Review: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Optional
  • Move None
Title: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (19.26 GB)
Release Date: September 20, 2019
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO
Developer: Level-5
Original MSRP: $49.99 (US)
ESRB Rating: E10+
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Editor’s note:
Our review for the original release on PlayStation 3 can be located here:

Gameplay:
Ni No Kuni comes to PlayStation 4, complete with 4K visuals. If you missed this title on the PlayStation 3, or simply played the sequel and want to know where this series started, this is probably the best way to experience it. And that’s saying a lot because the game still looks phenomenal on the PS3.

Developed by Level-5, Ni No Kuni tells the tale of a young boy, named Oliver, that loses his mother due to an unfortunate accident, and is later whisked away into a fantasy world, full of anthropomorphic beings and exotic locales. Throughout his adventure, Oliver meets colorful characters that travel with him and assist in battle. In addition to his two friends, Oliver will collect monsters across the environment that will also join you in battle.

There is indeed a certain Pokemon vibe to the monster collecting, and while the game does have a turn-based internal engine going, you are able to run around the environment, and take control of different characters, including your monsters, and assign attacks and abilities. While it initially appears that you might have a lot to keep up with, the AI for your companions is pretty smart, and rarely did I have to babysit anyone on the field. You have the option (well it’s more of a requirement if you plan on surviving) to upkeep your creatures, by feeding them and developing your relationships with them. They level up and you can advance their physical form and abilities over time.

This is an epic tale and, as such, a long game. I clocked a little over forty hours on the original, and since this is the exact same game, I imagine the same length would apply to the PlayStation 4 version. If you have played Ni No Kuni before and simply want to experience this 4K remaster, you may be disappointed in the lack of cross-save support. I had started a second playthrough months ago on the PS3, and I was hoping I could continue the game on the PS4. Without the cross-save support, I had to start all over for this review.

If you are, however, new to this series, expect a solid RPG with some of the best a Japanese developer has to offer.

Visuals:
Part of Ni No Kuni’s visual charm comes from the fact that it looks, and moves, like an interactive Studio Ghibli movie. The art style is so vibrant and absolutely gorgeous, that you could be forgiven for just sitting back and looking at the bustling city before actually interacting with it.


Kuni uses a cel-shaded style for its characters and mixes them with polygonal, hand-painted backdrops that really evoke that nostalgia for some of the best-looking animated movies in Ghibli’s resume.

On the PlayStation 4 Pro, the visuals are enhanced to ultra-smooth 4K. It was a difficult comparison because I remember the original game looking phenomenal on PlayStation 3. I had to play the original a few minutes just to make an honest comparison.

Truth is, Ni No Kuni still looks amazing on the old PS3, but the 4K benefits on the PS4 are noticeable, making this the definitive way to experience this great game.

Audio:
It’s a testament to the sound design of this game to say that, if I walked into a room and simply listened to Ni No Kuni (with the visuals turned off), I could tell immediately that there was a Studio Ghibli influence and almost fabricate the visuals in my mind.

That’s how authentically the game syphons the sound of a Ghibli experience.

The musical score is one of my favorites from the generation, and I still listen to the score occasionally. Even my kid asks me to play the main theme in the car from time to time.

The voice work is exemplary, and again, has that same pacing and tone as a movie produced by the Ghibli studio.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
There is a lot of game here. Ni No Kuni was an excellent game in its time, and it still holds up, even without the PS4 update. Playing it on PS4 only enhances the beauty that was present almost ten years ago. The relationship between the first and second game isn’t as concrete as with other series, so you can play them in any order you wish. But it’s an RPG that should not be missed.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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