What a waste of gorgeous art assets.
The central idea--hinging the gameplay on this relationship--is really cool. But it didn't work in so many ways: I didn't care about protecting the character because she had no character; she was just "pretty" in a glowy "we can't do soft focus but glowing is sort of like that" way, and she was incapable of defending herself so you had to.
The gameplay itself seemed pretty flawed. They introduced new concepts to you gradually, but they didn't tutorial them--you had to sit there and click on all the buttons to find out what they did, and there were plenty of inconsistencies to make that hard to do. For example, in the first room where you have to push something, there are three barrels which you can stand on but you can't push. And then there is one crate which is down in a recess which isn't usefully pushable anywhere. There's a place to climb up to but it's too high. The obvious solution is to push a barrel over and stand on it. But you can't push the barrel. Are objects pushable in this game? It doesn't seem like it. But no! Go down and push the crate, and you discover that it was sitting on a pressure plate, and moving it off the plate causes a staircase to rise up out of the floor, giving you access to the thing you couldn't climb into. CAN I HAVE SOME INTENTIONALITY WITH MY GAMEPLAY PLEASE?
Instead of intentionality, you're just drunk walking the game, and of course it's so linear that you're just doing the exact next thing. Oh look, a lever. Who knows what it will do, but I guess I might as well throw it.
And then, of course, you're suppose to be running around protecting Yorda all the time, and you shouldn't leave her alone since she's so helpless, but as you get further and further, you find yourself having to leave her alone for five, ten, fifteen minutes. THANK GOD the shadows only attack her when I happen to be around.
(Well, except for the sequence that made me quit the game, but that seemed like it had to have been a bug or mistriggered sequence or I had left a shadow around ten minutes earlier without realizing it, because she was suddenly under attack when I was nowhere near her. I couldn't even get there in time to see her, period, before the game ended.)
The combat was just pointless frantic button mashing. It was also pointlessly hard, or rather tedious. Had it been easier, it wouldn't have sucked up as much time and the game would have been even shorter, but I still think it would have been ok. (Then again, some people seem to like frantic button mashing--see Diablo.)
Then, deciding not to play all the way through, I asked around and found out what the ending was. And the ending basically makes it "well, why did I bother to play through at all"? (That's not exactly right, but I can't be clearer without spoiling it, and I thought about putting a spoiler behind lj-cut but that would mess up people who don't want a spoiler but want to reply to the above paragraph.)