Ni No Kuni Demo Impressions

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When I saw that PSN was going to drop a Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch demo last Sunday, I was beyond excited. I don't own a Playstation 3, but I am currently borrowing one from a friend. For months I've wondering if Ni No Kuni would be the game to finally make me drop the loot and return to the Sony camp.

This generation, quality Japanese Role Playing Games have been harder to come than in the past. If this demo is any indication of the final product, I think Ni No Kuni is sure to be a winner. As I'm sure you've read, the demo gives you two questlines to complete. The first from very early in the game and the second from a point closer to what seemed like the middle of the plot. 

In the first quest, you get a good look at the visuals, a taste of the excellent soundtrack and some experience with the chaotic combat system. You also get to explore a small portion of the world map which is very reminiscent of the Tales series. Ni No Kuni bleeds charm with its bright and colorfilled animation and the spirited voice acting. The developers have clearly put a ton of effort into refining the details of the visuals and sounds to help pull us into the plot. The world map is also gorgeous. With that said, I noticed that there were several flat-looking textures during gameplay and the cutscenes. Also, there wasa very present blur on the world map. For my visualists out there, I really hope these issues are only present in the demo.

While the combat is action-packed and friendly AI seems to be on point, I had to take issue with the interface design choices. Having to move around the battlefield with the left analog stick while also navigating the battle menu with the d-pad is a bit cumbersome. It never cost me any battles, but I think using the trigger buttons may have been a better call for traversing the menus. Other than that, combat was functional and mostly enjoyable allowing me to use Oliver or choose other monsters to fight on my behalf. It appears that there will be a good amount of tactics built in as well with the defend ability. On more than one occaision, defending at the right time allowed me to stagger my opponent and wail on him until he recovered. 

I loved the idea of merit stamps for completing good deeds and the locket mechanic that lets you store emotions to be used to help people throughout the game. I'm very excited to see how that fleshes out in the full game. 

As I said earlier, if this demo is any indication of how the full game will play, I think we've definitely got a future winner to look forward to. it may be time for me to start scoping out a cheap PS3 just in case I have to give this one back to my friend before January 22nd. 

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