Studio Ghibli and Level 5 have made an excellent game. One that will for sure be remembered as one of the best RPG's.
While Final Fantasy XIII and XIII 2 brought it's own excitement and thrill, Final Fantasy is clearly trying to take Japanese RPG's to the next level. Its not a bad thing either they need to be. Ni No Kuni doesn't press the boundaries to make a game stand out and create something entirely different. Instead Level 5 takes a look at what made RPG's popular in the first place and made a very unique game. This is Level 5's best game since Rogue Galaxy.
Ni No Kuni's world is brought to life by the beautiful visuals of Studio Ghibli (Howl's Moving Castle, Kiki's Delivery Service, Secret world of Arriety). It's certainly fitting for the game and Studio Ghibli should contribute more to games. The vast attention to detail and exploration it makes every area you visit that much more fascinating to explore. You'll find yourself stopping to enjoy the amazing background scenery as well, that which can only be explored by your eyes.
Storywise, the game offers quite a bit. You play as Oliver a young boy who lives in Moterville with his mother. One morning while running errands for his mother he is informed that his friend Phillip has finished this car he has been working on forever. They decide to test drive it that night. Meanwhile the White Witch has plans to kill him and plots it out. His mother is awoken by a scream. Oliver's car looses its tire and he is plunged into the river. His mother swims out to save him. Once he comes too, she collapses and is put in the hospitalized where she dies. Oliver is left alone and a single tear turns his doll into a fairy, named Mr. Drippy. He tells Oliver that he is the pure hearted one destined to save his world, but Oliver has no desire to do so until Mr. Drippy says that the key to bringing his mother back lies in his world. Oliver and Mr. Drippy venture off into this alternate world to start there adventure. It is Ni No Kuni's characters that compel the story and make you want to continue through the story.
Its gameplay stands out in many ways, making it quite different than most RPG's out there. The battle system isn't different but each ally is controlled by an AI and you control your leader. Each party member is allowed three familiars whom they can switch between to use. You only start out with a couple but later you are able to tame Familiars and use them at your disposal. Your also able to use your characters ablities as well just like Oliver has the ability to use Magic to heal or fight it comes in handy in tough boss fights. The game requires strategy and its battle system takes some time to get used too. It's not bad but it isn't Ni No Kuni's strong point. You can also use spells off the field Some might require you to rejuvenate or give life to something dieing. One of the most unique things about the game is giving and taking heart. Throughout the game you'll run into people who have had certain traits drained from them. The first time you see this is with two guards one who has no enthusiasm and one who has got some to spare. By taking enthusiasm from one guard you give it to the other this brings the guard back reality and he opens the gate into Ding Dong Dell. Ni No Kuni has a lot to offer with quests, like find my diary, or kill that monster. Fetch quests are fun when you have a world that you want to explore more of and that is where Ni No Kuni really shines. Is its vast world.
Another strong point of Ni No Kuni is its wonderful soundtrack Joe Hasashi, who has composed many Studio Ghibli movies, does the soundtrack and it works great for the game. I haven't heard a soundtrack this amazing since Final Fantasy X. I often find myself letting the music set the mood for there area or trigger certain emotion for a game. It's among my favorite game soundtracks, Xenogears, Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy X just to name a few. Ni No Kuni is a game that any gamer wanting to play and RPG should try out. Even more it's a game that RPG players should try. It is the game that RPG fans have been crying out for 8 years. Ni No Kuni proves that no matter how popular online multiplayer is or shooters, that good single player games still exist. Ni No Kuni shines as a gem of this generation and reminds us why we enjoy playing video games in the first place. 9.5/10