The game first appears to be standard third person RPG fodder, with you fetching the stick and buying the bone for a handful of coins and a slightly sharper stick with which to poke enormous seagulls , but persevere past the "training" area and the game suddenly opens up. Access to training and trade skills is almost immediate and lucrative depending on what path you take in you first wanderings.
The items you can aquire are fairly standard and deceptively limited, mostly the same items with greater or lesser effectiveness and a slew of weapons that will simply find their way into the bags of the nearest merchant. Itemization doesn't get interesting until you start raiding the old trap-filled ruins where you will find the truly special stuff.
Once the initial area is done with you are essentially let loose to explore. You can ignore the main quest and go looting ruins, breaking monster camps and generally honing your combat skills; and you will need to- this is no "dice roll to hit" rubbish- victory or defeat rests entirely on your own ability to outmanouvere and outthink the AI. Until you master this you'll be eating the floor a great deal. But are you really afraid of a challenge? If you enjoy the game playing itself for you and pressing one button to "win" a fight, then you should look elsewhere for fun.
Everything in this title oozes atmosphere and the ambient sound effects, music and lighting support this. The locations are lovingly crafted- if a little small- and the underground areas carry a sense of danger and mystery.
If the game has a flaw it's in the sometimes inconsistent and unimaginative animation on the main character. He runs like a puppet and he jumps like he has antigravity soles on his boots. A minor niggle in such an otherwise satisfying game but one you cant ignore as you are reminded of it each time you move.
To sum up, this isnt a game for the weak willed or impatient, the "i win button" generation probably wont appriciate it for what it offers, only complaining about what it does not. If you are looking for an actual adventure rather than yet another tediously over-produced theme-park ride, you could do far worse than this, especially at this price.