Title: Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds
Platforms: Android (Reviewed), iOS, PC
Release date: May 25, 2022
As a longtime Studio Ghibli fan, the moment I saw a Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds trailer, I was filled with desire. This mobile MMORPG looked absolutely amazing, which, when using the Ghibli art style, should be a given.
But here’s the thing, we’ve all seen a game that looks amazing and then turns out to be complete dog water. Hell, especially in 2022, when the rules and regulations around false advertising seem to have completely disappeared. I’ve talked about this before with games like Dislyte and the mobile market as a whole and it still sucks. So how does Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds deliver on its promise?
Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds starts you off with a table of five adventurers. From there, you choose which one you want to play with. Don’t worry, there’s some customization to them so you won’t all be the same. I made this video here to showcase all the different characters so you can get an idea of the various playstyles they all exhibit.
All five characters are pretty awesome. There’s the Rogue who, in addition to being an archer, has a variety of buffs he can cast on his teammates. There’s the Destroyer, a traditional tank class that uses its hammer to take out all enemies within range. There’s the witch who has a really cool floating spear she uses to cast spells. The engineer uses guns and machines to fight, while also serving as a healer. Finally, we have the one that Howl’s Moving Castle fans will probably skip all over, the Swordsman. With its great protagonist energy, quick swordsmanship, and overwhelming charm, it will be a favorite for people who still can’t shut up about Gambit being their favorite X-Men.
Once you get started, you find yourself shockingly in a futuristic-looking business. Apparently, they figured out how to access the path between our world and the world of Ni no Kuni mentioned in the various games. They can actually send people over there where they can use it as a kind of video game. Is it moral? Surely not. But you know what? We will look beyond that.
This actually comes into play a lot, as some of the real people in the fantasy world are confused by people calling them an “NPC” or people fighting and suddenly acting like idiots in the middle of cities. It’s really interesting storytelling that tales like Sword Art Online seem to hide. There are many situations where some of the “player characters” are actively causing trouble that you need to stop in order to increase your reputation.
The action itself is very similar to games like the aforementioned Genshin Impact where you explore a large, fairly open world, using the left corner for directions and the right corner for your various attacks, a standard attack and several special attacks that recharge over time.
The attack animation for all characters is really well done and even my Destroyer, a character with no special moves other than swinging a hammer in different directions, was exciting to watch.
Now, since this is primarily a mobile game, you might be wondering “Where’s the gacha?” Rest assured, it’s not the exception to the rule, it’s here too. Instead of having a hero play, you get a Pokémon-style creature that travels with you, fighting alongside you. Your first is an adorable mouse with a budding bow that looks exactly like the game character Moss. I love it.
These creatures appear whenever you start a battle and fight alongside you. Keeping a diverse range of creatures with you means you almost always have something on you that hits an enemy’s weakness. They can also cast buffs, debuff enemies, or even heal. They are pretty awesome.
You can witness your first attempt at summoning one of these little guys in the video below, while learning about how battles go, how you summon creatures, how you navigate the world, and how your little ones buddies show up and fight with you.
Overall, the game is almost exactly what I wanted. But there are a few issues, so let’s get to it.
First, the buttons for attacks are ginormous. There were many times when I tried to flip the camera and activated a big attack by accident. This didn’t cause any negative effects in most places, but since there are areas where you can attack other players, I see it creating quite a bit of misunderstanding, especially if you’re trying to maintain a positive reputation in the Game.
Second, this boy is slow. I get it’s just been released but there’s a bunch of servers and there were times when I would tell my character to open a box of items and then put my phone down for two minutes until for the game to decide it was my turn in the command queue. I’m sure this will be fixed over time.
The third is almost unforgivable to me. You see, this game is ultimately a Netmarble game, and similar to what they are slowly doing with the Marvel games, Netmarble wants to add cryptocurrency to EVERY game.
I didn’t even notice it until I was researching their website when I found this page. Apparently, by playing you will earn tokens – “Territe” and “Asterite” – in the game. These are used for character progression in the game but can also be exchanged for crypto tokens (NKT and NKA) on Marblex, Netmarble’s blockchain. These can be traded or sold to other players or exchanged for MBX, Netmarbel’s proprietary cryptocurrency. If it’s too confusing, don’t worry, there’s an easy-to-follow explanation of how it’s done on the webpage.
That’s a lot of explaining for a scam but, as always, cryptocurrency and NFTs are still the Mary Kay pyramid scheme for kids who think they’re too good for a regular door-to-door sales pyramid scheme. It’s interesting to see that Netmarble is going to get into it just as the whole scheme seems to have its value plummeting. But as long as it doesn’t interfere with the game, I can live with it.
People mining in-game cryptocurrency are going to affect the average gamer as much as people asking for money at freeway exits affect my driving. It won’t change my day, but it might spark a conversation with my kids about how sometimes people’s lives go wrong. As for me personally, I knew we were already in the worst timeline, but seeing a Ghibli-esque world with a crypto sibling rip-off is like seeing a dodgy mall kiosk in the middle of the Smithsonian.
But looking past that horrible sore on the game, the lag, and the slightly problematic button layout, we honestly have an exceptional game on our hands. I hope it’s one that comes to consoles like Genshin Impact did. As of now, it is currently on PC, Android, and iOS.
Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds (Android) Rating: 7.5/10
Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds is an absolutely gorgeous game that feels like you’re in a Studio Ghibli rendition of Sword Art Online. The story is smart, the animation and character design are top-notch, and the soundtrack, voice work, and lighting effects are all stellar. Minor gameplay issues aside, the biggest issue is Netmarble’s shameless need to take a beloved thing like Studio Ghibli and convert it into a way to lure more people into the crypto scam.