I played ES now four times (since Saturday, when I bought it). And what am I supposed to say?
I) Game content
I really like what I see and what I hold in my hands. The cards, the printing, the quality of the dice, the tokens, everything seems to have quite a decent quality to it - from the way they look and feel. The place you need to play the game I underestimated a lot the first time I played the game. With always six+ locations open, with the different card-stacks and token-piles, with some place to roll the many dice, you really need some room for the game to play. Maybe not as much as with AH or MoM, but still a lot more then with Yatzee, which seems to be a common misunderstanding with critics of ES (more about that later).
2) My first four game-sessions
a) My first game I played with Kate Winthrop against Yog-Sothoth. I lost this game because especially I had a lot of bad luck (several adventures I tried three or four times before I successfully passed them). From checking the rules and the FAQs afterwards I understood that I did a couple of things very wrong. The end of the game was pretty "close"; with having stuck to the rules more thoroughly I would have lost more clearly. So my misunderstand with the rules was more in favor of me ...
b) During the second game I again used Kate Winthrop against Azathoth. Now, with a better understanding of the rules, consideration of the FAQs and again some very bad luck with some adventures (three to four attempts to pass a few adventures) Kate was devoured, and Sister Mary was her successor. But she was not able to prevent Azathoth from appearing ... So sad. But this time the end of the game was slightly more open ...
c) The third game was weird. In this order I challenged Cthulhu himself: Kate Winthrop, Amanda Sharp, Dexter Drake and finally Harvey Walters. Yes - four characters in a single solo-game, one after another. But I did something horribly wrong regarding the rules of the game: Any time I failed a task, terror struck, and I let all the terror-effects in the game take place; and through the better part of this game-session I had four to five adventures open with terror-effects. So I let my characters suffer a lot more sanity- and health losses, often loose the terror-dices or even loose an adventure before it got really started. And besides this it really did not matter that I forgot to apply the effect of Cthulhu itself on the sanity- and health-scores of the investigators.
I lost this game-session far from close. And even realizing my fail at applying the rules properly I concluded: Why on Earth keep people commenting this game as being flawed by being too easily won?
4) And then the fourth game happened. Sister Mary challenged Yig. With the excpetion of one adventure, Sister Mary passed all adventures on her first attempt - sometimes beating all odds. Pretty soon a mythos card showed up and had the lingering effect that with the next midnight Yig would earn two doom-tokens thus awaken him; but Sister Mary already had 28 points in her trophies and already eight elder signs arranged against Yig (and that although she had lost two elder signs due to defeating two cultists over the span of the game). So the following two turns Sister Mary spent her time in the souvenirs shop and bought the final two elder signs ... My first Victory against the game AI ... And this game really was soooo easy ... Checking the rules afterwards I was not aware of doin' things wrong this time. Yeehaww!
3) Some first impression conclusions
a) Elder Sign is not an easy game. It can be easy, if you are very lucky with your dicing; but you have no real influence on what you roll with your dice, do you? And that is why it may be pretty hard to say that ES is a somewhat easy game. I only played it four times now, I only won once, and that with an exceptionally good result. Anyway: It is not the right time for me to consider ES an easy, a medium challenging, or even a hard game to play, because I played it only four times yet. But these first sessions don't let me think of ES being an easy game - although I did some things wrong in the first games.
b) The dicing is pretty hard to grab, because it is "so different":
You roll your pool of dice: =>
aa) If your roll shows enough symbols you need for a single task, you may solve the task and re-roll all remaining dice for another task (without using any die for focussing!, which is pretty important I guess);
bb) but if your dice don't allow you to pass a task or you decide against solving a task, you failed: =>
aaa) apply the terror effect of your current adventure and mythos-card;
bbb) loose one die;
ccc) maybe focus one die (only once per roll; and during your turn per investigator only one die on the same location!);
ddd) re-roll the remaining dice; if there are none, you failed the adventure ...
This may be extended by certain spells, items and clue-tokens.
( Did I get that right in the end? This is, what I did not like about the rulebook that FFG did not deal with the focus-rules in the same place as "failed tasks" are described).
c) There are many different things to think of during your game play. Characters with one low stat have to be used very carefully in certain situations; some adventures cost you two points of health or something, which may be very challenging, if you also play against Cthulhu himself. Then you should thoroughly consider what items to use when and how to (re)gain items and especially clue tokens making your life a little easier (in theory at least). Any time a monster shows up, where do you place it, what other circumstances should you account for, etc.? Any time you fail a task, you loose a die; and your focus and maybe your spells only help you very limited to save up certain die-results, which involves a lot of planning through many adventures. And then you should also keep in mind: many adventures need you to apply at least four, often five dice to successfully apply to tasks. Also you realize that by your investigator approaching certain adventures you heavily influence the appearance of monsters and elder signs a lot. So, there are so many thinks to think of. And that is, why ...
... ES is by no means even comparable with Yatzee or similar games. This is something I read so often. And I need to disagree: ES is not Yatzee. Period.
4) ABC: Absolutely Beginner's Conclusion
So all in all I like this game and the options you have within this game. Although your success depends hard on your luck with your dice, you also have many different strategic elements within this game as well. I like the mixture of these various elements.
All the best!