Somewhere deep below Earth, in a secret Capcom laboratory Itsuno stole some cool moves from MonHun and DMC for both players and monsters alike, and put it in a game that wants you to kill the dragon. He succeeded but this attempt has left the budget and dev headcount scarred, delivering around 40% of his personal vision before they cut his team off

So the world is big to traverse, but small enough to keep track of, with its size good enough to mentally map it - after a while you will be probably able to navigate Gransys with ease. Its important points are placed in such a way that it kinda clicks. The beating heart of it, Gran Soren feels like one of those hubs that you go to have an adventure from, pushing against the wilds a little bit more as the plot progresses. All roads lead to it after all.

Going around here and there feels more like a bunch of hand-crafted places connected with small-ish, rather wide corridors that hold a bunch of chests and enemy encounters. Not an issue honestly, since combat is a joy in this game. Archer that can shoot 10 arrows at once - full marks, no questions asked. Fighting feels great.

Combat tools feel great to use, and magic spells feel like you are about to shatter the very earth you stand on. Good stuff.

The brave hero of my first playthrough

Pawns are a cool idea. There's been a few games I've played where doing stuff with AI companions seems like an afterthought, as those are usually the last resort - ideally you would go with 2-3 other human beings to turn whatever stands on the other side of the sword or gun in your co-op focused game. That makes the fallback usually miserable to interact with. Not here! You get the main companion, handcrafted (and taught) by you. Feels a bit more personal to hear them learn as the game goes, or play that one line about wolves/goblins. By the end I got attached to mine, I'm not going to lie.

Two remaining slots in your party are the guys you rent from other players. One of the interviews mentions that they tried to replicate the vibe of forum RPGs in Dogma. Async way of cooperating certainly captures a part of that vibe... or so I assume, never was a part of those. We all work together - your guests learn, your pawn being taken for a trip around Gransys can pick up something too.

It's him, the man with the stickman as the prophecies foretold (sidekick from my first playthrough, possibly a Gaul)

Honestly? The travel, async cooperation and optimizing the road trips (though probably in NG+) makes me feel a bit like I'm playing a fantasy, fighting-focused offshoot of Death Stranding. But small in scope. That's a good thing to feel. On the second go you can probably cut the playthrough by half, if not more.

Nights are scary when the lights go out, the game isn't lying

I like the story. It's not overly complicated, but the core has that certain something to it. The dragon himself does a lot of heavy lifting. A handful of lines, but the delivery is top-notch.

Designs are, hm, paying tribute to a certain black swordsman manga, and the game does not really hide it. Some characters and story beats do trigger my pattern recognition. The classic fantasy stuff can also be easily seen by the naked eye. Monsters deliver, even if those aren't really unique most of the time. Though it's a shame most of the enemies in the overworld are the cyclops that overstay their welcome a bit. Dragon steals the show, a few one-shows here and their designs are nice too.

Quest design - pretty basic. It has its glorious raids and neat setpieces. It has some more basic busywork. Latter leads itself to uncovering more land or trying to make use of Dogma's mechanics in a good way, keeping it fresh enough. Hunting the griffin has such a cool end to it, and the whole game's ending sequence is something I remember fondly, even if you can see the fuel tank flashing that enar-empty warning

Replaying this game in NG+ is also something it handles well. Need to get to Dark Arisen content, but I might go for 100% achievements on this one. It feels comfy to push buttons in there.

A good fantasy game with great combat and traversal. That is all it is - and honestly, that's what makes it one of the best there are for me.