This game doesn't have an instant emotional hook the way that, say, Majora's Mask does but I grew to love the characters and care for the story a little more towards the end. I mentioned that title deliberately - on release it seemed that every review compared this game to Zelda so it's best to get that out of the way. It does owe a debt to Zelda but then doesn't every action RPG? It's like mentioning Mario when reviewing a platformer; utterly facile.
This game adds considerably to the action RPG experience offered by any Zelda game I've played with improved gameplay mechanics - actual platforming stages (not an auto-jump in sight!) and more fully developed action sequences that wouldn't be completely out of place in a Platinum title. I love those two genres so that might go some way to explaining why I enjoyed this so much. The other improvement it makes over Zelda is the ability to fully upgrade and customise your character - with weapons, abilities and attributes.
In the end the only thing that impeded my enjoyment were regular freezes (I played the Wii U version, I'm guessing THQ would have patched this if they hadn't gone bust) and some very dodgy camera angles which meant sometimes not being able to see the enemy in an action sequence.
Despite not being entirely sensical or fulfilling (whenever was a computer game either of those things?) the story is satisfactory and although an obvious homage is paid to Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films in terms of setting and scope the voice acting is darkly humorous. Death, in particular, frequently uttered the sardonic comments I had just hurled mockingly at the computer game. That made me like him a lot more!
Once completed, the game offers you a chance to play again in "New Game+" mode, with extra new items and increased difficulty. Right now, the only thing stopping me diving straight into that is my backlog. I know I will get to it though and I sincerely hope that, however unlikely it may be, somebody buys the IP and develops the franchise in a way that builds on this legacy (a Wii U port of the first title would be nice too!).