I got my hands on this and, having liked the admittedly mediocre but fun GS, I gave it a shot.
The game opens up the only way it could if it were to keep the spirit of its predecessor: EXPOSITION. LONG, TEDIOUS, UNSKIPABLE EXPOSITION. Words are spoken, emoticons are used, heads are nodded in lieu of more expressive gestures and all the WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS you may so (un)fondly remember from the original.
Thankfully, the actual stuff they talk about is fairly more interesting than before. In a move I appreciate very much, the game directly addresses the Elephant in the Living Room that Lost Age kept trying to ignore: unleashing alchemy might have been the only way to save the world but it created a massive clusterfuck of natural disasters and tectonic shifts that gave the whole planet a facelift and screwed the livelihood of basically everyone. It’s mentioned that Isaac and the rest are seen somewhat controversially, sometimes as heroes and sometimes as “Those assholes who made a volcano grow on my backyard”, so to speak.
You control Matthew, Isaac’s xeroxed and obligatorily-mute offspring, together with Tyrel (Garet’s) and Karis, Ivan’s daughter, the only one of the three that isn’t a copypaste of their parent. Isaac speaks now, and grew a cool beard, while Garet grew a Mexican pornstar ‘stache and acts the cautious concerned parent, which is pretty damn weird.
Gameplay-wise, I’ve only gone through the tutorial dungeon so far but… it’s Golden Sun. It plays exactly as I remember in every sense, only now in 3D and with the ability to shoot Psynergy diagonally. One tiny detail is that the YES/NO answers to things you are asked were replaced by a Positive/Enthusiastic/Bothered/Angry set of answers, which are likely every bit as irrelevant as before, but at least lets you give Mathew some more personality.
One thing I did find funny was seeing Garet and Isaac interacting for once, something you don’t even see in TLA. It makes me sad Isaac was mute in his own game, because here he’s kind of a tricky wiseass who enjoys keeping things to himself just to mess with others, which makes for some pretty funny interaction.
Like I said, I can’t say much about the story yet, other than it seems to involve… aliens? I dunno, there’s a flying futuristic machine in the intro. Anemos, I guess.