If given one word to describe this game, that is what I would use. Loading up this game is like stepping into a watercolour painting, in a room filled with poets.
The question you’d most likely be asking at this point is; “would that really be my kind of thing?” It’s not really a major selling feature for most people. But, even though this game at it’s core is an artpiece, it is wrapped in extremely good gameplay.
You play a young Austrian girl called Aurora, who awakens in a strange world touched by darkness, in 1895. You’ll explore the vivid landscapes, interact with the colourful characters, and slowly transform from a naive young girl into a bold warrior. This is aided by soon finding a sword.
And you’ll need that sword, because there are always enemies lurking. These encounters is where this game really shines. It’s a pseudo-real-time-turn-based-strategy combat, where each thing is represented on a time bar. When you near the end, you’re in a “Cast” zone, where you choose your attack/defense. These have different speeds; higher powered attacks will take longer to complete. If you hit something that’s in this zone before they hit you (or vice versa), then they will be interrupted and sent back along the timeline. I cannot express how deeply satisfying it is to overtake an enemy by the smallest margin and send it back. There is an edge-of-your-seat level to this that I was immensely addicted to.
Enemies can be tough, and attack in packs, so you know you shouldn’t be alone. You’ll find controllable companions along the way, who will join your party. Each of them are experts in certain types of combat; you’ll find a jester which helps with healing/reviving, and a wizard that deals great elemental damage, to name just two. However, you can only battle using two at a time, but switching mid-battle is possible.
You’ll also have a small luminous droplet following you, which when controlled by the mouse, can aid in many ways, such as blinding enemies to slow them, or heal your party members.
My best advice is to play this on expert initially, unless you want to easily win each battle. I did have to dial it bask to casual after a while, though.
Aurora also soon gets the ability to fly, which greatly helps with the exploring aspect. And explore you will; there are chests and goodies everywhere for you to pick up, most importantly the Oculi. These gems, when assigned to your party members, give certain attack and defense buffs which can be critical for particular enemy types. They are also craftable, opening even more types of buffs. The sheer amount of combinations means you’ll spend a lot of time here.
The story is charming, with lots of humour sprinkled throughout. And although the dialogue is spoken entirely in verse, I find it refreshing.