The best comparison I can find for this style of RPG is like the old Ultima games. The world is yours to explore and there's quests to keep you busy. It isn't hard to just roam around killing creatures looking for new areas to explore, but when roaming wears thin you can always take on a new quest. The quests come from villagers, usually they give you a rough direction to head in and the locations don't appear on the map. This game won't hold your hand; you need to pay attention to where you need to go otherwise you can roam around for awhile getting no closer to finishing your task. Once I even accidentally stumbled across the goal of my quest while I was exploring. There are three different choices in the class you play as, Knight, Archer or Mage. All use different weapons but the way you spend your skill points is completely up to you as you level up. I chose the knight and had fun roaming the countryside stabbing rats and goblins, and given the arrows I came across I preferred being able to use swords instead of having limited use of a bow and having to fall back on using a dagger.
The world is large and there is plenty to explore. Enemies are what will usually block your progress to new areas as they will quickly kill you if you're not levelled up enough. Early on in the game it isn't hard to build up the necessary experience by killing any monsters you come across, and you'll find out quickly when you're over your head when you speedily wind up dead. Thankfully there is no reloading save games like the old days. 9th Dawn is more lenient and brings you back to your cottage with only a small loss of experience points.
Inventory management is the only area where this game shouldn't emulate from older RPGs. Once you select the item you still need to click another button to see stats for the item and it makes comparing armour and weapons longer than it needs to be. There are also a few minor bugs in the game such as signs not showing their text in my game. The developers look like they intend to keep squashing bugs so hopefully they're only temporary issues. Thankfully there aren't any issues that keep you from playing the game.
An interesting method of controlling your character is using a virtual dual joystick setup, one to move and the other one to direct where your weapon is pointing. While it can always be tricky with games using this control scheme as there are no actual joysticks, it works well enough on 9th Dawn.
9th Dawn has the look of the old Ultima games. The visuals aren't anything fancy but they serve the style of the game. The game can be a little dark, and even with the added option to change the gamma settings the game still could do with a bit more light.
9th Dawn is a nostalgic return to the old school RPG games. The developers do a lot with this and have made a great handheld game to explore with a control system that works. There's plenty of hours in this game if you're willing to sink in the time. The world is large and there are no shortages of quests to keep you busy.