…well, why don’t you watch me play for a while? I’m sure you’ll get the idea.
As you can see, I’m playing as a fantasy adventurer beating up monsters.
How do you choose a character to play as? None of them look like real people. Is this game about body image issues?
The designs are a bit extreme, aren’t they? George Kamitani deliberately exaggerated the features of the characters to make the art stand out - and it certainly does. Everything is an archetype, and while there’s no real depth to the story, world, or characters, it’s a beautiful game.
Beautiful… I see. Mermaids are more beautiful with a gluteus maximus. A perfect blend of fish and woman.
Well, I’m not sure I’d say that. There are a number of places in the game where the art sexualizes female characters in unnecessary and distracting ways. It made some players and reviewers uncomfortable.
You keep missing the enemies. Why are you doing that? I feel like they would take more damage if you hit them.
The fact that the characters are two dimensional but fighting in a three dimensional space unfortunately means it’s not always clear whether your character is positioned to actually hit the enemies. Otherwise, though, the combat mechanics are very solid and satisfying. Each character plays differently and the boss battles are fantastic and varied.
Then why are you spending so much time organizing your items? Is that more fun?
The core combat experience is wonderful, but the game’s systems are designed in a way that forces you to spend a huge amount of time juggling your items. It’d be even worse if we were playing together, since only one player can do it at a time - the game very much feels tuned for online play, rather than local co-op or single-player.
The inventory micromanagement is probably the worst example of how the game gets in its own way, but it’s not the only one. The character progression is interesting, with a lot of skills to choose from and a variety of possible builds, but the player is discouraged from experimentation by not easily being able to reassign skill points. Without an item that’s only available in Hard mode, if you want to try another build you just have to create a whole new character and level them up, which can take quite a while.
Did they do that to so the game will last longer?
Perhaps, but it may have come from a more philosophical source. There’s a fairly common view that your decisions in games are only meaningful if they can’t easily be revoked. From that mindset, being able to freely move skill points around would cheapen your character by reducing your investment in their progression.
So repeatedly fighting the same monsters over and over is meaningful?
In a sense. But repetition isn’t a bad thing if it’s satisfying. The combat here is well-tuned - fighting monsters is why anyone plays this game in the first place. And as with any online game, the other human players lend variety to the experience.
So this is a game about online co-op brawling, finicky skill progression, and item management in a gorgeous if sometimes hypersexualized fantasy world where the story doesn’t matter.