Ni No Kuni: Wrath of The White Witch – Review
A recurring question entered my mind as I booted up Ni No Kuni: is this the game that will spark the evolution of the JRPG? Or is it a mutated abomination?
Then it grabbed me by the nipples with its arresting visual flair. The game is the end result of a collaboration between Dark Cloud creators, Level 5 and Studio Ghibli, who are basically the Japanese Disney; creating classic anime films such as Spirited Away.
The Japanese animation inspired visual design feels like injecting a rainbow into your retina, or getting slapped by the ocean on a summer’s day.
Vivid strokes of colour dance across the screen as the characters interact animatedly. The animation, in the Ghibli created cutscenes especially, is remarkable. At times, you actually feel as though you’re inside of a Ghibli classic and you feel like a kid again. (Unless you are a kid and then you’ll just feel like you, I suppose, albeit with a happy eyeball).
One of the things I noticed, and I know it doesn’t sound very impressive on paper/the internet, is how the main character actually has a dedicated animation for descending stairs. The JRPG evolution has arrived! I don’t mean to sell it short (I was actually impressed) as this really is a big deal in a genre more interested in stats, than aesthetics and immersion.
Most JRPG’s are focussed on the aforementioned stats and stories. Ni No Kuni is no different – except the story is much more relatable than your standard JRPG fare. Oliver, a boy of thirteen, lives in small-town America, called Motorville, complete with white picket fences and OCD afflicted gardeners.
The story starts out with its feet firmly planted in the realms of reality and promptly burrowing deeper into the rabbit-hole.
After a traumatic experience in the ‘real world’, Oliver is promptly whisked off to a parallel version of his reality by his stuffed toy, Drippy, who came to life after being activated by the tears of the crying boy.
Drippy claims to be Lord, High Lord of the fairies, in a land called Ni No Kuni, where Oliver may be able to fix the cause of his recent trauma. in the process stopping the evil Shaddar, who is stealing portions of peoples’ hearts.
There are hints throughout, that the fantasy world you’re spirited to, is just that… a fantasy. The experiences faced by the young Oliver, are enough to make anyone retreat into a fabrication in the recesses of their mind. It’s always hinted, but never explicitly stated, making for a more interesting and involving narrative for an inquisitive mind.
The alternate dimension is filled with doppelgangers of the people Oliver knows back in his hometown, and even some of the animals. Also, when he is inside Motorville (as you travel between worlds to overcome certain problems) nobody acknowledges his otherworldy companions.
If Ni No Kuni is a construct of Oliver’s mind, he must have the disposition of an artist.
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