This game quickly became one of my Top 5 Favorite Games on Steam. It's a JRPG-style game from an non-Japanese indie game company named Winter Wolves. This company is mostly known for dating sims and visual novels, but honestly, I think this game is their best yet. (Although, to be fair, I haven't played all their games yet.)
Important note: The DLC is a MUST HAVE. Honestly, the story would seem very incomplete without it, so if you get this game, get the DLC. This review is also based on having it.
While this is definitely a RPG, the fact that a lot of their games are visual novels definitely shows in the design. There is zero action in the turn-based battles. In fact, they rely solely on pictures to represent what takes place in the battle. For a lot of people, this is a flaw, but for me, I was indifferent to this type of gameplay. What was important was that the game was fun to play.
It took me roughly 20 or so hours to get through the game the first time. This is considered short for a RPG, but it has potential for several playthroughs. Personally, I went through 13 playthroughs, going for all the achievements. It can get a bit repetitive going through the game that many times, but thankfully, the creators realized this; there is a cheat mode that enables "story mode" in which the player automatically wins every battle, which can get you through the game much quicker. Obviously, the game is story-driven, which is a big highlight to me. The story is definitely influenced by Lord of the Rings. I can't blame for that, LotR is awesome. However, there are a couple of races that do not exist in the LotR world that exist in this game. Another 1-up this game has is that there's an even distribution of gender between the characters, unlike the sausagefest that is LotR.
There is a bit of a dating sim element to this game, but you can actually get through the game without romancing anyone (in fact, there's an achievement for that). There are several people the main character can romance, which is what gives the game the potential for several playthroughs. Each one has its own unique effect on the story.
Kudos to the creators for allowing same-sex coupling, which is a reoccurring thing in the Winter Wolves games.
Sort of spoiler-ish, but not really:
There are also a few different ways to end the game. Ultimately, the Death Knight (main villain) is defeated in each ending, but how you defeat him depends on things you do in the game. I looked up which way is canon out of curiosity, but ultimately, it's up to the player to decide how the Death Knight should meet his "fate." There's also a pretty heavy hint at the end of the game that there will be a sequel.
- There are absolutely no people of color in this game. White people EVERYWHERE; there isn't even a NPC that has a shade or two. And no, blue-skinned dark elves do not count. I mean realistic people of color.
- The game could do without so much sexualization of the characters, particularly the women. It isn't really necessary that they be half-naked, especially when they're supposed to be fighting in a war.
- I found one technical error in the game. In each town/village, there's a shop and a fame score. The player can earn fame by doing tasks for that particular town/village. Well, sometimes, if you go to a shop in a town/village that has no fame score yet, it'll re-direct to a previous shop. For example, while I was playing, I went to the elves' village's shop and it was linking me to the Citadel's shop. However, once I earned some fame in the elves' village, it correctly went to their shop. This error can actually benefit the player, so it isn't a huge deal.
Despite its flaws, I definitely recommend this game to anyone who likes RPGs, especially if they enjoy story-driven games and visual novels / dating sims.