The graphics have a drab, ugly, grainy finish about them, and the whole presentation doesn't even come close to the level of quality seen in Sigma Star Saga and Mario & Luigi. Back to Stone also takes place in an isometric world. I've been hesitant to play isometric games ever since Banjo Kazooie, since it was so hard to gauge where ledges were in that game. Fortunately, Back to Stone doesn't suffer the same fate. Everything is very readable, and you'll never get confused as to what is what. You just won't be overly impressed by anything you see.
When it comes to the core of the game, if you are at all familiar with the old adage "Sticks and stones may break my bones..." then you should know what to expect. Back to Stone is little on dialogue and big on thrusting you into the action, even from the start. This is an action/adventure game that focuses very heavily on your character and what he can do. The hero is the leftovers of some bizarre experiment, an experiment which granted him the ability to turn monsters into stone. With this power, when you defeat a monster, it becomes a rock. And before the rock crumbles, you can use it to reach higher ledges, slam it into other enemies, or slide it onto a switch. Several stone-based puzzles abound, and most of it is pretty clever and entertaining. It's just a little disappointing the rock idea wasn't taken a step further to allow you to pick up, carry, and throw stones or even to use them in more elaborate situations like building a bridge across a lake or playing free games for girls.
Another offset of the experiment has turned this hero into a demon hybrid. If his health reaches a certain point, he will transform into his own monster. However, there isn't any significant difference between being human and being demon. They play the same. Only seldom are you required to be a human to talk to another human. But since you have demon roots, you can call on a powerful spell to help wipe out bigger enemies. Filling this magic meter requires collecting gems. Gems aren't just lying around willy-nilly, though. They only appear when you've placed a stone on a green switch. It sounds like it would be a hassle to fill your meter, then, but it actually only takes a couple gems to do so, and having to solve mini-puzzles to get it is more rewarding than just fighting monsters and hoping one of them drops something useful.
Back to Stone sticks to the isometric view rather rigidly, though. Pushing up on the D-pad actually moves you up and to the right. Pushing right moves you down and right. It's disorienting and very difficult to get used to. Why they couldn't just map the movement to the buttons directly, I don't know. It isn't like they have eliminated the option to move straight up or down, either, because all you have to do is hold two buttons to get this result. It doesn't make any sense.