Average User Score: 8.6Feb 6, 2013Anyone who would give this a 10 is ignoring some serious flaws. The game has great audio and visuals, the story is okay, and it's a lot of fun, but some of the gameplay elements are seriously lacking in fun, and some of the stages of the game suffer from lack of consideration. Side quests in the game are more of an optional chore than anything else and never add anything meaningful to the game. The primary story quests are mostly fine, though some don't make a whole lot of sense; however, many are mundane tasks that would be more enjoyable to watch then to actually do yourself.
Imagine a game where you raid a castle full of enemies, but every room is separated by a locked door, and to open the door you have to go back to one of the rooms you previously cleared to grab the key. You don't have to search for it, you're told exactly where it is, but you have to manually walk over there, pick it up, and bring it back. Now imagine that every time to go between rooms you've already cleared, you have to open the door separating them, slowly walk through it, and then close it behind you even though you know you'll be coming back this way in a few minutes. This is how the story quests in Ni No Kuni feel. I understand for the sake of the plot the main character has to do some less than interesting things, but why did the game designers think it was a good idea to make the players experience these things, and even hold the player's hand while they do them. The game also feels like you never quite completed the tutorial part of the game. Part of it is that they continue to slowly introduce you to new features as the game progresses, but sometimes they slowly walk you through a process you've already done 20 times and it makes absolutely no sense.
The biggest flaw with the game is the combat system. It's very similar to Final Fantasy 12's combat system where you control 1 of 3 party members at a time and can switch control to perform important tasks. The big difference is that FFXII had a deep system of customizable AI called gambits that let the players control how the other members acted without your assistance, and even that system left mature players wanting more control. The Ni No Kuni system gives you a handful and a half of vague commands such as "keep us healthy" and "go all out" which all seem to disappoint in some way other than "do whatever you want" and "do nothing" which work as you'd expect, unless you were expecting the AI to be smart that is. Since most of the bosses in the game revolve entirely around protecting yourself from charged up attacks, a big part of combat is hitting the defend or evade button to protect yourself at the right time. Now when you only have 1 character this is fine: all you do is cancel your attack, scroll through the clumsy console AI to defend or evade, and press X(cross) at the right time. It's a shame the developers didn't choose to use any of the many unused buttons to defend, but this could be due to some familiars not having either defend or evade or the ability to make all your characters defend with a different button. The strange thing is, they don't give you the ability to make all your characters defend until after you have all 3, so there's this awkward time where you have 2 characters and a boss is about to go nuts on you, but all you can do is protect one of you people. It's actually easier to kill some of the bosses by letting your partner die and then proceeding to outplay the boss according to his mechanics with the character you control.
Despite the incredibly flawed combat system, the game is really fun. Even on normal difficulty and with the AI problems, none of the boss fights are more unacceptably challenging. Even if you do find something overly difficult, you can just grind a few levels or buy some more items to make up the difference. It would be nice if the game had more readily available information on the different choices of familiars and the tricks available to their various forms as well as stat values, but since you can beat the game with any randomly thrown together crew, it's hardly an issue. The game is certainly more appropriate for a younger, more casual demographic of gamer than myself, but there's plenty there for more mature gamers and powergamers to enjoy as well.
+Good (Japanese) voiceovers. Have not listened to English.
+Simple and trite but well executed story
+Plenty of content
+Noob friendly and kid friendly
+Visually impressive, engaging, and fun boss battles
-Awful AI foundation for core combat system
-Too childish for some, and too easy outside of the artificial difficulty that comes from the poor AI
-Lack of depth to combat and training system.… Expand