It's a strange game. It's obviously a JRPG in the traditional JRPG mold both mechanically and narratively. It tries to do a couple things differently, but the differences are so insignificant that they may as well not have existed at all.
The rendering style is somewhat unfortunate, as well. They took some sort of sub-par Akira Toriyama character designs and made them into a plasticky 3-D that only serves to make them even more generic-looking. While in hi-def, it has a distinctive, clean look, the characters just aren't as memorable or interesting-looking as the (still generic) characters from a cel-shaded game like Dragon Quest VIII (also Toriyama-designed characters).
One bit where the game does something really nice is that it has a very unusual depth-of-field effect. Combined with the relatively spare, clean aesthetic design, the game definitely has a unique look to it - the problem is that it's a really unique-looking blandness that still feels boring. It's nice that it's a contrast to Final Fantasy's excessive business, but still not all that appealing on its own.
The big problem for me, though, is that it suffers from one frustrating design failure - you can only save at predetermined save points. This is totally ridiculous, because there are only two reasons to have predetermined save points:
- You don't have enough memory to save the game's current state in a complete enough fashion - this is obviously untrue, as many other 360 games allow you to save anywhere, and honestly, Blue Dragon doesn't even save that much info.
- You want to create a specific risk-reward balance - by having save points spread apart, you create an escalating tension the further the player is from a safe haven.
Why Blue Dragon doesn't allow this is completely beyond me. It's technically within their grasp. At this point, it's almost purely a design failing. Is there something I'm missing? I just can't see any reason to ever have a save structure like this, when the temporary save & quit solution has existed for years and years. Lunacy.