3 Things They Aren’t Saying (Enough) About Ni No Kuni: The Wrath of The White Witch

Piggy back ride!!!

Ni No Kuni has been out for a couple of weeks now, so I would be very surprised if this is the first review you have read.  For the time being, we have to post our reviews a little bit later than other sites.  Studios are not exactly clambering to send us review copies, and they must not be receiving our letters; so for now, we have to buy these games at the same time as everyone else.  On top of that, we all have these bothersome things called “full-time jobs” that warrant our attention for large portions of each day.  We would love to quit them, but then we would have to become professional bake salesman and/or criminals.  Baking is not really my thing, and these hands have seen enough bloodshed for one lifetime.  All things considered, your patience is greatly appreciated.

All that being said, I do not think it is necessary to rewrite all of the reviews from other sites.  Ni No Kuni is gorgeous, the soundtrack is great, blah, blah, blah…  You already know all that, right?  I have read a lot of these reviews too, and they all seem to hit on those major points.  Instead, I will focus on the aspects of the game that I think are the most underrepresented:

1.  It’s Accomodating

As we all know, JRPG’s have a bad reputation for making simple tasks needlessly grueling.  I am not talking about tough battles or long stretches of unavoidable grinding.  I am fine with those things, and Ni No Kuni may have plenty of both, depending on your strategy.  I am talking about the really pointless stuff.  You know… talking to every single person on the planet to find out what happened to some lady’s cat, camping the Cats N’ Dogs Crook for 4 hours because he only pops during a rainstorm, doing that 50 more times because the drop rate for that particular cat is only 2%, walking back across the entire planet to give that lady her cat back, and then apologizing to your family for missing your son’s soccer game.

Ni No Kuni does a great job of cutting out the unnecessary hassles of the JRPG genre.  I actually does an even better job than Xenoblade Chronicles, which I considered to be one of the most accommodating JRPG’s up until now.  Ni No Kuni gives players vehicular transportation early and fast travel shortly thereafter.  In what could easily be the game’s most annoying feature, many quests require Oliver to travel around the world looking for people who have overabundances of certain traits such as belief, enthusiasm, or kindness.  Completing these quests is as simple as talking to the right person, but the person can be located anywhere in the world.  Thankfully, everyone with these traits is highlighted in green on the minimap.  Once fast travel is unlocked, finding these people is as simple as zipping around from city to city looking for green dots.  Similarly, anyone with a quest to provide is highlighted in blue.  There is no need to repeatedly talk current events with everyone in a city.  We get it… there is a rich neighborhood and a poor neighborhood… do you have the master key or not?

The quests are not necessarily short, as they still require a bit of exploring and fighting.  They just do not force players to do unnecessary busy-work.  For those of you who hate your lives, all of those great features I just listed can be turned off in the settings, for a more authentic torture experience.

2.  It’s Easy

I have read a lot of reviews that say this game is difficult, even some that say it is too difficult, but that has not been my experience at all.  Granted, it is a JRPG, so you have to do certain things to advance.  Your entire party consists of monsters called familiars that you recruit through battle.  The difficulty-curve of the game seems to be designed expecting that players will make some effort to recruit and develop strong familiars.  That means camping.  That means grinding.  That means you read the box before you bought the game.  Personally, I immediately downloaded the familiar stat spreadsheet on Gamefaqs, spent a few hours hunting down my preferred team, and then grinded them up to comfortably high levels.  If you hit a wall of difficulty, you have some more work to do, but still probably not enough to call this game difficult.

Even if you just catch the familiars that you think look the coolest, as long as you spend time developing them and put some thought into the team’s chemistry, you will find yourself button-mashing through many of the battles that other reviewers have called difficult.  Even grinding is pretty easy in Ni No Kuni.  Early in the game, there is an island filled with monsters that give 2000 experience per kill, about 10-20 times that of a normal battle, depending on your level.  You should be able to take a familiar from level 1 to his final form in about an hour.  If you are having major difficulty in the boss fights, it might be time to seriously rethink your strategy.  I have one friend who had a lot of trouble with the boss fights.  It turns out he did not know all the buttons.  Did you know down on the d-pad switches directly to Oliver?  Did I just blow your mind?

If the consensus is that this game is difficult, then we are just spoiled.  Back in the day, we said that we “beat” games, because those games were trying to beat us.  This is not a game you will beat, but rather one that you will finish.  It is a game that fights with us, not at us.  Thus, if you are looking for a true challenge, you should probably look elsewhere.  You will pretty much be putting your party on autopilot for most fights if you spend the appropriate amount of time grinding.  There have been some complaints that the battle system is clunky and unforgiving, but I have not even noticed that since I rarely have to use the battle system in the first place.  Regardless, if you are into fun, gorgeous, charming games with unbelievable soundtracks, you will forgive Ni No Kuni fairly early for whatever perceptions you may have about the combat.  Easy, hard, clunky, smooth… whatever…  It’s a blast.

3.  It’s Addictive

The game gives you a whole lot to do.  The monster collecting alone is enough to put someone into rehab.  I mentioned that you could get by in the game, even if you only pursued and captured the cool-looking familiars.  There is one caveat.  There are all cool-looking!  Seriously, there is a feline cat-burglar named Purrrloiner.  You could package up that adorable and sell it!  Some of these familiar designs are enough to make a normal man smile and Jon giggle uncontrollably.  You will not mind grinding, because hunting new familiars is a lot of fun, and watching your current ones grow and evolve is enormously rewarding.  It is like parenting, minus responsibility, plus death matches… also minus sex, but you can’t have it all right?

Everything I have mentioned creates the purrrrfect storm (sorry…) for video game addiction.  Ni No Kuni requires a ton of grinding; but the game is accommodating enough that this is not a burden, easy enough that it is not frustrating, and rewarding enough that it does not feel pointless.  All things considered, fighting the same monster over and over again for 3 hours does not seem so bad.  If you have ever spent 8 hours of gameplay doing something you hated, imagine how many hours you will spend when you are doing something you enjoy.  There are a ton of areas to explore, a ton of familiars to catch, even more quests to complete, and you will probably find yourself wanting to do all of it.  Even if you are not a completionist, you may be converted when you step into this world.  I hope you have some sick days, because there are some late nights in your future.



Thomas Shamburger
Thomas is one of the original creators of "What's Jump?" As a lifelong gamer, writer, and comedian, his goal is to provide readers with humorous, entertaining, and thought-provoking perspectives on current gaming news and culture. His early career successes in the business world helped to pave the way for the site's launch in 2012. As the Editor in Chief of "What's Jump?" he combines his passions for gaming, writing, entrepreneurship, and comedy.
Thomas Shamburger
Thomas Shamburger

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