Ni No Kuni: Best Girl

Ni No Kuni is a gaming masterpiece brought to us by the folks at Level 5 games and Studio Ghibli. Of course with Studio Ghibli at the helm, the game has an incredibly charming and pleasing aesthetic. Coupled with that is an amazingly beautiful soundtrack composed by Joe Hisaishi. Hisaishi is the musical mind behind many Studio Ghibli movies such as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. Each of these elements created an astounding atmosphere that had me excited to turn on my TV when I went to play the game.

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Ni No Kuni also comes packed with a story that will have you emotionally invested from the very beginning. I won’t spoil anything in case you haven’t played the game, but it has an incredibly emotional and depressing openings that I’ve ever seen in a video game. It’s one of the few that has actually brought me close to tears. Despite the heart-wrenching tone the game creates, it offers some comic relief by introducing a guiding light: the main protagonist Oliver and his companion, Mr. Drippy. Drippy whips Oliver off on an adventure through the magical otherworld of Ni No Kuni. From there the game introduces a plethora of characters that are both likeable and intentionally unpleasant.The story never seemed to drag, and consistently introduced new concepts that kept it feeling fresh.

While the visual, audio and story elements are all important, this is of course a video game, and in order for it to be a completely good experience, it still requires fun and engaging gameplay. Luckily, Ni No Kuni manages to deliver in that category as well. The core of the combat revolves around getting up close and personal with familiars, casting magic, healing, or just hitting with long-range spells.Since familiars are a major part of the combat, you can infer that there is a lot to them, and you’d be right. Familiars are creatures that link up with the heart of the user and act as an extension of the character in combat. As such, each familiar is linked with the individual’s health and mana bars, making it so that you can’t really cheese out the game and retreat a certain familiar into another in order to gain more health and mana. Familiars will level up, and eventually evolve. You can also obtain more in the wild if you want to change up your play style a bit. That sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it? Yep! It’s a lot like pokemon and as a lover of the Pokemon franchise, I can easily say that Ni No Kuni manages to reflect the same magic. While you don’t necessarily have to catch every single familiar, you’ll want to. You want to see what they evolve into, how strong they are, what skills they get, and find out as much as you can about them. Theres also a few gambling mini-games (including one original game) that are a ton of fun and insanely addicting.

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Ni No Kuni came out in very early 2013. This was during my senior year of high school and at the time a sense of cynicism started to grow inside of me towards the gaming industry. I started noticing that a lot of the games flooding the market seemed soulless, and were being engineered not to make for an incredible experience for the player, but solely as a way to make a profit. Almost every new game felt bland and unoriginal to me. My faith in the industry was fleeting, and it really bummed me out. However, half a year after Ni No Kuni came out, I stumbled upon a video called “Top 10 Songs in Video Games” by a youtuber who I had recently found out about. Holding the number one slot in this video was the theme of Ni No Kuni. In that small amount of time, the uploader of the video, Nate, went on a bit of a rant about how if you need to play the game if you already haven’t. Something about that rant resonated with me; I don’t know if it was his passion for the game, the bits of gameplay shown, the music in the background, or a combination of all three. All I know is that I found myself thinking, “Maybe I should give this game a try.” Sometime shortly after, I went out and bought the game. From the moment the game’s main menu opened up with that incredible theme playing, I felt something I had almost forgotten about. I felt a childlike wonder and joy. I found myself genuinely excited to play the game and explore the world it had to offer. Ni No Kuni reinstilled a sense of optimism towards games in me. It made me realize that not every game coming up was soulless. There were more grand adventures waiting out there and I just had to go find them.

Honestly, this game just offers so much to the player. An amazing style, strong gameplay and a story that will tug on your heartstrings make Ni No Kuni a game that has easily cemented itself as one of my favorites. If you haven’t already played it . Do yourself a favor and play the game. You won’t regret it.

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