An excellent metroidvania type game that has a few flaws but is overall a great experience with plenty of replay value. I strongly recommend it if you are a fan of the genre. The leveling caps at 20 which came as a surprise but it is possible to respec stats with a hidden npc. Gameplay:
The fighting system takes a few pages from "spectacle fighters". The combo system features light and heavy attacks, juggles, aerial attacks, spells, assist characters, focus mode and focus mode finishers, blocking, parrying and skill canceling that enables you to dodge and/or continue to most of the available actions. It works really well for the most part, but mixing spells into the fight is sometimes bit of a challenge.
Spells are activated by pressing a spell button and then a direction to activate the chosen spell or just pressing in the air to use the aerial spell, which works pretty well in most situations, but the focus mode is also activated by pressing the spell button and then light attack, which makes it pretty easy to activate by accident. It is also bound to a trigger on 360 controller by default and personally i'd prefer it being in a face button, but that makes activating focus mode insanely awkward.
Game features the standard style of metroidvania maps, each area has its separate map that shows if the room has a locked door and what type of lock it is, which rooms connect, the basic stuff. Exploration is rewarded with new armors, materials and crew members that can teach you focus skills, assist, strenghten spells or craft 2 of the 4 available weapons. Different characters get different weapons and have different starting spells that are unique to characters. Most of the areas are locked until you get equipment and spells that allow further exploration and it has a good feel as there are lots of things to find.
Most of the armors are locked in a kind of platform challenge rooms and here the game stumbles a little as the platforming aspect has some issues. The control feels a bit floaty and its easy to overshoot your target, there are also some issues with collision detection as it's difficult to jump to narrow corridors and sometimes it feels that the landing is a little slippery. The character can grab a ledge if you press towards it, and will climb up if you press up and it is very sensitive. If you press away from the ledge you're hanging from, the character jumps. There are a few parts where you have to do that quickly and it's easy to mess up.
The game has a few timed events that can be missed and they have various effects to the gameworldVisuals:
The animation and spriteart is simply beautiful. It is simple enough that you can see what happens on screen and detailed enough to still look very good. There is a decent variety of environments and each has their own identity. Some bosses look simply amazing. Character portraits and cutscenes/storyboards are heavily stylized but personally i feel they are weakest part of the art.Audio:
The music is really beautiful and fits the overall aesthetic and situations really well. Sound effects wary from good to irritating, there are few sound effects that just sound bad, but for the most part, they are serviceable.The story:
The game begins by the protagonist falling from the sky into a forgotten land. where he finds demons, angels and ferals fighting and a tribe of humans trying to survive. The humans who live in this land have white hair for undisclosed reason and they distrust the protagonist who they fear could be a demon or angel because the protagonists hair is not white. It sounds better in the game. From there on the player must earn their trust by helping them survive and also try to find his/her crew that fell in different places in this land. The game fills in backstory as it progresses and it's allright, but not very memorable.Enemy and boss designs:
There is a decent variety of enemies that have distinct behaviours and they encourage and sometimes require player to use different tactics like prioritizing to a larger enemy that can resurrect smaller enemies, breaking shields with magical attacks or dashing through a tanking enemy with invulnerable shield. They are pretty easy when fought alone but can be tricky in groups.
Bosses are for the most part unique and have different abilities, there are a few humanoids that have player like abilities, but most bosses behave very differently from player character. Almost all bosses become stronger the lower health they get to and you need different strategies to survive. The end result is ranked and if you did well enough you get a stat boost. Some bosses have gimmicks like healing or needing to damage different parts in predetermined order and they are, for the most part interesting.
I have to give a mention for the final boss however as it is not very fun. If you have not prepared well enough, it can became an endless dps race against it's healing ability and your ability to deal damage as there is only a set amount of damage you can deal during the phase it is vulnerable. It is a cycle of trying to activate the damaging phase by damaging it's shield while the boss tries to heal, if the boss heals it repairs the shield nullifying the progress toward the damaging phase. The boss looks epic but can be very frustrating to fight with.