The gameplay itself, also, I had an issue with. It was very easy on normal, I lost 0 times and had almost no strategy besides ‘jump over the enemies with the girl who jumps really far and score within seconds of getting the ball every time’. But I don’t think a higher difficultly would have made me like it more — it probably would have made me like it less.
I just have to keep coming back to this — the game felt tedious. The rites felt like something I was obligated to get through in order to progress. If they were hard, I’d feel like I was obligated but also frustrated.
Two things that perfectly illustrate the tediousness I’m talking about are these: first, you’re going through this world, feeling like you’re building up to the end, and they drop a bomb on you — like Groundhog Day, you have to go do it all again. After that point the pacing actually felt like it sped up, for a while at least, but it’s something everyone bitterly complained about when Bravely Default did it and they do it here as well.
Second, after this ‘twist’, you get an increase in your travel speed that cuts down on a lot of the time spent watching a wagon roll from place to place, but soon enough, that form of travel becomes tedious as well as the distances you have to traverse become much greater.
That’s why I say the game is a bit of an odd duck. If you were to judge it on its components, it should be a masterpiece, but in practice, it didn’t grab me emotionally, and I constantly felt like I was jumping through hoops for payoffs that never really came.
Would I recommend it? It’s hard to say. It is artistically interesting, both in terms of the actual artistry and the creativity of the whole conceit. If you want to appreciate what a great studio can make when they’re going a little bit off the beaten track, then absolutely play it. But it’s not fun like Megaman X or something is fun, it’s fun in the way an art museum is fun.