Why Ni No Kuni is a modern JRPG classic worth revisiting

Unlike a lot of modern JRPGs, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch isn’t afraid to wear its heart on its sleeves. From the outset, it pulls people in with its charming cast of characters and surprisingly emotional narrative. The game bravely emphasizes its child-like nature in the face of adult-oriented titles in the genre. Indeed, cute familiar designs, bright colors, and witty sidekicks are some phenomenon that newcomers can expect to come across when experiencing the title for the first time. The following are a few reasons why Ni No Kuni deserves to be played by every Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC owner out there when it releases for each platform on September 20.

Why Ni No Kuni Is Worth Revisiting | Unique art style

Ni No Kuni

It’s no wonder why Ni No Kuni‘s art style is so striking, as the game was made in collaboration with the world-renowned Studio Ghibli. Though the company only produced the title’s 2D animated sequences, Level-5 did an excellent job translating Ghibli’s signature look. Each color, shadow, and animation was carefully implemented after the developer watched one of the famed studio’s movies, and many of the title’s monsters were designed to match the firm’s aesthetic. The fact that Studio Ghibli animation director Yoshiyuki Momose and game director Ken Motomura communicated frequently during development isn’t surprising, as Ni No Kuni feels like a playable hand-drawn film. The game’s art style will undoubtedly pop on Switch’s LCD screen, and the fact that the it lasts over 40 hours on average means it’s the perfect piece of software to take on the go.

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Why Ni No Kuni Is Worth Revisiting | Captivating tunes

Ni No Kuni

Ni No Kuni sounds just as good as it looks. Composed primarily by Joe Hisaishi, the man responsible for the musical scores of such prominent Studio Ghibli films as Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and My Neighbor Totoro, every piece feels deliberate and evokes a specific type of emotion from the player. The game’s soundtrack excels at creating a sense of fun and adventure, captivating fans with an orchestral melody when they’re viewing a breathtaking vista or enticing fans to beat up bad guys during combat. Video games rarely feature compositions that are quite as profound. It’s not hyperbole to state that Ni No Kuni offers some of the best tunes in the genre.

Why Ni No Kuni Is Worth Revisiting | Interesting combat system

Ni No Kuni

Ni No Kuni‘s combat system is like an amalgamation of the Pokemon and Tales series, as Oliver and his party members send familiars out on a free-roaming battlefield in order to fight on their behalf. In true JRPG fashion, each one of these critters can be equipped with upgradable items, level up, and evolve alongside their owners to gain more health and new abilities. Unlike many games in the genre, however, Ni No Kuni‘s skirmishes take place in real-time and challenge players with managing multiple troops in order to exploit enemy weak points.

That’s not to say that the title is all about button mashing, as players can switch to their human allies mid-battle in order to cast useful spells. The versatility of the game’s combat system is its greatest strength, and the overwhelming amount of familiars helps keep the experience fresh. While it may take some time to get used to, Ni No Kuni‘s core gameplay can be rewarding if players invest the appropriate amount of time into it.

Why Ni No Kuni Is Worth Revisiting | An emotional story and a profound theme

Ni No Kuni

Without giving too much away, Ni No Kuni‘s story appeals to both children and adults in that it explores the process that one must go through when losing a loved one. Oliver’s journey to the “other world” is just as much of an escape for him as it is for us as players, thus making the overall experience feel incredibly relatable. The fact that the title starts in a small American town highlights the isolation one must feel when going through a hard time in their lives, and the outlets that we all rely on to help us ease our pain.

Oliver’s emotional journey isn’t Ni No Kuni‘s only worthwhile storyline, however, as many characters that the protagonist encounters lack essential emotions like courage and love and are in desperate need of someone to help them. While these NPCs aren’t explored nearly as much as Oliver, their struggles emphasize how every stranger out there is dealing with some kind of personal conflict, and how it only takes one person to make a meaningful difference in their lives. This theme of giving to others for nothing or little is something that video games hardly ever explore. It’s refreshing and makes players feel genuinely good about their actions.

Seeing as how there are few other JRPGs releasing this year, now is the perfect time to relive Oliver’s adventure or take a trip to Ni No Kuni‘s world for the first time. Fans who fall in love with the title should know that a sequel called Revenant Kingdom is already available on PlayStation 4 and PC and that another entry is in development. Here’s hoping that Level-5 is able to recapture the franchise’s charm in the future, and that the first title is successful enough on Switch to warrant ports of every other game in the series.