Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, a game renowned for its enchanting art, music, and storytelling, holds a special place in the hearts of many RPG enthusiasts. Crafted in collaboration with Studio Ghibli, the renowned animation studio behind iconic films like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, it promises a journey into a captivating fantasy realm. In this review, I, Brighton Nelson, will delve deep into the game's core aspects, assessing its unique battle system, engaging story, sidequests, stunning art, memorable characters, captivating music, enchanting locations, and complex customization system. While many hold it in high regard, we'll also confront some of its quality-of-life issues that hinder the experience. Now, without further ado, RPG Ranked presents... a Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Review: What can I say... it's a gift!
Battle System - 10
This is the most controversial aspect of this game. Some people love this battle system, and some people hate it. As you can tell by the score, I align with the former category. This battle system has a beautiful blend of action-based and turn-based elements, with so many subtle complexities that almost no other game can match; this game's combat never ceased to impress me. Ni No Kuni allows you to manually dodge attacks with clever switching, quickly avoid damage through intelligent use of characters, Defend, or Evade, exploit elemental and planetary weaknesses, cancel enemy attacks with heavy attacks, and much more. The combat also becomes incredibly varied when switching between human characters and familiars, which function much differently in battle. There's also unique AI commands like All-Out Attack and All-Out Defense that add a lot of depth to the game's tactical gameplay—even though it can't measure up to titles like Final Fantasy XII, these two commands fles out the actions of the AI decently. Also, the battlefield becomes even more dynamic since Drippy, the protagonist's sidekick, constantly throws Glims onto the battlefield that restores HP/MP or lets characters utilize their special Miracle Moves! This game also has some of the best boss fights I've ever played in an RPG, if not the best. Every boss was incredibly distinct and fun to fight—I was so glad you could refight more demanding versions of these bosses later in the game!
In researching for this article, I found that a vast majority of Ni No Kuni fans on the forums disliked Ni No Kuni's battle system. This was disheartening, as it's one of my favorite RPG battle systems and easily lands in my top ten! This game cohesively blended action and turn-based combat in a way I adored, making an unforgettable and incredible hybrid battle system that I'd love to see make a comeback in the near future. Ultimately, this battle system is a love-it-or-hate-it system, but in my eyes, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch has one of the best and most unique RPG battle systems of all time.
Story - 10
This game tells a riveting story rooted in the characters' personal conflicts, yet is told in a way that feels grand in scope and scale. With an enormous and beautiful world to explore, some games take the approach of making an epic tale, yet this is not the case here. This game tells a touching story of a young child who goes to extreme lengths to save his beloved mother and stop Shadaar from stealing people's emotions around the world. While that second point may sound silly, it allows the game to tell many emotional vignettes and enables the player to connect with NPCs more than most modern RPGs. The evil deeds of Shadaar don't only have story implications, but they also influence the gameplay in many ways, making for a more cohesive story as a whole. This game has a lovable main story and tons of bonus stories and lore in the incredible in-game handbook: the Wizard's Companion! It's a joy to look through, and it has so much charm in it. This game also has incredible pacing, plot twists, and foreshadowing alongside its fantastic world-building! While this isn't the most complex or morally rich JRPG story you'll experience, it is a sweeping journey of overcoming the past and looking toward the future. It is a simple story, but a perfectly told and presented simple story. Ultimately, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch boasts one of my favorite stories ever told in an RPG.
Sidequests - 10
This game has so many phenomenal sidequests! From tackling enjoyable super boss fights to learning tons of spells through riddles and exploration; from saving brokenhearted people from their misery to reuniting lost friends; from metamorphosing Familiars to be studied to hunting down brutal monsters; from helping an island of Familiars with their troubles to deciphering stories in the ancient language of Nazcaan, this game truly has it all,. On top of that, this game has a unique and rewarding Stamp Card system that gives the player party fantastic, permanent upgrades for their troubles. In the end, this game still has one of the best line-ups of any RPG I've played, and I still fondly remember each of the game's sidequests to this day.
Art & Graphics - 10
Crafted by the artists of Studio Ghibli, every single detail of this gem looks absolutely gorgeous. Every detail of the characters, towns, dungeons, and UI looks perfect—this is one of the best-looking games of all time, in my opinion. Add to that the beautiful cutscenes and stunning battle animations, and you've got a game that's equally as inspired as it is phenomenal. The amount of animations present for each of the Familiars in the Creature Cage and their tricks in battle is astounding, and it sometimes makes me wonder how this game was made, let alone being made over a decade ago.
Characters - 10
The characters in this game may be annoying at times, but each has phenomenal designs, characterizations, and personalities that make this world feel alive and bumbling. My favorite characters were the two main antagonists, Swaine and Esther (I know, I'm sacrilegious for not saying Marcassin and Drippy; you'll just have to deal with it). The antagonists were incredibly captivating and memorable, while Esther was one of the most adorable RPG characters I've ever known (I'm the same age as her, I'm not a pedophile, I can't believe your mind went there), and Swaine, the epitome of bodacious suave and eclectic hot, handsome hubbiness—with a delectable forehead to boot. Questionable adjectives aside, the characters in this game were so memorable and charming, and while Oliver's voice and appearance were very off for an alleged 13-year-old, everything else about these characters was utterly fantastic.
Music - 10
Yet another category with a perfect score, the music in Ni No Kuni is one of my favorite RPG soundtracks. Every track in this game is beautiful and perfectly sets the tone for the game's locations and moments. I love the world map theme, Fragments of Memories, and the boss themes the most of the bunch! The only song I wouldn't consider a masterpiece is the battle theme, which, while not bad by any means, was mediocre. However, in the end, this soundtrack is so engaging and memorable, and I have little else to say that isn't just gushing about how great the music is.
Locations - 10
Yet again, this game has some of the best locations in any RPG I've played. Every town is full of life and more distinct and memorable than the last, and every dungeon has tons of charm and fun design. My favorite locations include Hamelin, Al Mamoon, the Tombstone Trail, the Vault of Tears, and the Golden Grove, but every other one is also fantastic! While this game has a couple of less inspired locations in Yule and The Glittering Grotto, those locations were still executed very well. Ultimately, every location in this game was memorable, beautiful, engaging, and fun.
Customization System - 10
I didn't expect to like the Familiar system very much, judging that I am not a massive fan of the Pokemon games, and I was shocked to realize how much I adored it! They all had different niches, skills, stats, and equipment choices! On top of the Fmailiars being great, each character has very different abilities and Familiar interests, making assigning the right Fmailiars another level of depth to the system. But that is nowhere near the end of it. Each familiar has different planet signs that affect their affinities, elemental and ailmental weaknesses and resistances, and Gem interests! You can also feed your familiars three things: 1) food, which buffs their stats 2) Gems, which teach Fmailiars abilities they typically can't learn and 3) Drops, planet-infused candies that metamorphose the Fmailiars to make them stronger. What makes Metamorphosis stand apart from Pokemon Evolutions is that every Familiar has two third forms, making the player choice more prevalent than ever. Every aspect of this system is intricate, and you can manipulate the most minute details to make a customization system that will always be exciting, even on a third or fourth playthrough. Ultimately, even as someone who doesn't love monster-capturing games, this game's take on it was so complex and engaging that I couldn't help but love it. To this day, this is still one of my favorite customization systems of all time.
Quality of Life - 5
And this is why Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch isn't a perfect RPG for me—what holds it back from being my favorite game of all time. This game is just very frustrating sometimes! With fast travel being gained so late in the game, the boat being incredibly slow, capturing Familiars being so random, losing tons of coins for respawning, the best materials being obscenely challenging to get, leveling up taking much too long, et cetera. But, worst of all, the AI in this game is the most awful AI of any modern RPG I've played. This issue alone detracted a lot from the game for me, and if it weren't for the bad AI specifically, I firmly believe this could be my favorite game of all time. I just wish the recent remaster would've fixed these AI issues, but alas, that is not the case. If you've played this game, you know how bad it can get—when Ehster goes up to the final boss and attacks with her awful harp? I've never seen such laughable AI before. Maybe that's just a testament to the fact that I don't waste my time playing bad games, but that's the one thing that holds this game back from being what I consider a perfect RPG.
Fun Factor: 10
Overall Score: 95%
Letter Rating: S+
There's no doubt about it—this game is a masterpiece and, in my eyes, one of the greatest games ever made. Although it has some highly questionable game design flaws, they do not detract from this game's wondrous adventure. This game isn't perfect, but it is one of the few games I can say came close! I'd recommend this game to anyone, RPG fans or not—you'll find yourself absolutely blown away.
Want to check out this RPG masterpiece and help support our website? Get one of the versions below! I would recommend the Remaster or the Switch version, as they come with bonus familiars and improved graphics!