I absolutely adore Ar Tonelico 2 so Qoga took some getting used to. The story is much less tight and the characters appear rather generic at first; both take quite some time to get interesting but are enjoyable at the end. While the backgrounds graphics and level design are great, the simplistic 3D for character and enemy models doesn't fit in a 2011 game, putting in more effort or just using sprites would've been a better idea. And I'm not really a fan of the character design either. The music is sublime as usual but a bit of a mixed bag, there are more styles as before so chances are higher to stumble upon something you are not going to like, especially the techno tracks weren't for me. The usual tongue-in-cheek fanservice of the series is a bit too much this time around but something I got used to eventually. The worst offender is the battle system. The games never had really interesting combat but this time around they just removed too much complexity and it quickly turns into a tedious button masher you get sick of pretty fast. There are only a few points in the game where you are forced to go through long stretches of combat but those I really loathed.
All in all I cannot shake the impression they were imitating the wrong game. Everything reminds me of the first Ar Tonelico, too little of the second one. While that in itself isn't a bad thing, it feels like a step back overall. Something I really enjoyed in it's own right after getting over the initial disappointment of not playing a second masterpiece but a disappointment nonetheless.