Oh boy, Festivus, where to begin? First off, it's LONG. I'm talking full length rpg here too, which is VERY impressive for a contest game, notwithstanding an OHR game. I must have sunk at least 10, 11 hours into this, and I'm pretty sure I missed a lot near the end too. It's that expansive, and you WILL be backtracking a bunch. This reminds me of my early gaming days back in the late 80's where I'd draw out the maps for the various game dungeons I'd explore, and found myself scrambling for graph paper once again to take notes.
The spells/ability system is very similar to FF9's, in that your abilities are tied to the equipment you're currently lugging around. The thing about this is, the best spells for a given situation may be on a sub-par set of equipment, and I found myself carrying around older armor just to swap on a curative spell for when I needed it. It might have been interesting to see a learning system of some sort where learned abilities could be made permanent.
The game itself has a gentle learning curve, but I'd caution new players against rushing in too fast without adequate preparation. As a must, you'll want to have a minimum of $50 on hand at all times, for when you'll inevitably return to the INN to restore your spell levels. And you -WILL- be making multiple trips from the lobby and each floor, advancing until your spell charges are nearly depleted, and then either dashing back to the entrance/elevator, or using the relatively inexpensive escape items. But mostly, it'll be to pawn off the many MANY different types of craftables for spare cash before your inventory gets full.
The game's main puzzles consist of the different ways the player's movement is obstructed by tiles, and secret passages. Early on, most secret passages can be crossed from either side, however as the game progresses more and more of these passages become one-way trips and deny any sort of backtracking in case the player becomes lost. I would have liked to see an ability or upgrade of some sort that allowed the player to jump across the one-way passages. Or better still, a way to see them while walking down hallways without having to turn to face the wall at nearly every step.
You'll be referring the the game's built in mini map function quite often, and though no level/floor is more than 24 tiles across at a side, your mini map will show only a quarter of the whole map at a time. I would have also liked some in-game notification of the boss doors, perhaps a different color, because many times I was confronted with the boss with no warning at all of whether I needed to heal up, and then have my butt handed to me by a rather festive looking opponent. That's not to say that the experience is a slog. The game's fair, never punishes the player too harshly, and is quite generous with player death - you just return back to the lobby.
Overall, the game is a wonderfully fun experience, though it's a bit on the challenging side. My definite pick for best OHRRPGCE game so far this year.
Every day's a sale. Every sale a win.