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Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, the review of the spectacular Level-5 MMORPG

Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, the review of the spectacular Level-5 MMORPG
Written by aquitodovale

Almost a year after its Japanese debut, the new MMORPG developed by Level-5 also arrives in the West on iOS and Android: the review of Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds.

The western debut of Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds puts us again in contact with a generation of mobile games characterized by an unprecedented production value for this market, as they are often designed to land simultaneously on PC and consoles, as happened recently with Genshin Impact.

The series has also become very popular with us starting from the episode developed exclusively for PS3, The Threat of the White Witch, but the connections with the world of smartphones and portability experiences have always been present: just think that the debut happened on Nintendo DS and that the first mobile chapter dates back to 2010.

So what we are witnessing more than a revolution is a sort of return to origins, although in the form of an MMORPG with some rather obscure aspects, you see the substrate based on blockchain and cryptocurrencies that many talk about with very little enthusiasm.

Either way, the wait is over here Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds review.

History

Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, our character connects to Soul Divers

The magical world of Ni no Kuni has been told several times by Level-5, even in formats other than videogame. It almost always happens that the protagonists of the history suddenly find themselves thrown into this mysterious place, grappling with threats to face and people in need to help, and Cross Worlds from this point of view is no exception.

However, the incipit changes, with a narrative expedient perhaps not very original, but effective: a multinational has discovered how to connect our universe to that of Ni no Kuni, giving life to a sort of virtual reality game that people paw to be able to use. But when we connect to Soul Divers, something unexpected happens.

The style of Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds
The style of Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds

In fact, it seems that our alter ego is a kind of hybrid, a creature that actually belongs to two worlds at the same time and that precisely for this reason has the ability to change things. He found himself witnessing the fierce confrontation between a mysterious assailant and Queen Sia of Nameless Kingdomthe protagonist receives the gift of great power before being teleported away from Cluu.

The latter represents a bit of the mascot of the adventure: a funny guy flying and talking pig that will not fail to liven up every situation and every dialogue (by the way: the game is completely dubbed in English or Japanese, with Italian subtitles), accompanying us in the mission of rebuilding the Nameless Kingdom after asking for help from the surrounding territories, starting with Eostaria.

Structure

Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, our Swordsman and his inventory
Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, our Swordsman and his inventory

At the beginning of the adventure we will be asked to select one of the five classes available, namely Witch, Destroyer, Engineer, Outlaw and Swordsman. Depending on our choice, we will be able to have different abilities: spells from a distance, a great physical resistance, the ability to summon mechanisms and weapons, to shoot with the bow or to fight with the sword. We will also be able to change the appearance of each fighter thanks to an editor and an abundance of cosmetic items to unlock.

After the introductory phase and the landing in Eostaria, we will be able to take part in one huge amount of different activities, moving within the scenarios together with all the other players on our server, as happens in MMOs. As mentioned, our goal will be to rebuild the kingdom that has just been destroyed, and to do so we will have to explore a total of thirteen different locations, to which, however, we will only be able to access by leveling up.

Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, the protagonist explores one of the first scenarios
Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, the protagonist explores one of the first scenarios

This type of approach inevitably shows the side to some degree of repetitivenessgiven that often the tasks necessary to improve the reputation and then proceed towards new stages of the story turn out to be simple fetch quests, or even there are missions that we can complete automatically by paying out a few coins.

It is also necessary to accept the intrusiveness of ainterface who always seems willing to distract us with something new, whether it’s an unlocked achievement or an item that has become available, tokens for summoning or rewards related to access, special timed events or more: a setting definitely “oriental” which, however, could appear too chaotic and fragmentary.

Gameplay

Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, one of the characters who will provide us with assignments
Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, one of the characters who will provide us with assignments

The mechanics of Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds refer to the tradition of MMORPGs, therefore with fighting in real time in which, however, we will have to deal with a rather chaotic and badly organized touch control system, currently devoid of options that allow you to set the commands in a different way.

In fact, we have a virtual analog stick on the left side of the screen which, however, is too often confused with the movement of the view, instead delegated to the right side or, better, to the small space that remains between the (tiny) buttons reserved for attack and moves. specials, to jump and dodge, and icons that literally fill the display, creating incredible confusion at first.

Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, a fight sequence highlights the crowding of the interface
Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, a fight sequence highlights the crowding of the interface

From this point of view, the comparison with the aforementioned Genshin Impact (review) is merciless: the title of miHoYo, thanks to an already substantial path of updates, manages to manage its functions much better and offers controls arranged in a more rational way. , in addition to supporting the use of controller on iOS: a feature that Cross Worlds unfortunately still lacks.

Then there are the automatisms, which are really overwhelming and that it is not easy to deactivate completely. Accepting a quest, for example, activates by default the automatic movement of the character towards the next point of interest and you must from time to time touch the icon with the mission objective to return to manual commands.

Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, a huge cat acts as a mount to move faster
Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, a huge cat acts as a mount to move faster

For the fights the matter is even more complicated, and in fact it took us a few hours to finally understand how to act in the options screen to prevent our character from coming into conflict with any enemy that might come within range, also automatically executing the special moves and healing techniques: absurd that the developers have set an implant that by default it works without any intervention by the playerrather than the other way around.

That said, even once all the nasty automatisms of Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds were eliminated, we were faced with a combat system with some interesting extras, see the Familiars and their abilities, but in general less refined, precise and satisfying than Genshin Impact, very inconsistent and slippery in the rendering of impacts (which however often happens with MMOs), as well as spoiled by big problems with camera management when choosing the closest view.

Graphics and sound

Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds and its Studio Ghibli-style character design
Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds and its Studio Ghibli-style character design

It is undoubtedly the artistic sector that represents the strength of the game, which effectively incorporates the splendid character design of Hayao Miyazaki and of Studio Ghibli to deliver wonderful characters and sequences with a high degree of spectacularity, very well directed and capable of keeping the attention always alive, even if we are perhaps witnessing a simple evocation.

There graphics of Cross Worlds would not disfigure on consoles, thanks to a clever use of cel shading but also a rich set of animations, in particular for the protagonists, and settings often able to give wonderful views.

Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds.  some of the many graphics options
Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds. some of the many graphics options

Everything can be set to scale resolution and effects depending on the device used, with a lot of options: from textures to shadows, from details to effects, from anti-aliasing to ambient occlusion, finally passing through the frame rate. . On the iPhone 12 Pro it is possible to play with everything to the maximum but limited to 30 frames per second, since a 60 fps the phone overheats quickly.

As for the soundthe splendid music signed by Joe Hisaishi they manage to enhance any sequence very well and the dubbing appears very well done, both in English and (especially) in Japanese. The presence of subtitles in Italian is also an extra not to be underestimated, since other similar productions do not boast a localization in our language.

Comment

Tested version iPhone

Digital Delivery

App Store, Google Play

Price
Free

Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds is an experience with two souls: a bright and colorful one, which draws strength from the extraordinary technical and artistic sector of the game, from its funny characters, from the engaging plot and from the lush environments that you find yourself exploring in the course of the very long MMO-style campaign; another dark and mysterious, such as the choice to activate by default a whole series of absurd automatisms that is not easy to turn off, the inevitable repetition of quests to level up, a chaotic interface and a very little optimized control system, which is paired with often inconsistent combat mechanics. The production value of the project is undoubted and you will want to play it even just for its Studio Ghibli style atmospheres, but the experience has very specific limits and it will be necessary to understand if Level-5 will actually work to solve them.

PRO

  • Extraordinary technical and artistic sector
  • Structure full of content
  • Many scenarios, many characters

VERSUS

  • Excessive and intrusive automatisms
  • Control system to improve
  • Inevitably repetitive



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