The original Ni no Kuni came out on the the PS3 ages ago. I remembered there was a big fuss about it since it was done by Studio Ghibli and LEVEL-5, both renowned studios in their own right.

Now, a few years later (and after the sequel) the original’s been released on the PS4, with all of the DLC and an upgrade to the frame rate.

Does it warrant another purchase?

Find out in the review!

What is Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered?

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered (Ni no Kuni) is a JRPG from LEVEL-5, the company behind awesome PS2 and PS3-era JRPGs like Dark Cloud, Rogue Galaxy and White Knight Chronicles. It’s a collaboration with Studio Ghibli (My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, Prince Mononoke), which gives the game its unique look.

If you’re coming in to Ni no Kuni hoping for a grand story, you’d best temper your expectations. It’s typical fantasy fare with Oliver wanting to save his mum by going to another world and trying to save it from an evil force.

To be honest, it’s all rather kiddie and shallow (then again, the game IS somewhat aimed at the younger audience) but it’s still enjoyable, if you don’t go and expect something akin to a nuanced and subtle plot.

The combat system in Ni no Kuni is a mix of both real time and menu driven, which makes for a unique (if rather stilted) experience.

You can choose to use a familiar to fight for you in battles, swapping in Oliver when they’re tired. Movement is free, though you can only attack by choosing from a menu.

It’s nowhere near as fun as the streamlined battle system in the sequel, and it actually feels a bit clunky and archaic in light of that.That doesn’t mean it’s bad though; it’s functional but you’ll definitely notice it hasn’t aged well.

The loading time certainly feels faster compared to the PS3 version. Entering and leaving battles seem quicker and even loads into towns and other areas appear quicker.

It could be the remaster (though I’ve not heard it mentioned as a perk) but it could also be because I’m using a hybrid HDD on my PS4 Pro, which speeds up loads.

Ni no Kuni Remastered doesn’t come with new content; everything that’s in the game already came out with on the PS3 version. It does pack in all the DLC that’s a separate purchase on the PS3 though, so there’s that.

The only enhancements to the game comes in the form of the upgraded resolution and frame rate.

For the base PS4; you get to play the game at 1080p at 60 FPS. On a PS4 Pro, you can choose to play it at 4K at 30 FPS, or at 1440p at 60 FPS.

The upgraded resolution and frame rate might not sound like a big draw but it’s certainly a treat to behold. Normal gameplay is much smoother, rotating the camera is now a dream with no tearing or stuttering. Cutscenes too are enhanced with the upgraded framerate, which makes them more fluid aswell.

The only thing that’s an issue with the new framerate is that the animated cutscenes (done by Studio Ghibli) are still stuck at their original 30 FPS. That makes them stand out (not in a good way) from the rest of the game. I guess redoing the animations would’ve been out of the question, considering the budget this remaster might’ve had.

Should you double dip?

The game doesn’t feel like a simple cash grab though, despite its lack of upgrades. Ni no Kuni on the PS3 (while decent) was also hampered by the technical limits of the machine.

I remember thinking that it could’ve been MUCH better had the game been on the PC at the time, with better hardware that would’ve benefited the game.

Well, now that better hardware IS here and the remastered version of Ni no Kuni is pretty much what the game should’ve been originally. While playing in 4K does make the game look awesome, I honestly feel that 1440p is much more suited for the game, since it’s 60 FPS on that resolution.

Ni no Kuni’s simplistic visuals don’t really lose that much from 1440p to 4K and the higher framerate makes everything a more pleasant experience overall.

The bottom line.

If you’ve never played Ni no Kuni before, there’s no better time to start then with this remaster. It packs everything the PS3 version had, plus better visuals and an upgraded framerate for silky smooth gameplay.

On the other hand, if you’re already done with the first game and have no urge to replay it, you might want to skip it for now. There’s nothing new that warrants an immediate play, though the upgrade visuals and framerate should make for a better replay experience.

If you hate JRPGs, then you’ll absolutely hate Ni no Kuni, despite its lovely art style as the underlying mechanics are as JRPG as they come.

TLDR:

Get if you’ve never played it before or want to replay the game. Skip if you hate JRPGs.

The Good.
– Higher resolution.
– Better framerate.
– All DLC included.

The Bad.
– Nothing else new.
– Animated cutscenes are still 30 FPS.
– Mr Drippy’s voice.

Sal's been in the industry since the early 2000s. He's written for a ton of gaming and tech publications including Playworks, Hardwarezone, HWM and GameAxis. Recently, Sal served as a juror for the Indie Game Awards at Taipei Game Show 2020. A geek and hardcore gamer, Sal will play everything, on any platform.

Sal's been in the industry since the early 2000s. He's written for a ton of gaming and tech publications including Playworks, Hardwarezone, HWM and GameAxis. Recently, Sal served as a juror for the Indie Game Awards at Taipei Game Show 2020. A geek and hardcore gamer, Sal will play everything, on any platform.