This is quite an old game by the time of this writing but right off the bat, let's just say it could have been much better. The game showed lots of great promise ranging from ideas, fighting system, story elements and the world they created (with some winks to the original too). But somewhere in all that, Secret Level just couldn't pull off the execution properly. What is there does unfortunately feel very unpolished in terms of controls, gameplay and visuals (the pre-rendered stuff still looks good). One good example, the best and most fun boss fight is the last one. Sorry, but all the boss fights should have been fun and enagaging but they were all just very average. The beast riding part could have been a little better but it does add to the game.
The actual key on-foot combat is okay and requires good timing for evasions/parries leading to counter attacks/finishers. Certain attacks can only be parried and certain attacks can only to avoided with evasion (colour coded). Doing one or the other at the wrong time will leave you to take a hit. At the right time, you can utilise finishers or stronger attacks on the enemy. The timing is a little strict (you can't just hold the buttons(s) down) so there is a slight challenge there.
I do have to say that I enjoyed the game enough to finish it, but it left a lot wanting. The story was setting up for a pretty interesting sequel too (the original game maybe?? Or a new original story?), but that will be a tale that will never be told. It's not a bad game, but it needs a lot to make it better. 2 1/2 stars feels low but 3 also feels a bit high. 2 and 3/4??