The game does start out difficult, but like mentioned above, it gets easier (too easy in fact, as you become overpowered for the game in my opinion). Does make for a fun run and gun second playthrough though!
Yeah I would have definitely liked at least the option to retain that difficulty level from first stepping outside Cassardis... I remember a pack of Saurians being an epic challenge in the early days too. And those bandits sent me packing with my tail between my legs on several occasions by the Witchwood. Now I barely even break stride as I run past.
I got 200 hours out of it before platinum. And I really enjoyed it. Having said that, you could easily wait until it drops in price, and there's nothing to stop you trading it in once you're bored of it...
If money is an issue, I'd say get something with decent online and get this cheap. But I'd definitely recommend it, yes.