Hello all today i am bringing you my first impression on Ni No Kuni, recently released on PS3. Now before i go on, those impressions are based off the first two bosses of the game, about 4 hours in so if you are also playing this game but is much further ahead then please refrain from spoiling.
The game center around Oliver, a young boy who just lost his mother after an accident occured. One day, as Oliver cry, his tears bring back to life a doll called Drippy who calls himself the lord of the faeries. He tells Oliver that he's from another world and that both world are connected to each others, like a parallel world. Each persons in Oliver's world have what we call a "soulmate" and Oliver's mom is the soulmate of a sage called Alicia in Drippy's world. But recently a dark djinn named Shadar trapped Alicia in what we call a Soulsnare and Drippy tells Oliver that it may be why his mother passed away and if Alicia is saved the connection between her and Oliver's mom might be restored thus bringing her back to life. From there Oliver sets on an adventure, to become the greatest wizard and defeat Shadar to save his mother.
That's pretty much the story...when summed up of course now next up is the battle system. Once you arrive in Drippy's world you're alone, Oliver isn't much of a fighter but as you progress in the game you'll earn new magic spell the first one being fireball. It deal decent damage early on especially on bug creatures. But do not worry, shortly after you reach the other world and enter the first dungeon you'll earn your very first familiar. Familiars are those creatures that you can summon and they will fight for you and get used to them because there's a LOT to be found as well as rare (Gold) version of them.
Familiars level up just like Ollie and gets stronger as well as learning new attacks. Familiars can learn up to 8 attack so if you want an old familiar to learn a new trick you might need to make them "forget" one of their current technique. For Pokemon players this system is quite familiar. (no pun intended) There's various species of familiar but seeing i only have two of those and they're story given i will focus on those instead.
The first familiar you get fight with a sword and a shield, he's balanced in power and defense but doesn't have much evasion. The second familiar is moreso strenght focused but he cannot use the defend command like the former familiar. But he can buff his own attack and as well as "Psyche Up" psyche up give him the command "Go wild" which is a series of multiple attack good damage wise, mix that with his attack buff and he can be a force to be reckoned with. Also you need to swap familiars at time, they each have a stamina bar that recover when off battle so keep a close eye on it. Also your familiar and Oliver share the same HP and MP bar so you might need to swap to Oliver and heal yourself from time to time.
Each familiars can be equipped with 3 pieces of equipment. The first one you get can equip swords, shields and his accessory are badges. The second familiar can equip fang, mantle, and collar. On top of that you can feed treats to your familiars, raising their familiarity and stats in the process.
Each treat boost a certain stats, like chocolate milk decently boost a familiar attack while something like flan boost magic defense. You can't feed them endlessly too because they can eventually get full so you gotta be careful not to dump every food on a familiar, simply focus on their key stats. See as you feed them they gain,permanent, extra stats as i mentionned and every time they gain a point in a stat (like atk +1) their familiarity raise of +1. In the beginning its familiarity 0/10 meaning they can only get 10 extra stat point BUT after that they gain a level in familiarity now they're at 10/20 familiarity allowing for an extra +10 in stats points. So yeah don't go wasting magic atk food on a strenght/defense centered familiar!
Lastly all 77 familiars have three evolutions (thats hundred of possibilities). Still talking about the first familiar at level 12 he'll evolve into something else and at level 33 he'll have two options, one being a more defense centric evolution or the being a more attack centric evolution. Mine haven't evolved yet and idk if there's something else beside the level required for an evolution, i'm guessing yes for the latter when you have 2 choices.
As you fight orbs are dropped around the area, green orb recover a tiny amount of HP while blue orb recover MP. In some rare case there will be a Gold orb. This one recover all your HP and MP and allow you to do a special attack called miracle move. Oliver cast a huge fireball (which dole about 140 damage on the first boss) and each familiars have their own miracle moves also. Be sure to get those when they drop as it can turn the tide of a fight in mere seconds.
Exploration wise you will not be disappointed, when you're not in a dungeon or a town you're freely roaming on a beautiful and vast overworld. I forgot to say but battle are NOT random, you can see the enemies as you walk around. On the overworld you can find glowy spot when you talk to those you get items. I heard later on that you can travel by boat or even on a dragon! In term of sidequests there's plenty of those, 138 to be exact. Ranging from finding items to help "brokenhearted" people. Basically some people in the game are lazy...or feel like good for nothing you know lacking enthusiasm! Well with a locket Oliver's receive he can find people (shown as green glowy dots on the minimap) with plenty of enthusiasm and with the spell "Take heart" you can "borrow" that bit of enthusiasm from said citizen and then once you go back to a brokenhearted person, you can use the spell "Give heart" to give them that piece of emotion stored in Oliver's locket. Its cute and fit well with theme and overall tone of the game.
Of course, there's also bounty to do, if some of played Final Fantasy XII its basically the same concept than those Marks you'd hunt. You grab the bounty, kill the monster and get a reward as well as merit stamps. Merit stamps are awarded after each sidequest, once you get 10 stamps you get 1 merit award and with that you can buy permanent upgrade using said merits award you have. Those upgrade range from faster walking speed on the overworld to more orbs dropped in battle and so on. Gives an even better reason to complete those sidequest!
Thats all for my impression, very lenghty i know but if you're still on the fence about the game i hope my impressions will help you make your mind about it. If you've got any questions feel free to ask!
Until next time!