When I had a chance to play A Witch's Tale during RPGamer's Run to the Sun event in July, starting at the beginning of the game didn't afford me much opportunity to see how the game actually played out. I've now completed the first three areas (of what appears to be seven), and I've a better idea of how this game works.
As I mentioned during Run to the Sun, A Witch's Tale has an art style very reminiscent of Tim Burton movies, but this even extends to the music. Most of the tracks have the same sort of haunted house style you'd find in movies like Beetlejuice or The Nightmare Before Christmas. The music is actually surprisingly good, and I've found myself always playing the game with the volume turned up simply because it adds to the charm.
One thing I have been a bit disappointed by is the thematic levels. The only level I was able to see during Run to the Sun was the candyland level, which played very well into the game's fairy-tale style. An entire country made of gingerbread ruled by Princess Gretel is a perfect RPG adaptation of a classic Grimm fairy tale. Unfortunately, the next two levels didn't match up to that, providing typical RPG staples: an ice level and a Japanese flower garden level.
Luckily, the levels are actually quite enjoyable. Each one is designed like a gigantic puzzle. In order to get into the castle and rescue the princess of each land, you must track down three objects which can be transformed into a key. Getting to these objects requires you to complete several puzzles and mini-dungeons within the world, often leading you back and forth from one side to another. The backtracking can get annoying occasionally, but the levels are fairly small and for the most part the encounter rate is low enough that it shouldn't cause too much of a hassle.
"...this game is probably the easiest RPG I've ever played."
Combat in the game is very simple. You have Liddel, the protagonist, and two dolls in your party. You can find new dolls as the game progresses, each of which has its own capabilities, and at the end of each level, you can find an extremely powerful doll that can't get any stronger, but will make the next area much, much easier. Battles are turn-based, but the turn order is something you can determine yourself by selecting attacks in a particular order for each of your characters. Your characters will always attack first, followed by the enemy. Enemies also have weaknesses and resistances to various elements, so figuring these out through trial and error as well as common sense (for example, most plant monsters are weak to fire) can make them go by much faster. Liddel is the only character really capable of properly exploiting weaknesses, as she's the only character with access to every elemental spell.
Since Liddel is the only party member that's really alive, she's also the only character with MP. The dolls are animated with her magic, so her mana pool is shared by all characters. This works fine, as the MP pool quickly becomes enormous, and spell costs never seem to increase. They're the same now as they were when the game started, which, as you would expect, has made the game progressively easier. Even upgraded versions of spells cost the same as their weaker versions. Liddel's level two spells cost the same as her level one spells did, and the ultimate level spells carried by the special Princess dolls gained at the end of each level cost the same as well.
The game is extraordinarily easy. I haven't died once so far or even come remotely close to dying. In fact, I've rarely even had to heal, as most of the time I level up for a free HP/MP restore before I even get low enough to consider it. Even the boss fights don't require me to heal, which is astonishing. Make no mistake, this game is probably the easiest RPG I've ever played. Easier than Rhapsody even, and that's saying a lot. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is up to you to decide.
So far A Witch's Tale has been a fairly enjoyable RPG, mostly for its style and its puzzles. It's not going to be anybody's game of the year, but it's still a cute and quirky RPG experience that should at least keep a smile on your face.