
    My absolute dream RPG would involve a Miyazaki story with one of his wonderful heroines at the helm...
    Yes, please.
  • ChickenGodChickenGod Overdosing Heavenly Bliss Moderators
    edited February 2013
    Heidegger said:
    I totally disagree that the "White Witch Arc" drags the story down, especially since it was carefully integrated into the game from the beginning, such that the PS3 version of the game wouldn't make sense if all elements of it were removed.
    I agree with you and Reality, Heidegger. The White Witch Arc seemed to be integrated from the very beginning, and as Reality points out, important questions like who Pea was, Horace's story, and the kingdom of Nazcaa would have left plenty of loose ends hanging in the air. Neither ending was particularly incredible, but I'm glad the first took the direction it did. The whole game went down this path of lets take out the evil big bad in a very straight laced, no nonsense traditional fashion. It was pleasant to see some of those plot twists, even though I expected them. At one point, I suspected that
    Spoiler:
    the whole world of Ni No Kuni was the overactive imagination of Oliver trying to cope with the loss of his mother (and clear lack of a father) at such a young age.


    Other than that the review does touch on some negative aspects I didn't like, such as the crappy monster catching mechanic, and how easy most random encounters can be. Agreed with the weird spells that were given to the player only to see no use. Also interesting to see that the Ghost Ship was actually explorable in another version too, Gaijin. To be honest though I'm pretty patient when it comes to dull turn-based battles, especially if they are avoidable as they usually are, dungeons withstanding, in Ni No Kuni. Clearly a certain crowd is going to love this game, especially the Dragon Quest and Monster Catching lovers, but even as someone who doesn't particularly care for either of those, the good still outweighed the bad enough that I felt it was a 4.0 experience.
    "Looks like Teach just got tenure!" - Teach
  • JitawaJitawa Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    The most annoying part of this game (to me) is how the use of a skill cancels your choices... there's no "queue" to speak of. So, I can switch to character C, and try to use a steal move.... only to be interrupted seconds after selecting it with Oliver's Mite using "Cut Loose". Being forced to watch the animation isn't a big deal, but your previous command with a completely separate character is voided and the skill wheel resets sort of - so when you get control back you're not even still on the same part of your menu... and the game has basically forced you to reselect your command - it's pure tedium.

    This dovetails particularly badly with the AI. You get choices like "Heal us/Support us/ Do whatever/ Do NOTHING". Choosing anything but "do nothing" resulted in Oliver interrupting me... EVERY. TIME. The tactics menu also appears to be inaccessible (unless I missed it) outside of the actual command wheel inside battle - which seems like a gross oversight (you also can't access it when you're using a familiar).

    The "no-use" spell thing bothered me as well - as well as spells that would seem to have obvious uses in some situation not being usable. I guess having DnD level freedom to solve problems with your spells would be out of character for a jrpg, but it was still a bit sad. I found the stories of some of the side quests mildly amusing, but I also felt talked down to by the tone in the game. Every broken-heart quest made me feel like I was watching Blue's Clues or something with Drippy explaining exactly what I had to find and exactly what to do both at the beginning and end of the quest. Maybe the game was intended for a much younger audience? It made me feel like it anyway.
  • CidolfasCidolfas Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    I'm about 10 hours in now and the game seems to be hovering around the "okay" mark. In particular they just opened up familiar collecting and I am almost certain I am going to hate the gameplay from here on in. I was hoping there'd be a bit of direction. The main reason I detest monster collecting is that there's simply no way of knowing ahead of time which monsters are worth training and which ones aren't without the help of an FAQ. I am not sinking dozens of hours into trying to use a monster effectively which, unbeknownst to me, the developers have decided isn't worth doing.
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2013
    ChickenGod said:
    Also interesting to see that the Ghost Ship was actually explorable in another version too, Gaijin.
    Oh, the ship wasn't explorable, mainly because it had never been launched in the DS version. The skeleton sailors were stuck in a cavern (the same one they put the sky pirate captain in the PS3 version, actually), building the darn battleship for the last thousand years or so. The compulsion put on them to get it finished was so strong that they came back from the dead just to keep working on it. They even had skeletal families there to support them. The only problem was, they never at any time had enough materials to finish the ship, so they kept stealing from each other and effectively sabotaging themselves for an entire millenium.
  • AirikAirik Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    Thank you, thank you for mentioning the last arc hurt the story. I could not agree more. While some of it was integrated throughout the rest of the game, the actual content itself (ie, battles and events) felt tacked on and lazy. I wish I hadn't played through that part because it weakened the overall presentation.

    The AI issues are certainly ridiculous. It's pretty much all or nothing. Even if you choose for the game to moderate skill use, it seems to have no effect at all, unless you choose "no skills at all."
  • pcaballepcaballe Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    I'm about 50 hours in and I have to say the combat IS a bit underwhelming. It feels like an enhanced version of White Knight Chronicles with a little Pokemon thrown in (I hate the combat in WKC). I do believe he was a little harsh with the score but hey, we each have our own opinion.
    “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”
    -Einstein
  • omegabyteomegabyte He's just this guy, you know? RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2013
    Cidolfas said:
    I'm about 10 hours in now and the game seems to be hovering around the "okay" mark. In particular they just opened up familiar collecting and I am almost certain I am going to hate the gameplay from here on in. I was hoping there'd be a bit of direction. The main reason I detest monster collecting is that there's simply no way of knowing ahead of time which monsters are worth training and which ones aren't without the help of an FAQ. I am not sinking dozens of hours into trying to use a monster effectively which, unbeknownst to me, the developers have decided isn't worth doing.
    Actually, that's a non-issue. Familiars level up and become strong at a much faster rate than the human characters, so you can experiment with new ones freely without having to worry.
    "It's okay to fail as long as you learn that you failed!" - Neptune, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory
    Follow me on Twitter
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  • LordKaiserLordKaiser Gaming Freedom Full Members
    edited February 2013
    The combat System ruined it for me. The game feels like a complete JRPG in every regard but.... I didn't liked the battle system.
    Never buy a game published by D3 Publisher that is not WKCII. They cheated on their fans by releasing a game that they didn't support not even for a year and they released a rushed translation.
  • PimpaliciousPimpalicious Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    I'm not really into the combat system either from the demo, but i decided to buy it anyway. Hopefully it grows on me but either way it's not terrible and won't stop me from finishing the game. But if it doesn't this will probably be a 3.5 game in my book as well.
  • ironmageironmage chaotic neutral observer SaskatoonFull Members
    edited February 2013
    I mostly agree with the review, at about 45 hours in. I'm currently scoring it 4.0, though; I've gotten used to the MP issues, and the random familiar recruiting doesn't bother me much. Still, it might have worked better if recruiting was triggered by feeding them a favorite treat when their HP was low, or something.

    It's probably too early, but I'm already kinda hoping for another game from the same production team (either a sequel, or a spiritual cousin).
    Only the livin' have the privilege of sayin' they'll fight ta the last breath.
    And words like conviction and resolve don't mean much to a dead man...
    --Raven (Tales of Vesperia)
  • NevegaNevega Where's the Casino??? Full Members
    edited February 2013
    I think the score is low. I'm about 12 hours in and I'm very impressed. Maybe for me, it's because I've never been into Pokemon, so it feels much more fresh. The battle system has plenty of diversity to keep it interesting. You essentially have 8 different party members available (at least where I'm at) all with various options. I haven't become bored with it. I'm over leveled, but if I cross over to certain areas I still find myself being beaten so there is a challenge there.

    The style and direction is top notch and I'm very engaged in the story/world.

    I'm at an "A" score right now, or a 4.5.
    CURRENTLY PLAYING:
    Tales of Xillia
    Project X-Zone

    RECENTLY FINISHED
    Ni No Kuni: B+
    Castlevania Mirror of Fate: B-
    Fire Emblem (3DS): B
  • hoktomasterhoktomaster Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    Apparently this game didn't do as well as they hoped in japan
    I wouldn't even bother to Eat that coz your already dead

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  • CidolfasCidolfas Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    omegabyte said:
    Actually, that's a non-issue. Familiars level up and become strong at a much faster rate than the human characters, so you can experiment with new ones freely without having to worry.
    Even if they level up faster than humans, it's still an investment, whether it's 20 minutes or 2 hours - there's no way to tell from a familiar's first form whether their final one will be useful, and while I'm experimenting I'm intentionally crippling myself in battles. Gone are the days when I can sink dozens of hours into a game trying to get everything. I'll likely just read an FAQ telling me what to do (like I did for FF13-2), which is a shame.
  • ChickenGodChickenGod Overdosing Heavenly Bliss Moderators
    edited February 2013
    Cidolfas said:
    Even if they level up faster than humans, it's still an investment, whether it's 20 minutes or 2 hours - there's no way to tell from a familiar's first form whether their final one will be useful, and while I'm experimenting I'm intentionally crippling myself in battles. Gone are the days when I can sink dozens of hours into a game trying to get everything. I'll likely just read an FAQ telling me what to do (like I did for FF13-2), which is a shame.
    While I suppose thats one potential flaw in monster catching games, I just don't see the difficulty in NNK being nearly hard enough on the toughest setting to warrant needing specific familiars. From my perspective you're just supposed to have fun with it and pay minimal attention to the outcome, like Pokemon with EVs and IVs (unless you're into that sort of thing of course).

    What I will agree on is that since all Familiars gain experience at once, that low level Purrloiner or whatever you catch early on will always have a major experience edge on whatever you catch later in the game. You're right that it does feel like a waste of time when one good Familiar is constantly growing, and your experimental Familiar isn't to your liking, but now that powerful one is strong enough to overshadow the use of future candidates. Frankly I got almost no use out of half my team, since you can only get an Auroralynx, Ice Maiden, Fightingale, or Medixx until later in the game. Its frustrating when there's really no reason to switch from your well raised Puss In Boats unless you just wanna mess around. By many people's estimation the regular fights aren't worth taking less time just to use a different Familiar to attack with based on novelty alone.
    "Looks like Teach just got tenure!" - Teach
  • JitawaJitawa Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    It IS a beautiful game. If they cleaned up the battle system and balance issues, and maybe made the side-quests less blatantly repetitive with Drippy repeating himself all the time - I think it'd be a great franchise.
  • hyperknees91hyperknees91 Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    Once again a game that proves having AI in a semi-action rpg simply doesn't work very well.

    They really needed to rip off devil summoner 2 and give you a button that makes all your party members invincible while you hold it (but also allows them to do nothing). Seriously would fix most of the problems in most action rpgs with party members.
  • JitawaJitawa Member Full Members
    edited February 2013
    hyperknees91 said:
    Once again a game that proves having AI in a semi-action rpg simply doesn't work very well.

    They really needed to rip off devil summoner 2 and give you a button that makes all your party members invincible while you hold it (but also allows them to do nothing). Seriously would fix most of the problems in most action rpgs with party members.
    I think AI in games like Tales is typically pretty ok. Tales games often give you more granular control over abilities though (toggling on or off individual abilities for party members). AI controlled NPCs in Dark Souls or Demon's Souls weren't completely horrible either. Dragon's Dogma also gives you a hand in shaping NPC AI, and it can function quite well.

    Ni No Kuni... is just kinda crap in this respect. In an age where games have been getting better at this, it was horrible.
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