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Let's say the design slightly drifted from what we first pitched, mainly due to time and production constraints ^^.
You may be right in saying that the central mechanic is out of focus, and we would have certainly tweak how it works if it wasn't for the deadline getting closer and closer.  
I'm not the designer, so I won't elaborate too much but we all agree we probably spend too much time and focus on driving the team, and might have, as you said, not step back enough.
I think we are trying to acknowledge of that and, from those already there, it was already an improvement compared to last year edition. I'm sure will do better next year ^^.
Thanks for your constructive feedback though, we'll try to keep your advice in minds when we'll iterate on this entry again (probably after the shit-ton of bugs we need to fix first xD).