Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch review for Nintendo Switch

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PS3 (Remastered PS4, PC)
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: LEVEL-5
Medium: Digital/Cartridge
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

Even though it?s several years old now, I still think that Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is one of the most gorgeous games ever made. Credit for this, of course, should probably go to Studio Ghibli, who brought their animation expertise to the game, and who helped create something that, at times, is on par with any of their classic films.

This isn?t just nostalgia talking, either, and I can say it with certainty now that the game — not, it should be noted, the remastered version that?s available on PS4 and PC — has arrived on the Switch. It?s still a sight to behold, with the kind of lush animation where you can feel the care and attention to detail bursting from the screen in every scene. In fact, not only does Ni no Kuni look amazing during the cutscenes, it even dazzles when you?re actively interacting with the world.

On top of that, the storytelling and the voice acting remain absolutely incredible. The story — about a young orphan named Oliver traveling through a magical world, trying to bring back his dead mother — is heartfelt, and earnest, and all the other positive adjectives you?d want to apply. It?s brought to life by the work of an excellent group of voice actors, chief among them Welsh actor Steffan Rhodri as Drippy, Lord High Lord of the Fairies, who keeps things from ever getting too maudlin or sappy. The whole thing feels like a movie, and it?s very, very easy to get sucked in.

That said, the main problem that plagued the game in 2013 is still just as apparent now. Combat is a chore throughout this game. It?s kind of a take-off of Pok?mon, where either you or your captured monsters — sorry, familiars — battle other monsters you encounter throughout the game as you?re traversing its very large world It?s not very fluid, since it tries to land somewhere between real-time fighting and turn-based battles. You fight monsters on separate screens, and the battle takes place in real time, but if you want to switch between physical attacks, magic attacks, defending, and using items, you have to awkwardly use your D-pad to change from one to the other. It never quite clicks, which is especially unfortunate when you consider that this game calls for quite a bit of grinding over its 40+ hours — that?s a lot of awkward switching, and it never totally feels natural.

But in all honesty, if that?s just the price of entry for experiencing the wonder of Ni no Kuni?s visuals…well, so be it. It?s rare to find a game that?s as visually appealing as this one, and if that means going through a bit (okay, a lot) of grinding to see all this game has to offer, it may just be a price worth paying.

Bandai Namco provided us with a Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A