Really beautiful structure to uncovering the depths of the island. Finding new entry points, realizing that it's one huge, interlocking network. A shame we don't see much more of this dungeon-crawling-influenced, platformer-esque type of design for 3D games.

Amazing contrast between friendly surface areas and the droney ambience of the underground - feels reminiscent of Dark Souls's approach to ambience 14 years later. The way Roll's radio-filtered voice comes in at the right times to describe stuff works really well to punch up the anime emotions or atmosphere.

Once you got used to it the controls were actually pretty cool. There's a bunch of things that could have been ironed out without losing the combat's identity (in particular, the ability to aim without auto-lock on would have helped a lot. Likewise, a faster camera speed and bigger FOV in boss arenas).

Uncovering dungeon maps slowly and finding treasure is fun, even if it's pretty easy most of the time and you don't need most of the treasure.

It was also fun to hop around the towns and occasionally run into random quests. Really fun atmosphere there.

Overall a really interesting world structure, interesting that within a year or two, Ocarina of Time would come out.

Weak Points:
- The pirate fights were.. acceptable story-wise (I think it got old after a while though), but from an execution standpoint they were sometimes unwelcome and sloppy. In particular parts of the air fight and the sea fight - neither were mechanically interesting, and took forever. (Taking down their airship was a little cool, though - that's the kind of setpiece fight I think Works, since it's not really hard but it feels really cool).

- Special weapons ended up being underutilized. I didn't make a handful of them and pretty much dropped everything for the buster around midgame.

- The buster's range is overpowered - it ends up flattening many of the enemy designs

- The regular enemy designs aren't that interesting - the camera system struggles to reasonably handle 2-3 quick enemies. Encounters can be fun (circling and stopping to shoot at the right time), but some enemies involve just waiting around for them to drop their shield.

- Game was obviously rushed at points - the final dungeon in particular was a lot less interesting than the 2nd and 3rd sub-gates. The sub-cities definitely felt like they were going to have more narrative significance, and the drill ability didn't amount to much (there wasn't much reason to use all those shortcuts between the subgates by the end of the game.) Perhaps, too much budget spent on pirate fights...

Reviewed on May 24, 2022