Personally I really enjoy LIF, however if you aren't playing with a group of friends/others it can become very boring and it is almost impossible to construct large things by yourself. However, with a group this game is fantastic, yes, you do have to invest time levelling up skills however the possibilities are almost endless, you can terraform the terrain to how you like, dig underground mines, build simple wooden settlements to large castles with keeps, you choose exactly how your settlement is constructed.
I have yet to experience combat properly at the moment but the combat system feels pretty solid. Overall if you like medieval sort of era games and don't mind investing time and effort into making what you desire I think LIF is a great game to have. I'd probably wait until it's on sale though to pick it up.