Ni No Kuni is an epic, inspired quest that no fan of anime and RPG's should miss.
So does it deliver? Absolutely, in multiple ways. The game isn't just inspired by Ghibli, it feels like one of their productions, from their traditional style of animation to the magical world you're whisked away to. It's in the Ghibli aspects where you find much of the games magic. Humorous and wonderful creatures fill the land, sharing it with humans who live side by side. Even Oliver, the main character's, story take many of it's cues from tradition Ghibli productions. In the game, early on, Oliver witnesses the tragic passing of his mother. However, a doll his mother once gave him magically comes to life and reveals that, not only does he come from another world, but that, in said world, there may be a way to revive Oliver's mother. There are multiple motivations to your quest in Oliver's shoes and it is through the combination of these elements that you get to witness what few games attempt anymore: a magical fairy tale that calls to the best of Studio Ghibli's films, fairy tales that are rarely explored in gaming these days.
But the game isn't just about magical places and Ghibli creatures. It backs up it's journey with exciting gameplay that keeps you on your toes. The game uses a unique magic and summon system in which you have both magic spells and familiars to call upon in battle. At the beginning of battle, you are given the opportunity to choose to play as either Oliver, and utilize an attack with your wand or spells, or call on a familiar to fight in your stead who use powerful attacks and tricks on enemies. At any time in battle, you can select between each of these characters, and that is where the challenge comes in. Combat is all about balancing your team and making quick decisions to keep your team alive and attacking. As this is an action rpg, you are free to run around the arena you fight in to avoid enemy attacks. The gameplay is fairly unique to JRPGs and quite uncommon to anything you will find on today's market.
The production values, as you might imagine, are fantastic. The animation is as high of quality as anything Ghibli has done, and as an added treat, all the game's music is created by Joe Hisaishi, creator of most music from the Ghibli film library, and performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. And the quality shows, as the music is not only suitable for the setting, but extremely pleasant. It enhances the feeling that you're in a Ghibli movie tenfold.
I can't praise this game enough and it delivers on everything you'd expect, from story and character to the gameplay. Level 5 and Studio Ghibli have delivered a once in a generation gaming experience that recalls the best of anime and JRPGs. If you're a fan of either of those, then you owe it to yourself to get this game asap!