Here's a review but without a lot of game explanation as that's been covered elsewhere.
The components are nice. Pieces are good quality. The illustrations on the counters, player pieces, and character boards are nice. Wooden bits for gold and character ability tracking work well. The individual boards (that make up the overall playing area) are a bit dense with illustrations and have to be looked at carefully to see routes and color coding. Also, you can't tell what's on the two-sided game counters without picking them up and even so the print is pretty small.
The original game rules aren't great (but vastly improved by version 1.2) and so they won't be much of an impediment as they aren't too complex. In fact, it’s a game you could explain to someone in 15 minutes and they’d be up and questing.
Game mechanics are basic and conventional. No card play. No auctions with bidding. No multitudes of game turn choices to ponder. Dice is the determining factor throughout much of the game. Now I don't mind all the dice rolling (and there's LOTS) but if you're having a high rolling day, be forewarned, this game will be punishing. This misfortune can be particularly bad for a player if it occurs often and early because that player will fall behind in the race to build up character abilities or possibly not gain enough gold to buy things at the market.
Theme? Well one is there but I'll be honest and say I'm not into fantasy RPG stuff (strategy, sports and business themes are my main fair) but even so, it's a pretty thin theme as applied to the game mechanics and it wouldn't be hard to replace it with a horror or sci-fi theme.
Game play is fantasy quest style (move/search, complete tasks, battle monsters, complete quests, defeat evil). The game has a very "safe" feel about it so it probably would be good to play with kids because there's not much players can do to each other and therefore no grudges will form. And there's not much downtime between players as you can't do much on an individual turn (move and possibly do battle or go to market). That's it. Not a conundrum of choices like more sophisticated strategy games. And like some others have said, there's almost no player interaction (interaction is: dropping monsters in the paths of others and a marketplace element). So it is a sort of multi-player solitaire as there’s really no benefit in teaming up with anyone as they are all your adversaries in this race to defeat the “Nameless” one. And because of this, there’s a small runaway leader problem as the best you can do is drop a monster in their supposed path (though sometimes they can just go around them). Some form of team play might add player interaction and cut into the runaway leader problem but that would force a change to the overall game structure (though 6 players divided into 2 player teams might be a fun approach). Or if the game had a mechanism (cards?) that allowed players to harm other players when they came in contact with them (instead of just saying “hi” while meeting on the road), that might help lessen the runaway leader problem plus give the game more player interaction. But the downside to any of this is that it might lengthen the game too. And the game is already on the long side. Our 4 player game went about 3 hours and that's long for a light game with few strategic choices.
In the end, it's a just miss for me (between a 5 and a 6 rating). While most everything works as designed, unless you really dig the fantasy theme and like fantasy quest style games, I think its appeal is limited. I guess I just don’t have an inner-Elf…
I think the components are better than nice...they're fantastic.
This game has it all...thick gloriously illustrated cardboard game tiles, wooden bits, glass bits, and even real polished stones for good measure. The compartment that holds all the bits together is great. No little bagies required, and everything stays put. Quality is awesome.