The gameplay is familiar because it is most definitely an action RPG, perhaps more so than other action RPGs - you have the standard RPG collect, trade and equip fantasy items and then the more unusual action elements - dodging, rolling, blasting away with hugely over-the-top spells and combo-infused melee attacks. It's closer to an action third person shooter such as Shadowgrounds than a RPG, ditching all that boring (and often confusing) maths to get down and dirty with abilities firmly placed on your skill, not your in-game avatar's. This shooter-like feel is demonstrated as soon as you begin the game, as a simple right-click "shoots" a small purple ball of magical energy in the direction your hero is facing - controlled by the mouse. Using the mouse grants quick, smooth movement but takes a bit of getting use to, even when using the so called 'novice' control mode; in fact, all the three possible control modes are a bit confusing and not really explained as well as they could be. For example, novice mode moves your character in relation to the screen - moving right moves your player towards the bottom of the screen sometimes. In my opinion it is best to stick with the third option - a standard chase-cam (a camera that hovers just above head-height and follows behind you, pointing in the direction you are facing) as used in World of Warcraft and Requital, but despite problems it's still nice that you are given a choice of three ways to control your character, and that you can simply switch between them with the V key if you do get in a muddle.
Everything you'd expect is there: physical attacks, ranged magic, skill trees, summoning, stat-building, equipment, hotkeys and shortcuts for abilities (as well as unique "combo" input for each and every skill), and some useful dodging skills. Your character can do small jumps in any direction, or double-tap in a direction to do a long-distance roll. Being a mage, the only weapon with which to fight is a staff. But it's amazing what all these mages can do with a staff (think of the "battle mage" class from Bethesda's "Elder Scroll" series). Veteran gamers can efficiently build this mage to fight better with physical or magic attacks (ClockStone called these "blood magic" and "soul magic" growth paths). However, even a novice can come up with unique combinations. For example, a fairly reliable "freeze" spell can stun an enemy for a few seconds, during which the player is free to throw down strong magic, or just bash away with the staff.
With all of that said, there are also puzzles. There could have been a bit more puzzle work and a little less keyboard-mashing mayhem, but generally, for a 20 hour RPG, the puzzles helped to balance the action. Some of the better puzzles included a "beam of light reflecting off of mirrors" area, a "walk on the right tiles to proceed" area, and an "input the proper runic characters at different places in the room" area. If you're not a good puzzle-solver, beware. Regardless of the difficulty level set, the puzzles do not change, and some of them require a bit of thought. Above all else, they require your utmost attention during key dialogue, and a rummaging through your inventory at quest items with explanations of the obstacle at hand may help as well.