I picked up this title because an extremely respectable gamer recommended it to me, and he had yet to be wrong on any of the other games I have played. Low and behold, he is right again! (Thats right, bow down to Forgotten_Freshness!)
I'll start with the graphics. While they aren't GREAT, they aren't bad either. Personally, I think it suits the game and its style very well. It looks rather kiddish, and I guess at the true heart of this game it is, but I wouldn't have it any other way for this particular gem. I didn't see one graphical glitch throughout the game, and all of the environments look great with rich, bold colors. The character models are all very well detailed, and my only complaint is that the weapons don't have custom art. That in itself isn't really a big deal, but when you equip your main character with a battle mace and on the battle screen he is wielding a big orange alchemy cane, it gets rather annoying.
Next up is the sound. The soundtrack is good, but not great. Lots of the tracks really fit what is going on, but a lot of the main themes of the tracks are re-used. For example, all the shopping districts in town have the same theme, but with regional variations. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but after a while you really cant tell one from the other. The battle sounds are really good though, with each of the spells/attacks having a nice, distinct sound. One minor annoyance is what the characters say when they cast a particular spell... If you're an item collector, hearing "Yummy candy!" for the 12,000th time will get old.
Something very important to me in an RPG in particular is the story. While this game doesn't have an exceedingly exceptional storyline, it does what it does well enough to warrant playing through until the end. Without going into too much detail, you start out as an alchemist, a dying profession in the world. Most people you come across have never seen one, and you soon meet up with Jessica and become a Galgazit (think Pokémon hunter, but only one type of Pokémon...) Of course, the story gets much more complex as you are introduced to the BIG PROBLEM in the world (feigning mana), and are soon appointed the task of fixing such a problem.
Of moderate importance to me is the game play. This game CERTAINLY excels in this area, as the battles are fast and not drab. If you've ever played the Lunar series, this bears some resemblance but without the moving to attack. Also, you can fuse items in battle to aid your party or harm the opposition, which is a nice addition, although until late in the game it generally isn't that useful. Each of the 6 characters have at least SOME use, though some are definitely more useful than others which is a shame because I don't really DISLIKE any of the characters. The main thing that keeps me coming back to this game play is that it isn't just a "Press X" kind of RPG. Aside from the battle system, this game offers a lot of other things as well. The main thing being item creation, which I really didn't think I would like at first but was soon hooked on. There are 4 or 5 shops throughout the world that from time to time will come up with new "synthesis options", which are basically new items you can make if you bring them the right materials. Many of these items didn't serve much of a purpose, but it sure is fun to make them anyway!
Lastly I'll cover the extras this game features. Once you complete the main quest, there is an extra dungeon () that will eat up a few more hours before you end up passing up this game. Upon the completion of the bonus dungeon, you receive a VERY nice reward. Along with a bonus dungeon, there is a full unlockable soundtrack list, art gallery, movie gallery, and character information sheets. All of these are obtained by progressing further and further in item collection. By taking the items you've found throughout the world to a collector, the collector will mark which ones on the list you have found. The more you find, the more rewards you get.
If I haven't said so to you personally already, I HIGHLY recommend picking up this title. Some may not particularly enjoy the generic fetch quest of a plot, but the battle system and item creation prove to be more than an addicting feature. Now would probably be a good time to pick this up too, as the sequel comes out on the 26th.