There are few MMORPGs that have flavors truly their own. Most are either brutally too much MMORPG, or have a story-line that isn't quite enough to keep a casual player logging in every day. Out of all the MMOs I've played in my life, Mabinogi is one of the few that strays from the endless cycle of drab, try-hard games that exist in the gaming world.
It's not as if Mabinogi brings a whole lot of new things to the table; it's still level based, the story still doesn't compare to that of mostly anything outside of MMORPGS, and grinding is still required after the first 15 or so levels. However, It does have something that other games lack; Mabinogi has an original, incomparable, rustic, otherworldly feel to it. The way the game is set up, the way it has an open world that is actually entertaining to travel through, the system used for dungeons, is something that gives it a unique feel that not even its sequel Vindictus can touch.
There are several things that separate Mabinogi from other games; to start, it uses a dungeon crawling system with missions and end bosses. chambers are spawned randomly, and players need to find keys to continue through until the boss, which is consistently large, fun to fight, and even relaxing to grind. Mabinogi also uses a special color system for its equipment and weapons. At set periods of time, all shop weapons and armor change colors, from rust colored swords to greenish tinted, and so on. Players can either wait for the colors they want, or can buy dye from the cash shop and change the colors themselves by playing a dying mini-game of sorts. Though this may not sound like much, it adds something most RPGs lack. there is also even a bard system in which players can use a range of instruments and music scrolls to compose music and play it to others. If one were to look it up online, they would find a wide range of songs from games and otherwise with the codes for composing them.
Another priceless and memorable feature are the pets. Mabinogi, over the years, has gained many, many different pets, consisting of mounts, walking pets, and even storage pets. This isn't unheard of, of course, there aren't many MMORPGs that don't have pets. But something about travelling through the grasslands and deserts of Mabinogi mounted on an ostrich and seeing your friend flying overhead with a giant pelican is something that I remember fondly. They do have time limits, varying in minutes of how long you can keep them out a day, and they are exclusively cash shop items, but something about them makes the game-play even more memorable. They can even fight with you; pets have completely customizeable AIs, can heal you and cast spells, and when they die, you actually truly care!
Not everything about Mabinogi is perfect; any game that has a cash shop is a downer. It can be frustrating during the times when you aren't able to complete a main mission due to being under-leveled, and grinding in any game is tedious and contains no real entertainment for the player. However, Mabinogi is shockingly immersive; the feel of the environment, the fighting system, the pets and music, all add a feel that is both relaxing, exciting and keeps players coming back. Whether it's to take down a massive spider in a dungeon, to fly high on a tiger with wings, or simply to relax in the fields with friends and play Zelda and Final Fantasy songs on lutes and flutes, Mabinogi is an incomparable experience different from the norm.