Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered was one of my most anticipated games of the year. The charming art style, beautiful orchestral score, and wonderful characters make for an incredible experience that every RPG fan should play. Sure, it initially released 6 years ago, but to this day I fully believe that Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is one of the best releases of last generation, and finally PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch players finally get to see what the fuss is about.
To be fair, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch does start off a bit slow. It’s a JRPG through and through, and takes a handful (or more) of hours to really sink your teeth into. It does seem easier than I remembered it being though. I don’t think it actually is, and instead seems to be easier after playing it through previously on PlayStation 3. I don’t think that Ni No Kuni is a really tough game by any means, but those unfamiliar with the mechanics might get stuck early as they learn the gameplay systems.
Players take control of a young boy, Oliver, just before his mother passes away. After getting his tears on his favorite stuffed toy, the toy transforms into a small creature named Drippy that transports him to a magical world that is under threat from a great evil: the wizard Shadar. Drippy seems to think that Oliver’s mother might still be “alive” in another form in this world, so Oliver sets out to try to save her as well.
Something I still wish we’d see more of are hand-drawn anime style cutscenes to supplement the CGI ones. Fire Emblem: Three Houses did something similar, but with CGI cutscenes almost styled like hand-drawn ones. Level-5 actually partnered with Studio Ghibli for the art direction on this, and Ni No Kuni greatly benefited from this, as the whole game is beautiful.
As this is a remaster, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered has received some visual improvements from its original release. Upon booting up my PlayStation 4 version, I was greeted with the option of running the game at 1440p at 60 frames per second, or native 4K at 30 frames per second.
The base PS4 runs Ni No Kuni at 1080p, but I’m unclear what fps that is at. Finally, the Nintendo Switch version of the game runs at 720p, 30 frames per second both docked and portable. I’m not sure what kind of visual options the PC version will get, but considering QLOC is handling the PC version, the same people that brought God Eater to PC, I’m assuming the options will be riddled with tweakables.
I opted for the 1440p choice. It’s what I run my PC games at, and I find that most games look almost as good as 4K, and the increased frame rates easily make up for it. I wasn’t disappointed. The world is extremely bright and crisp, and colors are insanely vivid. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was already a gorgeous game when it launched for PS3, but playing through it again it looks like it was built for the current generation of consoles. My only complaint with the visual style is that Oliver looks a little plain. He looked fine a handful of years ago on the lower-tier hardware, but now he’s lacking distinctive features that make him look a little off.
Gameplay remains intact from the original release. Players go into battle with Oliver and his familiars (think Pokemon, but slightly different). Familiars go into battle on their own, but can be swapped out with Oliver when they need to recharge. Familiars have different abilities that can be used in battle that utilize a finite amount of MP. Anyone who has played Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom won’t find that action oriented playstyle here, as once you select your action, things play out for a few seconds before you select another one, making for more strategic encounters.
For whatever reason, the overworld between the two Ni No Kuni titles was also more similar than I remembered them being. Players move from one key area to the next through an undersized overworld reminiscent of the older Final Fantasy titles. It’s a nice throwback to RPG’s of yesteryear that ground Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch as an old school JRPG with a fresh coat of paint.
I’m honestly unsure if Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch even needed a remaster as the original title still holds up (I even popped in my PS3 copy to check). Sure, the increased resolution is great, but the real draw will be for players who never experienced it on PlayStation 3. This is a 40+ hour title, and only the most die-hard JRPG fans will probably want to go through the whole title again. Those who haven’t played it are in for a treat though, so anyone who thinks that most RPG’s are too action oriented, and don’t like diving into the latest niche JRPG from Nippon Ichi or Marvelous should drop what they’re doing right now and pick this up.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered launches September 20th for PlayStation 4, PC, and Nintendo Switch. This review is based on a PS4 copy of the game provided by the publisher. Preorders are available here.