I love this game. It's been a long time since I actually felt awed by a game. Stripped down to it's bare essentials, it's an action-RPG, but that tells about 10% of what this game is about. Let me just telly ou about the finer points in this game that made it an instant classic to me, and I'll let you decide whether these appeal to you as well.
Graphics: Hand-drawn, colorful and cartoonish graphics. Monster design is very unique and the game has a certain feel and look to it, of which the graphics play a huge part. Everything is done with amazing detail and even the weapons and spirits all have their distinct look.
Audio: Music is great, and I think that it's not at all a bad idea to have a soundtrack version of this game. I didn't get it since I usually think that's a bit silly, but I really enjoyed the music in this game. The sound effects are also well done, but what really takes the cake is the narration. You have a sexy, husky Morgan-Freeman-ish male voice narrate everything you do and what happens in this game. It's such an awesome idea that I just had to lay the controller down for 5 seconds and give the designers a small applause. This is probably the second-best story telling tool I've seen in a game. It's a wonderful way of immersing you in the story, and I even had a few good laughs when I'd do something stupid and the narrator would grow weary with my antics :D
Gameplay: Action and RPG. Usually that spring to mind Diablo and it's numerous clones, but this game has so much more going for it than that. First of all, there are no silly "skill trees" or endless stats you have to carefully balance to make this work. You have spirits and 2 weapons. Yup, that's it. Make no mistake though, all weapons are unique and have their own ups and downs, so equipping yourself with the best combination possible is never as easy as it seems. You can upgrade your weapons with "money" (called shards) and parts found in shops, in-game or in weapon-specific hunting grounds, which test your ability with each weapon. Spirits are basically boosters that can increase your health, make you score more critical hits when at low health or even enhance your counter-striking abilities. Needless to say, you can also find this strewn across shops and the wilderness and so on. The amount you can equip depends on your level.
Most of the time you will be fighting numerous enemies and basically the combat consists of striking at the right time, being aware of your surroundings as not to be overwhelmed and using your shield to protect yourself and, with the right timing, counter-striking. Countering is done by pulling the shield up just before an enemy strike, and you are rewarded with that bad guy getting a nice whallop from your bull shield. You can roll out of the way if things get too hot.
That's it. I'm gonna finish up with saying that the story is great and even a bit moving by the end, so if you're into good stories the game has even that covered.
If this review didn't convince you or it was too long for you to read I'll jsut say this. You probably spend more money on hamburgers or some other needless purchases in a week than you do on games like this in a year. Do yourself a favor and skip buying that triple-frappe-mocha-latte and get this instead. You will love it and thank me for it.