So I've played this a few hours and I must say that while I considered it a risk when I got it, I'm incredibly satisfied with the experience so far. I was mostly concerned because when I first got Hatsworth, I didn't enjoy it at all. It just didn't click for me. Recently I picked Hatsworth back up and had much more fun with it, but seeing the similarities between these two games made me a bit wary.
I'm happy to say that this game works really well for me. I think the genre combination is a better match. The level design seems to be improved and the enemies seem to be more varied already as well. I also simply like the theme much better. It's pretty cute-sy, but that adds to the charm.
You can't help but see the similarities to Hatsworth. For instance, instead of a knight with a big sword that makes a big vertical slash, you get a lizard man with a big mace. Many of the same abilities that Henry had are used by Ellie, though I'll admit that she's got many more tricks up her sleeve than Henry already. The level design and enemies encourage a diverse usage of skills, too; I found myself using the same tricks in Hatsworth, not so here. You also get multipliers for hitting enemies in combos (I really don't mind this similarity at all, though).
In fact, I still get a kick out of pounding enemies with huge combos, watching them spin around helplessly. Or going for the low hit, tripping them off of a high ledge and watching them fall down to a lower level.
The monster raising element is great and Chomp is very adorable, or was. Now that Chomp has grown up a bit on me, he(she?)s not as cute, but rather a bit scary. I actually wish that Ellie's skill set was treated similarly and that she could allocate experience to skill trees and learn new tricks that way. Just finding new skills as you explore areas seems a bit robotic to me and I'd like to control how she progresses, even if it means having to grind in order to get to new areas.
The boss battles I've played were pretty awesome and challenging. Those that are worried about the difficulty should probably be left at ease. I found the first kid king fairly challenging and while the levels are pretty easy early on, there have been a couple times where I relaxed a little bit or underestimated enemies and ended up dying for it. I thought back-tracking would bug me, but it doesn't. That probably has to do with having a diverse group of enemies and environments to traverse through. It also has to do with wanting to grind Chomp and gain new abilities for my somewhat-now-intimidating pet.
I'll update with more impressions as I progress further, but right now, this is a solid title that just happens to come around at an unfortunate time.