Just started playing this today, and I'm really into it. I love the gameplay changes, the changes to the level progression, the ramped-up difficulty, and the improved artwork and character design. Really impressed so far...I just got up to the prison boss, and was shocked that he actually whipped my ass in, like, three hits. I'm actually going to have to learn a boss pattern in a Metroidvania game? omg!
Anyway, great game. I hope it continues to be so as as I progress further into it.