I got through all 7. I can put up with all sorts of weird animation for characters/plot, but this was sorely lacking in all departments. I've considered making a different thread for this, but I realise no one will probably read this anyway, so imma just put this rant under a spoiler tag and see if anyone bites:
WHY WAS IT SOO BAAD?
THE number 1 issue with the story in the game was that it had all the pieces of a great story, it just lacked a lot of substance. There were SO many plot formats that they could have taken the time to explore and make good/great here (the scaffolding was already done, they just needed to fill it in with the most basic dialogue/few extra characters, like a children's connect-the-dots puzzle):
Where was Salvation? Where was the Hearthstone references? Where was the Pawn Guild? Where was the Duke and his quests? Where was Quina's story? What about the Quest to enlist the Duke's help to fight the Dragon? What about the BRILLIANT Dark Arisen/Bitterblack Isle plot outline?
Instead of working with these amazing stencils they just rolled with the most basic "Arisen hunt the dragon" plot (at least they had that tbf) and inserted all their own new filler with no intrigue. They had SO MUCH TO WORK WITH and went "nah, we can do it better", then threw it all out and gave us a nothing burger. Think about this: you could watch the first and last episode right after each other and you wouldn't be lost at all with the chain of events.
Same deal with the characters. Again, they didn't need to go so far out of their way to create these new (and woefully lacklustre) characters, they could have just coloured in the ones we already had in the game:
Where was Mercedes? Where was the Duke? Where was that old Arisen dude (Dragonforged), or even his Fool? Where was Quina? Chief Adaro? Ser Maximilian? Selene? Fournival? Even old mate Barnaby from the Pawn Guild had more character than most of these guys.
I'm not saying that they HAD to use them, but they are SO much better than what we got, and they're all already like 50-80% of whole characters, just needing a bit of depth to make them really great.
Actually, I'm also realising as I write this that even the world-building was trash. My brain sort of auto-filled in the locations from the game, but if we take only what the show provided, we have no awareness as to what the world that they inhabit at large is like - we have no idea what stands to be lost by the dragon's eradication, and as a result it's kind of hard to care. There are some large towns like Cassardis and the one with the inn, and also the one that the guards are from, and also some other ones like Aernst (just random name-dropping from the game for the hell of it) and wherever that noble guard's family was from, and they're part of some overarching Dukedom that we assume is under Gran Soren's jurisdiction, but as far as I know that was never even name-dropped. But we have no idea what the relationship between these villages was like, and how it relates to the Dukedom. We have no idea if other large nations/clusters are aware of/care about the Dragon or if the Dragon even threatens them (the game somewhat covered this with the Hearthstone/Julien/Mercedes sub-plot).
They took all of the emotional weight that should have gone into stuff like this and outsourced it to the superficial gore and random nakedness aspects.
So, onto the actual problems with their show, and honestly, my main gripe was a thematic one. Not only did they miss the mark with the plot, characters and world, but they somehow messed up the theme of the game to be this weak, confusing, watered-down version that only superficially resembles the game's. SO let's contrast:
In the game, the coming of the Dragon is a symbol of apocalypse. It is not only a portend of the apocalypse, it's the cause. One of the things the game explores (again, only lightly), that the show actually also does explore, is how the behaviour of people change when the world is collapsing all around them. This is personified by the Salvation cult - a cult welcoming the end brought by the Dragon in the expectation that the world could be reborn. Good people are now capable of evil, and when nothing but fiery death awaits you any day now, you have the choice to either retain your sense of morality, honour and bravery, or else to throw it all to the wind in despair and succumb to your desires.
Something the game does a bit differently though to the show, which I think is far better, is that it presents the Arisen as a beacon of hope. As the Dragon is a portend of the end, so too is the Arisen a portend of hope that it may be stayed. The Arisen's reputation precedes them like wildfire in the game, giving hope to all, and with the title is an understanding that their lives depend on you. It was never about revenge, it was about you carrying the burden and hopes of humanity on your shoulders, and as the ambassador for humanity contending with the Dragon, and of course overcoming.
Something I want to touch on quickly here, was that the ordination of your character to Arisen was marked by the Dragon literally stabbing his claw into your chest, ripping out your heart (hence the scar), and eating it. No idea why they opted to rip the heart out via magic here, but it bothered me because one of the Arisen's titles I thought was quite meaningful was one "touched by the Dragon". It's hard for me to really flesh out why I think it's so impactful, so I'll just leave it at that.
There's an element of destiny in the game: the Arisen is one destined to face the Dragon. All the humans that you meet are aware of this, and of course Grigori himself summons you when you first awake and touch your scar after having your heart removed. However, what's interesting is that the Dragon, of course being a bit deceptive since it is his role, is adamant that your only options are to either take his bargain and sacrifice your beloved, or else die. He stresses that if you seek him out to kill him, you're entering no-man's-land. He stresses that you are not fated to fight him. You are not fated to kill him, though he declares his death is only true end ("Only my death will staunch the flood of destruction"). You only have the opportunity to repel the apocalypse he threatens if you offer up your beloved. Check out this quote from him:
"This is not fate, nor duty's call. This battle is your own, waged of your own free will".
And then this:
"The choice falls not to me, nor to the whims of fate... it is yours alone"
Of course in the game, the purpose of the Dragon was just to find a worthy Seneschal replacement, which makes the ultimate reality within the Dragon's Dogma universe quite bleak (no man is fit to be God, but the game even accounts for that through the Seneschal's dialogue), but that aside, what the Seneschal you meet explains to you is the most significant character attribute to be eligible for the role of Seneschal is will. Something the Dragon was directly stirring up in you. The Dragon sought to make it clear: destiny is not on your side; if you fight me, it will be of your own will that you carry the future of your entire race, and it will be a battle of your will against mine. The Seneschal's design for testing your will at every turn is rigorous: first, you need to have the will to train yourself and hunt the Dragon, then he challenges you again, declaring that it is your own free will to fight him, then when you seek him out, he offers you to stay his destruction in exchange for your beloved - weeding out any Arisen who would be reluctantly fighting out of a sense of duty/destiny to prevent the destruction. Then, after proving your will superior by killing the Dragon, you again have the choice to return and complete your life in peace, making sure that anyone who doesn't have the will to transcend is weeded out, and finally, you enter a dream-scene where you must use your will to detach yourself from your earthly peers in preparation to become Seneschal (with the option to surrender at any time), and then face the Seneschal themselves - on condition that losing condemns you to the destiny of the Dragon, which would be yet another test of will, as this time you are also deciding YOUR future at the existential level. And of course if you become the Dragon, it's your turn to resume the cycle by selecting Arisen (people that you already perceive to have strong wills in the face of the destruction your bring) and seeing if they will take up your challenge, once the Seneschal decides it's time to look for a replacement.
Thematically brilliant imo, and something I didn't fully appreciate until doing the research for this post.
Now, compare it to the show. Ethan is fuelled by revenge and destined to kill the Dragon. Ethan kills the Dragon out of revenge and fulfils his destiny, only SIKE the Dragon was really just choosing his replacement, because now Ethan becomes the Dragon since he killed him in a state of pride. I mean, not only does the show handle pride/the whole 7 deadly sins thing weirdly, but it creates the peculiar question of what the Dragon does the whole time. If its only purpose is destruction, and as far as we know the only way to make a Dragon is to kill the previous one out of pride, then the existence of the current dragon implies an unbroken chain of Dragons - but where were all those Dragons previously? Their purpose is destruction, so what do they gain by just hanging out (assuming that's what they were doing)? It's just shallow.
I mean, the nature of the lore of the Dragon's Dogma game universe makes it a goldmine to extract thematic meaning, but in the show the only notable theme is something like "even though humans are pretty much all corrupt, they're still worth saving as a species", that second part having culminated in Ethan's declaration in the last episode that humans are redeemable. But that's confusing as hell: why should even Ethan believe that based off what we've seen in the show? His entire human interaction from the beginning of the show through to the end has been a sharp decline downwards as he's seen more and more degeneracy in his peers. It would be more believable for him to have an arc that starts off optimistic of humans and disdainful towards the sub-humanity of the Pawns, but by the end despising the evils of humanity and appreciating the pure-mindedness of Hannah.
At this stage I've written enough, so I'll leave out the criticisms of the actual plot and characters I was thinking of doing and ending here.
Tl;dr: They had SO MUCH TO WORK with used NONE OF IT, and miserably messed up the themes.