[Review] Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch – Nintendo Switch

Written by slimwiggins

Reviewed by Thomas

  • Developer: Level-5
  • Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
  • Release Date: 20/09/2019
  • Price: $49.99 / £49.99
  • Review code provided by BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment

Intro

I’ve said before and I’ll say it again. I couldn’t be happier that publishers and developers are porting their older titles to the Nintendo Switch. Not only can people who missed out the first time take advantage of experiencing a beloved game on a current console, the Nintendo Switch specifically gives the ability to play it on the go. When BANDAI NAMCO revealed Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch would join the vast library on the Nintendo Switch, I eagerly awaited its launch.

A Real Page Turner

I could easily write pages upon pages about the story in Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. As the game has been out for some time, I’ll start with a brief synopsis. You start the game as a young lad in a world not unlike our own. Oliver lives in Motorville, a quaint town where life seems simple. Through otherworldly magic, Oliver is placed in harm’s way. His mother selflessly sacrifices her own life to rescue him. As Oliver is enveloped in grief, he soon learns of his potential to stop an ancient evil in a parallel world and possibly save his mom at the same time.

Ni no Kuni has a marvelous story. Through its animated telling and impressive visuals it’s easy to get hooked. My children loved watching the game unfold so much that they would get mad at me anytime I played without them around. That says a lot for a massive role-playing game which the story is broken up by battles, fetch quests and traipsing all over a world map. My family and I fell in love with the tale of Oliver and his battle against evil. It takes on a fairy-tale quality and is reminiscent of stories I grew up on.

Fraught with Peril

Ni no Kuni is a sprawling adventure. You control Oliver around an interactive world map as well as cities and dungeons. Enemies are visible on the screen and given your skill, you can sneak up on them for an advantage in combat. One thing that stood out to me in Ni no Kuni was the use of spells outside of combat. Oliver has access to the Wizard’s Companion which allows him to access spells to change the surrounding environment. As the villain, Shadar has been taking hearts from occupants of the Other world, Ollie can repair them with a little help. The versatility of spells in and out of combat and how they are executed made for a unique and memorable experience.

The combat itself was a bit frustrating at times. Especially in the first ten hours or so of the game. Instead of being turn-based, combat is active. You can move Oliver or one of his familiars around the battle zone. My biggest lamentation was the lack of time to do what I wanted. Too often I would start an attack and get stuck in its time loop while a boss doled out a powerful move. Timing is everything. In order to defend and minimize an attack you have to switch to a character with a defensive ability and enact it before the attack hits. Pretty straightforward on paper. However, if found it was rarely the case. There were several times where the defend action would end right as the massive attack came and you take the brunt of the damage. During battle you can pick up orbs to replenish needed health or mana. Again, I didn’t feel like I had enough time to fully enjoy that perk. Mostly following a fight the game transitions to your victory dance leaving precious orbs wasted on the dirt.

The combat does improve over time. It helps when more allies join your cause. You can also capture enemies to fight for you as familiars. There is a whole mechanic about training them and evolvi… uh, metamorphosing them into better versions. It’s fun to try out new combinations with various creatures and see what power they unlock. Even with the improvements to combat, I was never fully satisfied with the method used for battle. It felt like a dated action RPG with sticky controls. Using the different arrows, bumpers, and buttons to manage a fight while running around became cumbersome at times and felt more like a chore than an engaging battle-system.

A Picturesque World

The art and graphics in Ni no Kuni are absolutely outstanding. I felt like I was in a fairy-tale land and every new area was as mesmerizing as the last. The transitions from cutscenes to gameplay were clear but felt seamless. The details in the character design and enemies are just as lovely. Even the creative names evoked a whimsical charm.

Livened with Enchanting Music

As equally gripping as the art and story is the music of Ni no Kuni. The melodic score transports you to a land of wonder and magic. The music blends with the changing world as Oliver moves from locale to locale. The entire package exudes charm and feels like a storybook nursery rhyme.

Completed Works, Satisfying Experience

I’d be lying if I said Ni no Kuni ran flawlessly but it did nearly so. I did encounter one crash early on. There was also a brief moment when the cutscene and voice over dialogue didn’t match up. It lasted for just a few sentences and I never ran into the issue again. Ni no Kuni played well on the Switch Lite in handheld mode and on the original Switch on the big screen. I did run into an issue using both Switches and save file problems but that’s a different story.

Final Wrap

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a fantastical tale with a memorable story. It is absolutely an experience that shouldn’t be missed despite tricky combat. If you enjoy role-playing adventures, then Ni no Kuni is worthy of a spot in your library.

Pros

  • Unforgettable Story
  • Remarkable Presentation
  • Memorable Music
  • Endearing Cast

Cons

  • Frustrating Combat

Verdict
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is an unforgettable experience deserving a place on your Switch and in your heart.
4/5

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