I am confident that 30 years from now, when someone creates the Criterion-like essential collection of video games, Ni No Kuni: Wraith of The White Witch will rank at the top of the list. Developed by Level 5 and Studio Ghilbli(!) (yes you read correctly that Studio Ghilbli), Ni No Kuni is an overwhelmingly beautiful and heartbreaking narrative.
The game follows a young boy, Oliver, as he adventures into an alternate world in hopes of saving his recently deceased mother. The effect of playing Oliver as he transforms from powerless orphan to wizard hero is riveting but often leaves me emotionally crushed by the experience.
Throughout his journey in a parallel universe, nearly all of the characters that Oliver meets also exist in his home world. Is Oliver’s adventure through a world of Animal Kings, Dark Overlords, and Fairy Guardians real, or am I playing through the imagination of a very sad boy?
A story akin to Guillermo del Toro's Pan’s Labyrinth, visuals by Miyazaki’s Studio Ghilbli, and with an emotionally epic score by Joe Hisaishi, Ni No Kuni is like being lost in an overwhelming daydream.