Of course, there has to be a story in an RPG. You play as Marona, a young girl struggling to make money on her own. She works as a Chroma, which is a profession that's not explicitly explained, but basically she goes around doing the dirty work of clearing monsters and whatever else her client may ask. She differs from most in that she can see and interact with phantoms. She is always accompanied by Ash, a phantom who had worked with Marona's parents when he was alive.
Marona is na´ve, and endlessly optimistic. Ash patiently attempts to guide her and get her to stand up for herself. For the most part, the story plods along trying to be heartwarming at every turn. Just about the harshest thing that Ash says to Marona is that "monsters don't give a damn about how you feel." He immediately afterward spends a good paragraph of dialogue and thought trying to make amends for it. The story focuses so much on Marona and Ash that it seems to skip over fleshing out the world around them. For example, why does Marona have to pay her phantoms money? It wouldn't seem like they'd have much use for it.
As for the actual game, Phantom Brave: We Meet Again wouldn't be a true strategy RPG without a steep learning curve, and it doesn't fail here. In the end, you're doing all the basics like upgrading equipment and leveling up, but you're doing them a little differently here.
To start, your fighting allies are all phantoms. Marona must summon them to the physical world before they can fight for her. To do this, she must "confine" them to a physical object on the battlefield. This could be everything from a flowerpot to a fish. Different objects confer different stat bonuses or detriments, so it's a matter of finding the best object for the character you want to summon.
Once you're in battle, there are a number of different crazy things that can happen. Anything can be used as a weapon, even bodies of friends and foes. Anyone can be thrown out of the battlefield, removing them from battle, making the edges of the field a dangerous place to be at times. One of the most heinous things some enemies will do is clear the field of all objects that they can, removing material you need in order to summon more phantoms. But there are resourceful things that you can do as well, such as use the weapons of your departed phantoms as vessels to summon more.
There is no armor to worry about, only the weapon that each phantom can carry. Weapons gain mana, which can be used to level the weapon up and also to combine it with another weapon or object. You never really have to upgrade to a new weapon, you can actually absorb the skills and attributes of another weapon into yours. You can also earn new "titles" by beating dungeons. Slap one of these onto an existing weapon to give it instant status boosts of different types.
Still, even with its different gameplay elements, Phantom Brave is still a leveling game. You can't level a character without putting it through battles. You can't improve a weapon without going through battles. At some point, you're going to have to go back and grind. One character with a set of very useful skills and spells can't wipe out the battlefield on their own: you have to train a large team to be ready for anything.