Ni no Kuni Wrath of the White Witch Remastered sees the beloved JRPG finally make its debut on the PC.
It’s hard to believe, but Ni no Kuni as a franchise has been around for more than a decade. 2008 saw the release of the first in the series, Ni no Kuni: Dominion of the Dark Djinn, a unique collaborative effort between game developer Level-5, perhaps best known for their charming Professor Layton series, and the legendary animation studio, Studio Ghibli. PS3’s Wrath of the White Witch, which reached western shores in 2013, was a significantly enhanced remaster of Dark Djinn that would capture the hearts of gamers around the world with its cutesy art direction and loveable cast.
Ni no Kuni Wrath of the White Witch tells a pretty straightforward tale about a young child, Oliver, who is teleported to a magical world where lives a great sage who bears a striking resemblance to his deceased mother. It’s based around the done-to-death trope of being the chosen one child destined to save the village/kingdom/world from a generic baddy. No, Ni no Kuni isn’t going to win any awards in writing – the plot is generic, the dialog is stilted, and the voice performances are inconsistent in quality – but for all its shortcomings and lack of innovation, your time in its world is memorable because of its art direction and endless charm.
Yes, this is a remaster of a remaster of a DS game that’s more than 10 years old. But you’d be hard-pressed to find much that’s changed at all. In fact, close inspection reveals any upgrades to the models or texture have been minimal – we’re convinced they haven’t been touched – but, fortunately, this doesn’t draw from the experience. It’s only in select moments during cutscenes and close-ups when the game’s age begins to show, but there’s a touch of timelessness to a Studio Ghibli creation that makes it immune to the effects of time and Ni no Kuni benefits greatly from this. The game remains a sight to behold, with an appealing simplicity in color and design that allows the game’s original textures to look great even six years after we first played it.
The in-game assets might be the same, but some much-appreciated improvements have been made to the overall experience. There’s support for higher resolution screens and the framerate is no longer locked to 30FPS. In fact, if you play on PC, you’ll find it supports any resolution you want – a necessity for some high-range rigs that sport non-standard screen ratios. However, there’s a considerable lack of real graphics options, such as anti-aliasing (only FXAA is supported) and no post-processing at all. Shadows, too, are limited to only two choices: default or high.
Combat is better than ever thanks to the aforementioned performance improvements. The controls are more responsive and the animations play out more smoothly. The latter, in particular, was a notable issue in the PS3 original, especially during combat where rendering several visual effects at time could bring the console to its knees.
Ni no Kuni Wrath of the White Witch Remastered is a game that leans heavily on the quality of its visuals to carry the day. Other than some minor performance upgrades and support for higher resolutions, there isn’t much to set this version apart from its 2013 release. If you’ve already got the original, you can safely skip this one knowing you’re not missing out on much. PC gamers and 4k purists, however, should consider taking the dive into this modern JRPG classic. It’s as magical, memorable, and charming as ever, and, if you’re a fan of the genre, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not playing it.