Ni no Kuni, released on PS3, 3DS and Switch, is the result of a cooperation between Level 5, a studio well known to players from the latest installments of the Dragon Quest series, and Ghibli - the most famous Japanese animation studio, the creators of such movies as My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Porco Rosso or the Oscar-winning Spirited Away.
The game is a classic jRPG title which, thanks to its rich visuals, moving screenplay and the charm and style characteristic of Ghibli's films, resembles a wonderful interactive animation.
The main character is a 13-year-old boy named Olivier, who, together with his loving mother Allie, leads a peaceful life in the city of Hotroit. One day, his best friend asks him to test a new invention - a self-constructed racing car. Unfortunately, during the first ride, the car falls into the river. Olivier was rescued by Allie. A few days later, the boy's mother dies from an inexplicable disease. Desperate Olivier tries to cry in the plush toy he got from his mother. The toy suddenly comes alive and invites him on a journey to a magical world. In this mysterious world, people from our reality have a double, which is inseparably connected with them. As it turns out, Allie on the other side is a mighty sorceress fighting the evil and mighty magician Jabo. Suspecting that her struggle may be related to her mother's death, the boy decides to set off to help overcome the evil and perhaps in this way gets his mother back.
The game can be divided into two basic elements: fighting and exploration. During the game, we visit cities presented in full 3D. We can find inns or various shops, where we get supplies for the next journey, as well as a number of independent characters who have tasks for us, which we will perform in many different locations. They are usually divided into two parts, between which there is a place where we can rest and regenerate (health and magic points). Besides logic puzzles and hidden treasures, the land is full of creatures that we will have to fight against. If we do not wish to do so at a given moment, we can try to escape them.
The combat system is a combination of turns and real-time fights. Each character on the battlefield moves in real time, but the actions can be taken every few seconds - the time to the next one is counted down by the appropriate indicator. In our own turn, we give orders to our party, such as attacking, defending yourself, using an item or special skills. Olivier can use magic as well as perform standard attacks, which are not very effective. Therefore, most of the weight during the fight falls on the familiars that help us, which are under the control of each member of the team. Besides Oliver, our party consists of Swaine, who steal items from opponents, and Esther, whose harp can calm down the enemies.
Both the visual and musical setting of Ni no Kuni are at the highest level. Although the graphics engine is not as extensive as in many other console blockbuster productions, the cel-shading technology and the visual design of characters and environments done in the art style of the Ghibli studio make Ni no Kuni a beautifully looking game. The PS3 and 3DS versions of the game have the same storyline, but they present events from a different perspective and have different endings.