Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a game in development by Level-5 Studios in collaboration with Studio Ghibli. Level-5 is responsible for many classics in the RPG genre, ranging from titles like Dark Cloud 1&2 all the way to Rogue Galaxy and White Knight Chronicles. Studio Ghibli makes some of the highest quality animated films in the world and one of their more recent works, Spirited Away, even earned an Oscar for best animated film. Ni No Kuni aims to bring those two studios together in the holy matrimony of gaming with an epic RPG to end this console generation.
The basic premise of the game is that your mother is killed early on so you set out on a quest to find a way to bring her back and repair her heart, essentially. The parts in the demo are very light on the story and instead let you see various gameplay mechanics. The first portion of the demo I have recorded with commentary down below and takes place in the Deep Dark Woods.
The game first has a couple screens of exposition, giving you a bit of framing for what you’re doing and then you are thrust into the bright and beautiful world. You can immediately tell how wonderful the graphics are as it really does look just like one Ghibli’s animated films comes to life on your television screen. The water flows beautifully and the colors are all extremely vivid.
After moving down the path a way, I immediately come across a boss fight with the guardian of the forest. Combat allows you to either control a creature (they remind me a lot of Pokemon) or Oliver himself. Both you and your creatures share the same pool of HP and MP so you have to manage those resources carefully. Instead of taking turns, per se, everything is happening in real-time in combat. You and enemies alike are free to move around the environment and position for attacks. This is important to note because you really have to pay attention to when your enemy is using a large attack (indicating it would be a good idea to queue up your block) as well as what actions your character is taking and when. Saving up stronger attacks (they have cooldowns) for when an enemy is tired/out of stamina is often a better strategy than using up all of your MP at the beginning of a fight.
After this battle some cutscenes and such happen, followed by heading out into the open world of the game. Ni No Kuni employs a traditional overworld map for traveling between locations and the art style shines through once again. Instead of entirely random encounters in the game, you can see your enemies on the map. This allows you to (usually) avoid battles if you would like, as well as gain combat advantage by sneaking up on them (or them on you.)
Keep reading on the next page to see what happens next and find out about the second half of the demo!