I'll admit upfront that I was a big fan of both Dark Cloud 2 and Dragon Quest VIII, so I had some high expectations going into the demo of Rogue Galaxy, the company's latest effort. Thankfully, I was not at all disappointed.
The graphics and artwork easily lived up to the standards set by the last two games Level 5 did. The cel-shading is amazing, and Rogue Galaxy is a gorgeous game all around. The environments are lush and lively. Prior to the game's release, the president of Level 5 talked a lot about having a game with no load times, and they certainly seemed to achieve this goal if the demo was any indication. It played seamlessly.
The battle system was extremely fun, fast-paced, and had some neat original elements. One cool feature was how every now and then the two allied characters would ask for suggestions about what to do. By pressing a different button at that point, the characters will perform special attacks. The playable character can also do crazy stuff like pick up some enemies and throw them. And for additional challenge, every now and then the game presented me with unique "mission objectives" prior to fighting enemies; completing the objective, such as beating all the enemies with just one character under a specified time limit, would net a bonus.
With a fantastic battle system, gorgeous graphics, and excellent character design, it will be interesting to see if the other pieces necessary for a great game fall into place. Even so, the demo itself was great.