This is a copy and paste from a thread post I made in the PUSH Union's Now Playing thread. I finished Ni No Kuni tonight, so I thought I'd take this chance to talk about it. Unfortunately it wasn't all I thought it was cracked up to be. I'd place it in the category of games where they have a beautiful direction, but are flawed in some way or another.
"Well it took 40 hours, but I finally finished Ni No Kuni tonight. Impressions: Disappointing. I was touting it as my most anticipated game of 2013, and I thought it would be contender for GotY. It got the presentation right. It has some of the most beautiful scenes in a game this generation; however, there were a lot of small annoyances from many different apects of the game that brought down my experience.
Combat system -- The combat system I found rather frustrating, especially towards the beginning. Towards the end it still wasn't great, but I had moved onto defensive tanks where I didn't really need to worry about how bad the battle mechanics were and could just go around hitting shit. The main problem I have with the battle mechanic is the lack of a proper defense button, especially early on when you don't have the all-out defense command for your teammates. Battles can be extremely frustrating when you're told you have the option to defend against enemy special command attacks, but in practice you rarely ever get the chance to. This is due to the fast casting times of these types of spells. If you're in another command wheel window, executing an attack, or controlling a character that doesn't have defend/evade command then you're practically screwed and will take massive damage. The amount of time it takes to cancel what you're doing to get to the defend command is almost always slower than the amount of time it takes for the enemy to cast their super attack. Of course if you're over leveled this doesn't really become an issue, but it's an annoying feature that they tell you is there, but doesn't work too well.
I would also say although the familiar system is neat and it's cool being able to befriend so many different creatures alot of them are useless, and by the time the game was over I was using only 1 familiar in combat (Dinoceros).
Pacing -- The amount of time it takes to unlock all the abilities that should be there from early on is mildly to very annoying. You can't catch familiars until 8 hours in. You're entire party doesn't have a defend command until 15 hours. You can't fast travel until 20 hours in. Then you'll get a boat, fast travel spell, and a dragon in rapid succession. There are also a lot of random spikes in the difficulty.
Verbose Dialog bubbles/Handholding - It's sad to see that voice acting was almost nonexistant. The majority of the game is just reading through text. Which there is nothing inherently wrong with this, but when the text is "Olver this man seems to be missing a piece of heart." "Jeepers you think?" "Yes, he's missing a piece of heart. Go find some heart, so we can restore this guys heart because he's missing a piece of his heart, and you can restore his heart. Did I tell you that you can restore this man's heart? Oh also let me tell you where to find this guy's heart. This guy's heart is here." It's great if you want to give me directions or a clue to tell me where to go. But the amount of verbosity and handholding in this game can become overbaring. It's annoying when something that should take 1 or 2 sentences takes up parapgraphs. Luckily you're able to turn off some of the handholding features, like the giant star that marks your map telling you where to go.
Side Quest Strucutre - Half of the side quests were -- Talk to NPC ---> Go to another NPC to get heart ---> Go back to orginal NPC to give heart. That said, I did like the bounty hunts just to see the cool stronger unique monsters. And there were a couple NPC sidequests that didn't follow the Take/Give Heart Formula.
I did like the game, and once you were given Tengri, around the 25-ish hour mark, the game started to pick up, but once again I don't think it got better because the core combat/gameplay got better. I think it got better because around that time I got better perks due to all the stamp cards I collected (+100 HP and MP) and due to getting a Dinoceros familar which destroyed everything in its wake, effectively making the bad combat more bareable."
Also I'm going to start the Song of the Blog feature back up again. I think this song is appropriate for this blog since the major theme of NNK was brokenheartedness.
Song of the Blog:
"Tin Man" by Future Islands