There are also villains and monsters to fight. Combat is turn-based and there are a range of weapons to buy, spells to learn and objects to use in battle.
You will die a lot - this is part of the game. Death takes you to a plasticine plateau where you can rest, add hit points and make sandcastles before heading back through the portal and rejoining the fray.
Hylics is available at a very cheap price on Steam and will give you several hours of satisfyingly different JRPG gameplay. Just don't expect anything to make sense.