Loosely based on the same Greek myth that inspired the 1963 movie Jason and the Argonauts, Rise of the Argonauts is an action-oriented role-playing game in which you assume the role of King Jason of Iolcus and go in search of the legendary Golden Fleece. All manner of monsters stand between you and your prize, and doing battle with them is a lot of fun. The same can't be said for all of the time you have to spend wandering around and talking to other characters, unfortunately, and the wildly inconsistent frame rate makes even the stop-motion special effects in the aforementioned movie look silky smooth by comparison.
Tragically, you spend more time conversing than you do in combat.
Rise of the Argonauts gets off to a shaky start. The assassination of Jason's bride on their wedding day in the intro sequence ensure that the story is instantly compelling, but poor voice acting, awkward camera angles, questionable animation (Jason negotiating stairs is a must-see for all the wrong reasons), and numerous visual quirks waste no time in conspiring against it. Furthermore, there's not much combat early on, so much of your time is spent trying to navigate Jason's labyrinthine palace and conversing with guards who, save for their different-colored uniforms, all look identical. Iolcus, like the handful of other locations you'll visit after acquiring the Argo, affords very few opportunities for exploration, but it still manages to be confusing enough in its design that you need to refer to the crudely drawn map to locate mission objectives in a timely fashion.
The high point of Rise of the Argonauts is undoubtedly the combat; Jason is skilled in the use of swords, spears, and maces, and he carries one of each as well as a shield at all times. The controls are uncomplicated and responsive, and it's good that they're the same no matter which weapon you're wielding, because you're encouraged to switch between them on the fly. None of the enemies are particularly intelligent, but they're varied enough that you need to employ different weapons and strategies to get the better of them. Your spear can be used to keep overly aggressive enemies at a distance, while your mace is a good choice for destroying the shields of enemies attempting to hide behind them, for example. Putting your own indestructible shield to good use is crucial early on, but as you progress you become much more powerful and can spend more time on the offensive.
Interestingly, you need to go into the options menu if you want any kind of heads-up display for your health during combat. By default, you're supposed to look for visual clues such as blood on the clothing of Jason and his allies to know when they're in trouble, but the combat is so fast-paced that this isn't always possible. Adding the HUD makes it much easier to know when Jason's health is low, though it's not always important because, in keeping with his mythological status, he's a tough guy to keep down. When your health drops to zero you don't die; rather, you enter a "state of grace" in which the screen blurs and you have 10 seconds or so to avoid taking any more damage before you regenerate around half of your health. You'll die if you sustain a single hit during that time, but there are very few enemies who can keep up as you frantically run and roll around.
Aspects are a great way to customize Jason's abilities according to your play style.