Note: mostly first impressions.
Aliens invaded and 19 years later the entire human population is down to "about 12 people" left. You play as Black☆Rock Shooter, a newly awakened weapon/teenage girl who is humanity's last hope to drive the invaders off the planet. She doesn't have much experience with the whole "talking to people" thing, causing the occasional minor conflict with the remaining humans. There's also something involving a set of bosses, but I think saying anything more specific about that would count as spoilers.
At certain points you have a 2 option dialogue choice, but I've yet to see one that would seem to make any sort of difference story-wise.
Overall, a general "amnesiac savior" story set in a post-apocalyptic world. Has nice aesthetics though.
Not sure about total length as I have not finished it yet. Missions can be replayed and there are a number of challenges (achievement-like things that unlock stuff) per stage with each stage being comprised of several replayable missions, but so far the only challenges I've seen are of the "defeat x of enemy y" variety. Again, I'm still not too far into it, so there are likely other, more rewarding challenge types that might require going back through a level.
Gameplay: I like it, but I think it would be easy to hate it. Sort of combines the repetiveness of traditional turn based RPG's with a somewhat annoying aiming system. The aiming system allows you to move your reticle off of one enemy and onto another at any time, which is good for when only a couple shots of your barrage are needed to kill something, but is annoying when a battle starts and it's not on an enemy and has to be manually moved to lock-on to one (aiming locks on to targets if the reticle is over an enemy and isn't manually moved). A very minor annoyance, as there is a lot of aim-assist when you take your thumb off the analogue stick/d-pad, but having to do that at the start of every fight and whenever you defeat an enemy can start to get annoying over time.
I have no difficulty aiming at enemies whatsoever, I just don't like that I have to do it at all.
Apart from that, lots of standard RPG stuff. Walk into an enemy on the field to trigger a battle with more enemies than were visible when you walked into it. Defeating enemies earns exp. There's items. There's skills. Level ups. Stats. Specifically, stats that automatically increase as you level, so no min/maxing is involved and your BRS will not be different than my BRS. A few hidden things here and there. Only thing that sets it apart is that the battles happen in real time. Sort of reminds me of the upcoming Time and Eternity, but with more than one enemy to attack at a time and having to manually select which enemy to attack.
-The overall atmosphere is quite nice. Setting is very reminiscent of the 3rd Birthday, but gameplay is more RPG-like and there's a constant group of several NPC's talking with you and eachother as you go, giving more of a feeling of camaraderie surviving amongst the destruction.
-Real time RPG combat
-Includes a gallery containing unlockable images, songs, and movies
-Having enemies attack you at different rates keeps you on your toes and helps to keep the repetitive battle from feeling repetitive and boring
-When the game gets difficult, it stays fair (assuming you know to hold defend after a dodge if enemy attack timing is staggered in a way that would cause one to attack immediately after you dodge another)
-Having to move the reticle every fight is likely to get annoying over time (very minor, but ever-present annoyance)
-Overall plot feels generic, even if the specifics are unique
-Double tapping dodge will cause you to jump back to where you were standing, causing you to get hit by the attack you were trying to avoid
I don't like how often I've mentioned the reticle thing (which is +1 now) as words really can't convey just how negligible of an issue it is while also saying it's there. If you are in the mood for a more engaging yet still simple RPG for your portable, BRS does the trick.
If it's plot you're looking for, BRS might not be for you. It is an enjoyable plot, but it's more like an action movie than an epic. On a complexity scale from Mario to Bioshock, it would rate just above Ninja Blade. On a quality scale, the plot ranks about the same as Diehard. There are better plots to be had for $20 (I think Psychonauts is $10), but if you already own those, BRS isn't bad.
4/5 stars. At it's core it's a 3 star game, but the great aesthetics make me want to bump it up a notch. It's a nice world to experience and is presented in an enjoyable way.
Perhaps 7/10 donuts, with 5 being average.