Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Review

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I have to wait til February to get this game, can't wait, it looks brilliant. Guess, I'll occupy myself with more Xillia 2 in the meantime.

Our young hero is Oliver, a brainless gorp of a child who lacks the deductive reasoning skill of your average sandwich bag.

...DAAAAMN Susan. That's harsh.

Negative Nancy ain't cha?

Elamdri:

Our young hero is Oliver, a brainless gorp of a child who lacks the deductive reasoning skill of your average sandwich bag.

...DAAAAMN Susan. That's harsh.

That was my favourite quote from the whole review xD

OT: this is pretty much what I expected: beautiful landscapes/artstyle, but tedious gameplay. I'm glad Susan's review draws a different picture from Kotaku's hyped up articles.

Eeesh. I like the art style and the familiars stuff sounds fun, and it's already more interesting than most of the stuff on the market by the virtue of not taking place behind a gun barrel, but it also sounds like it includes everything I hate about JRPGs. Maybe I'll wait for a price cut or two before checking this one out...

Wow, really not expecting this review. Every other one I've read has been nothing but how perfect the game is (including talking about how great the main character is). I'm not saying this review is wrong (a. haven't played it yet, b. knowing Susan, this is probably the most dead on and honest one out there), just surprising.

Still, I've had my eye on this game a long time, and the positives, particularly that art, are enough to warrant a purchase.

I kinda wish this was a video review.

I've played so many jrpgs that grinding just comes naturally anyway.
Judging by the demo, I might have to grind 20 or so battles right off the bat, just to get a handle on the battle system.

For those looking to compare/contrast I suggest reading Jim's review here.
Also 3.5 out of 5 is not a bad score... it's above average.

Elamdri:
I kinda wish this was a video review.

We'll be following up with a video!

Eclipse Dragon:
I've played so many jrpgs that grinding just comes naturally anyway.
Judging by the demo, I might have to grind 20 or so battles right off the bat, just to get a handle on the battle system.

So here's the problem with that. You don't get multiple familiars for yonks, and adding companions takes even longer. So you won't really begin getting the hang of the combat's potential until, oh...I'd say a good 15 or so hours in.

Susan, thank you for saving me $60. It looked pretty, but I was hoping it would divert from and not adhere to JRPG tropes. Back to Professor Layton and waiting for the next Miyazaki movie.

Susan Arendt:

So here's the problem with that. You don't get multiple familiars for yonks, and adding companions takes even longer. So you won't really begin getting the hang of the combat's potential until, oh...I'd say a good 15 or so hours in.

I wasn't really talking about using the battle system to it's full potential immediately, I was just thinking about knowing it enough to not get my arse handed to me tooooo often... Did you at any point want to break your controller?

Eclipse Dragon:

Susan Arendt:

So here's the problem with that. You don't get multiple familiars for yonks, and adding companions takes even longer. So you won't really begin getting the hang of the combat's potential until, oh...I'd say a good 15 or so hours in.

I wasn't really talking about using the battle system to it's full potential immediately, I was just thinking about knowing it enough to not get my arse handed to me tooooo often... Did you at any point want to break your controller?

Oh god. So many times. All the time. You will, in all seriousness, handle yourself well in a boss fight and then get one-shotted by the first random monster you run into in the next area. The little fantasy squirrel is more lethal than the enormous boss you just killed? I'm sorry, WHAT?

Mechanically, the battle system is easy to understand and use - but once you start getting more options, and, say, want to switch between familiars so one can cast a buff before another does his attack, or you want to switch to your companion so you can heal the party or recruit a new familiar...that's when it gets clunky.

That difficulty cliff.. I mean curve sounds a lot like 7th Saga on the SNES. I really wanted to like that game, the characters and mechanics were really cool, but the extremely forced grind elements literally had you stuck for hours fighting random mobs just so you were strong enough to cross a bridge or pass a cave into the next area. Fight a boss? Great! Now get killed by the next random mosquito you run into! It killed any enjoyment the game offered and even after repeated play attempts I never made it more than maybe 20 hours into the game.

I'm far more partial to Jim's review on this, having played a Japanese copy of the game myself for a bit (not beaten it though). I simply don't agree with Susan here. I think she's just mentally approaching the game with a different mindset than what it was trying to deliver. Nothing wrong with that, of course. Though I also personally don't think the battle system is as clunky as she makes it out to be.

That's disappointing to hear. Certainly even Studio Ghibli has made its mis-steps, but I'd much rather see them attached to a game that one would willingly play if it wasn't accompanied by their artistic touch- and it sounds like that isn't the case with White Witch.

Sounds absolutely terrible.
And it reminds me of my experience with Dark Cloud 2
'Oh hey, Gamespot says this is the playstation's Zelda, and the game looks absolutely gorgeous'
*Plays it*
'Oh god the gameplay is shit D:...And the characters are fucking idiotic....and the mechanics are poorly implemented...HOW DID THIS GET A 9.0?!'

And after that i never trusted Gamespot on anything, ever.
(That and them giving Silent Hill 2 a 7.2 , jackasses)

l3o2828:
Sounds absolutely terrible.
And it reminds me of my experience with Dark Cloud 2
'Oh hey, Gamespot says this is the playstation's Zelda, and the game looks absolutely gorgeous'
*Plays it*
'Oh god the gameplay is shit D:...And the characters are fucking idiotic....and the mechanics are poorly implemented...HOW DID THIS GET A 9.0?!'

And after that i never trusted Gamespot on anything, ever.
(That and them giving Silent Hill 2 a 7.2 , jackasses)

to be fair, I was extremely excited for Dark Cloud 2 when it came out.

I beat it, and was left wondering what all the fuss was about for its underdeveloped world and only occasional moments of interest.

I enjoyed ni-no-kuni quite a bit more. If anything I found it more genuinely charming.

That was a very interesting review. I don't know, maybe I was reading it wrong but most of the review seemed to be loathe and hatred for the game, then it's summed up as "All things considered, not a bad game."

I've also heard from another reviewer I trust that the difficulty can be brutal. Given my experience with the second part of the demo I can see that as believable. I also think the problem with Oliver isn't a problem with him so much as the writers putting in needless hand-holding for the player. Well, hand-holding as far as "where to go next."

I've read a couple other reviews of this game, and I think this one is bit more honest about the grinding. I like grinding and I like to think of of it as going into a zen like state and whatnot. From what I can tell this game won't let me do that, unless I'm reading into that, but I don't think it will be that big of a problem for me.

Still, I was excited when I heard that this was a thing, and I will still get it despite some of the BS difficulty that it seems to pull. Never played a Level 5 game, so why not start here.

Susan Arendt:

Elamdri:
I kinda wish this was a video review.

We'll be following up with a video!

Well good, I was about to suggest the Escapist was short changing this game by not having a video review ;)

Review score is understandable, really depends on whether or not your a fan of the classic JRPG style. Not a lot of people are and JRPG's started streaming these elements out of the genre in the latter SNES days. If you're for it it's probably a 5/5 game, if not 3.5/5 seems about right. I'm definitely for it, for example I just got into a Genesis collection on Steam and have started through the Phantasy Star series, going to beat #2 this time without using a map book. Finding it much better this way actually because I'm spending a lot more time taking multiple attempts to figure out my way through these ridiculous dungeons that I haven't needed to do any mindless grinding to afford new equipment.

...Unfortunately I still need to get a PS3 so can't play Ni No Kuni will have to wait. This is the game to finally sell me on the system though.

With this one I'm cautious not to let my love of Ghibli get the better or me. Personally, I don't have much against grinding, but I do get easily offput by combat systems that aren't very welcoming from the getgo and silly difficulty fluctuations. I'll just watch a bit before deciding. :)

l3o2828:
Sounds absolutely terrible.
And it reminds me of my experience with Dark Cloud 2
'Oh hey, Gamespot says this is the playstation's Zelda, and the game looks absolutely gorgeous'
*Plays it*
'Oh god the gameplay is shit D:...And the characters are fucking idiotic....and the mechanics are poorly implemented...HOW DID THIS GET A 9.0?!'

And after that i never trusted Gamespot on anything, ever.
(That and them giving Silent Hill 2 a 7.2 , jackasses)

Spheda. *shudder*

That said, I actually liked Dark Cloud 2, but then again, I went into it with virtually no expectations. Plus I'm a sucker for anything with photography in it.

I haven't played it myself yet, but I have watched quite a few videos. Seems to me that it's more like the older SNES era JRPG and less like the more recent PS2/PS3 offerings, at least in terms of gameplay mechanics. And you know what? I'm totally fine with that, I played those RPGs growing up. Those mechanics, plus Ghibli's amazingly beautiful art? Bring it on.

I think if you have a lot of free time, if you're older than 20 and you appreciate JRPGs and Miyazaki movies, you'll love it. If not... you'll be frustrated. And yes, I get it, that's a lot of ifs.

AldUK:
I haven't played it myself yet, but I have watched quite a few videos. Seems to me that it's more like the older SNES era JRPG and less like the more recent PS2/PS3 offerings, at least in terms of gameplay mechanics. And you know what? I'm totally fine with that, I played those RPGs growing up. Those mechanics, plus Ghibli's amazingly beautiful art? Bring it on.

I think if you have a lot of free time, if you're older than 20 and you appreciate JRPGs and Miyazaki movies, you'll love it. If not... you'll be frustrated. And yes, I get it, that's a lot of ifs.

I'm older than 20, appreciate JRPGs and Miyazaki movies and I can't stand the game. I absolutely understand why folks would enjoy it, but let's not assume that those of us who don't are doing something wrong.

So... Pokemon + FFXIII fighting system?

Aside from the difficulty curve swinging wildly (like, there's no-one saying you can't advance until you beat the Gym leader) that's the impression I got from this review... am I close?

>Random encounters
>Turn based battles

Final fantasy got rid of turn based battles more than 20 years ago, not that the genre has expunged them but they're an ancient concept. Random encounters are even worse, a way to make up for a lack of hardware power on early consoles that got crystallized as a genre convention because of tradition and nostalgia. Both of them detract from an RPG experience and neither belong in the game.

I don't agree with the character/story assessment. And I'm all on top of old school battle systems like ye olden Final Fantasy's and older Pokemon, so couldn't this have been prefaced with " I hate grinding and if you do you will here also". This is the sort of game that a lot of JRPG fans have been waiting for, and all I'm seeing is that this isn't your bag. Which is fine, but why review it if you hate these sorts of games? This is just kinda how they are. ( Why review a shooter if you dislike shooters, unless you're discussing what you think is wrong with all of them and that is the subject of the day?) Unless it is especially cruel and you can provide examples?

To me it looks like you're mad that it took you so long to review because the grind stalled you.

GundamSentinel:
With this one I'm cautious not to let my love of Ghibli get the better or me. Personally, I don't have much against grinding, but I do get easily offput by combat systems that aren't very welcoming from the getgo and silly difficulty fluctuations. I'll just watch a bit before deciding. :)

If you're a fan of Ghibli, then this should already be the game for you. Hating grinding, I went into this game anyway and I'm really enjoying it so far. It has a crapton of grinding, but it has this uncanny ability to turn this into a fairly satisfying game. The story is thin, but Ghibli have never been about complex stories. You know their movies, you know what they concentrate on and they pull this off pretty well.

And really, the protagonists are little kids and even then they're not much lower in intelligence compared to the average protagonists we get these days. Susan, you know just how borderline retarded most protagonists in most genre's, ESPECIALLY JRPG's (see FFXIII series for example), usually are. For me personally, every other lovely thing about this game made me forgive the usual bad decisions.

The gameplay is slightly unforgiving at times, but you'll get the hang of it in a few hours. It's really not that difficult.
It makes you work for it, but despite it fighting against you repeatedly, you still usually end up liking it.

Furrama:
This is the sort of game that a lot of JRPG fans have been waiting for, and all I'm seeing is that this isn't your bag. Which is fine, but why review it if you hate these sorts of games?

I don't think she hates the genre. The things this game does simply didn't work for her personally, that's all. There are plenty of reviews and old-school JRPG fans that praise this game to death, so if you're not convinced from her review and want to read a different view on the product, there are plenty of other sites and reviews to visit and read.

Susan Arendt:

AldUK:
I haven't played it myself yet, but I have watched quite a few videos. Seems to me that it's more like the older SNES era JRPG and less like the more recent PS2/PS3 offerings, at least in terms of gameplay mechanics. And you know what? I'm totally fine with that, I played those RPGs growing up. Those mechanics, plus Ghibli's amazingly beautiful art? Bring it on.

I think if you have a lot of free time, if you're older than 20 and you appreciate JRPGs and Miyazaki movies, you'll love it. If not... you'll be frustrated. And yes, I get it, that's a lot of ifs.

I'm older than 20, appreciate JRPGs and Miyazaki movies and I can't stand the game. I absolutely understand why folks would enjoy it, but let's not assume that those of us who don't are doing something wrong.

Can we also assume that people are allowed different opinions without being shot down? I wasn't saying you are wrong, I was merely stating my own opinion based on what I have seen of the game.

Xiado:
>Random encounters
>Turn based battles

Final fantasy got rid of turn based battles more than 20 years ago, not that the genre has expunged them but they're an ancient concept. Random encounters are even worse, a way to make up for a lack of hardware power on early consoles that got crystallized as a genre convention because of tradition and nostalgia. Both of them detract from an RPG experience and neither belong in the game.

But I HATE that they took out the turn based, "think and strategize" turn based systems. They're not 'outdated' they're just something else. I haven't liked a Final Fantasy battle system since X, (which was 12 or so years ago, not 20, and 4 Heros was turn based). I wish they would bring it back, because there's only so much Pokemon I can stand, (the last bastion). It is a type of game, and it is one I like a lot. Just because you don't like them doesn't mean it should go away forever for everyone.

SpaceBat:

Furrama:
This is the sort of game that a lot of JRPG fans have been waiting for, and all I'm seeing is that this isn't your bag. Which is fine, but why review it if you hate these sorts of games?

I don't think she hates the genre. The things this game does simply didn't work for her personally, that's all. There are plenty of reviews and old-school JRPG fans that praise this game to death, so if you're not convinced from her reviews and want to read a different view, there are plenty of other reviews to visit and read.

Isn't that like saying, " If you don't like it go somewhere else?" If it has a particularly bad problem with grinding, I want examples cited so that I can understand. I might even agree.

And you cut out the: " This is just kinda how they are. ( Why review a shooter if you dislike shooters, unless you're discussing what you think is wrong with all of them and that is the subject of the day?) Unless it is especially cruel and you can provide examples?"

That was my point. Cutting the paragraph down to that one sentence is stripping the meaning.

Our young hero is Oliver, a brainless gorp of a child who lacks the deductive reasoning skill of your average sandwich bag.

This is probably my favorite line in a review ever...

I was hesitant about picking this up after being unimpressed by the demo and I guess now it's time to cancel my Amazon Order and wait for it to get cheaper.

Furrama:

Isn't that like saying, " If you don't like it go somewhere else?" If it has a particularly bad problem with grinding, I want examples cited so that I can understand. I might even agree.

And you cut out the: " This is just kinda how they are. ( Why review a shooter if you dislike shooters, unless you're discussing what you think is wrong with all of them and that is the subject of the day?) Unless it is especially cruel and you can provide examples?"

That was my point. Cutting the paragraph down to that one sentence is stripping the meaning.

(My bad, I missed that part of your post. I'll comment on it here.)
No no, absolutely not. I'm not saying get out at all. I'm saying that you should always read multiple reviews if you're unsure about the quality of a game, because these things are highly subjective. Her review might very well not align with yours or even the general consensus (just as the DA2 review of this site is the complete opposite of what the general RPG community thinks of it) and if you believe her review to be inaccurate, I recommend you read other reviews for extra info.

You're right that this wasn't the best review she's written so far, as it contains a lot of "insults" without a lot of actually useful content, and you're fully within your right to post valid criticisms, but you should not immediately assume that it's because she hates the genre. She might not dislike the general mechanics that are used within the game, but the overall experience might influence how fluently and enjoyable these sections are perceived.

She herself claimed that she can both appreciate JRPG's and Ghibli movies (by the way Susan, Ghibli =/= Miyazaki. He's a very important part of it, but there are other big directors as well), so don't think she's inherently against the system. The whole package just didn't work for her and that probably influenced her views on multiple aspects of the game, that's all.

"This is just kinda how they are" isn't really a strong point to make. Multiple games can execute the same thing differently and more efficiently than one and other. If she believes that it wasn't well executed this time, than she's within her right to dislike it and it does not mean she hates such games in general. Games are not just their individual aspects; the efficiency of the whole package influences how these aspects are perceived.

But as I said, you should always feel free to post constructive criticism. If you believe that she doesn't give enough info (via examples and such), then you should notify it here. Your post mostly concentrates on how you believe she isn't the right person for such a game and that's not exactly constructive criticism.

I always feel sad when people immediately follow a reviewer and completely change their plans and views about a game though. I'm not saying that Susan is incorrect or by any means a bad reviewer (in fact, she's really good), but people seem to forget that experiences are highly subjective.

I understood this review as a "QQ I want to play FFXIII" because every single complaint in this review can be solved by just playing FFXIII. Yes it also opens up other complaints, but it certainly "solves" the "problems" with Ni No Kuni.

Yes Oliver is pretty slow, but he's a fucking kid, not some genius that has been training for eons to save the world.
Yes you do have to grind, but the overworld music is so delightful and the landscape so beautiful, that grinding ain't no thang. Besides that, its so random to recruit new familiars that you end up killing 10-20 mobs before you finally get one to join you. And when you finally do get to the point of, "ok, combat is easy now" it is because you are finally familiar with enemies and how to clean them up efficiently, more than your party is OP enough.
Yes you can't access the item bag or certain parts of your menu, but why would you ever want to access them before you get to that part of the game? Wanna look in your bag and sort the 0 items you have? Well too bad, you have no items, so there is nothing to sort.

And no, this isn't fan-boying. I just wish you'd actually pick issues that were actual issues, instead of nitpicking things that are not even problems.

I do agree on the AI though, my partner is pretty annoying at times. This can (and was) solved by changing her familiars into ones that filled certain roles that I wanted filled. Sick of her wasting mp on healing all the time? Get her a big bruiser. Sick of her dying all the time? Get her a really tough tanky guy. Sick of her not being effective in a fight? Get her a caster with loads of offensive spells. Sick of running out of mp all the time? Well too bad, she uses mana as it is supposed to be used: an expendable resource.

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