Looking for a multimillion dollar 3D big-budget extravaganza from a major publisher? Boy, have you come to the wrong place. A lot of the graphics in Cute Knight are scans of line sketches, and most of the rest are anime-inspired Illustrator drawings. The gameplay itself is pretty simple, too--you choose a place for your character to go and some actions for her to perform, and your stats are updated as a result.
And yet somehow you find yourself drawn into her story--and want to drive it to something like a happy ending. In other words, Cute Knight quickly creates a sense of emotional engagement that's lacking in far more expensively-developed and commercial titles.
The backstory: You're an orphan girl, you've just turned 18, and the orphanage is turning you out to find your own destiny. Before you turn 21, you must find it--although there are many routes you can follow. You can learn magic, become a fighter, cultivate excellence in cooking or housework. You can find romance, or riches, or simply learn to make your own independent way in the world. There are, in fact, more than 50 possible endings, which means there's a lot of replay value here--you can always play again, and try for a different one.
If your idea of an RPG is Oblivion, you won't find that experience here. During most of the game, you click on a little line drawing of the town where you live to go to a new location, and interact with a static illustration of someone there. Occasionally, you may go into the "dungeon," but it's a series of 2D illustrations of rooms and corridors, with no real transition between... just a cut to your new view down the corridor, or whatnot.
But if your understanding of game play is mediated only through the notion that minutely rendered 3D art is hot, you probably should be picking up some highly-hyped title from a major publisher at Wal-Mart anyway. Despite Cute Knight's somewhat retro graphic style, it's a challenging game--one, fundamentally, of resource management. You must choose what skills to cultivate, find a way to make money, and not allow yourself to get too tired (which reduces your hit points, should you get into combat). And while the game is fairly forgiving, it's certainly possible to fail, and you do need to adopt some kind of strategy to succeed.
Kishi Kawaii may doubtless appeal most strongly to anime fans, and those who want an intense combat experience out of their RPGs will not find it here. But there is virtue to be found--an innovative approach to the single-player RPG, and in a style of play that rewards long-term conscious choices rather than short term decisions like what weapon to use now.