Ni no Kuni is about Oliver; a boy who saves a magical world to revive his mother, after she dies saving him from drowning in a car accident. He is guided by his stuffed childhood toy Drippy (Lord High Lord of the Faeries) and other companions he meets throughout his adventure to become a Grand Sage. Oliver adventure sees him helping the broken hearted, serenade and train familiars and discover the dark mysteries of the alternate world.
Ni no Kuni is a beautiful game; it was one of the first thoughts I had when starting it up for the first time and carried through to the end. The art is beautiful and gives it a character while the story is emotional and sometimes thought provoking.
There is a lot of content as you would expect with an RPG. Side missions which tie in well with the story and give lasting and positive rewards. There are a lot of creatures to "serenade" onto your team; which can sometimes be hard to engage with due to not coming from a wider universe (TV, Movies, etc). I did find by the end I quite liked my Puss in Boats(who wouldn't love a captain cat pirate).
At its best, battles are engaging and thrilling; making you quickly react to a given situation with the correct attacks and defensive action. However, the difference between just a few levels makes a fight go from impossible (doing 1 damage) - to fun - to stale with the enemy being a walk over. Which meant at the start I found some battles frustratingly hard, while leading to a gradually boring walkover by the end.
The battles are in real time with up to 2 A.I characters helping you. Each character can use themselves or up to one of three summoned familiars. The issues can often be that the A.I is lacking on the best action to take. The battles also require a faster pace of play than the game allows. I think the ability to pause combat and directly give instructions to the companions to follow would have improved the combat greatly.
Above the art style being beautifully drawn, Ni no Kuni doesn't often much on the technical side. The game features the split of world exploring and battle scenes, which was fine for the early 2000s but feels a bit dated with modern technology and games.
I really enjoyed Ni no Kuni, the combat could often be engaging and tactical and the story was compelling and interesting. It had a lot of content with some post game content I may be tempted to do at some point. It wasn't perfect and didn't push the genre of RPGs or JPRGs but makes a might fine contribution to it.