More Thoughts on Penny Arcade 3
Short answer to 'should you buy this': If you're a fan of the 16bit/2D final fantasy games, Dragon Quest, Cthuhlu Saves the World (this game was made by that studio after all) then Yes.
Afraid you won't be able to understand what's going on since this is a third game in the series? Don't worry. With the switch in studios there are little summaries of events in the agency office you start in. It isn't much compared to actually playing, but the reviews are somewhat mixed on the last two and it beats going in cold. That and things really do get explained as you go along. I managed to keep up well enough to be drawn in.
However it's one of those games where for most of the story you don't have to worry about a huge baroque plotline with more twists and turns than an M. C. Escher painting. Sit back. Beat up tons of Doods, enjoy the occasional joke or go wtf at the enemy designs, a d move on all while testing out combinations on each character..
Speaking of they are interesting and invintive. The Tube Samurai is, of course, based off of Gabe's character from the strip, the Apocolyptist gives good spells, but they all take time to pull off, the Crabomancer is an interesting defensivly oriented class that does damage based around the character's defensive rating, plus you have the classes that are character specific (Scholar, Necromaster, Brute, Gumshoe.) It's all interesting to pick and choose even if you don't want to actually use the active abilities of a class due to the passive skills that boost whenever you've equipped that pin.
What of Combat itself? Unlike Oldschool Final Fantasy or Cthuhlu saves the world you see a timeline at the top of the screen showing who's slated to go next and how big a gap between one character and the next, which gives an interesting gameplay mechanic where if you use specific moves you can interrupt a character that's supposed to go next meaning you can keep them from moving if you're good at spotting when and are lucky enough to have the MP on the right character to act. Time it right and you can save your party from a total wipe by constantly keeping your enemy from acting (like I did on the bonus boss.)
Items too aren't what you'd expect. Instead of having to go to the store and stock up, or hope you find items, or even like with Cthuhlu Saves the World and only getting x number of things you find laying around your items refill between battle. Think of it as an expansion of CStW's system in that the potions are the same 'heals but can also revive downed party members, but you also get things that remove stat effects, buff items, and even a few things to use to attack with. You get x number of uses per battle which takes some of the pressure off.
Does this make the game sound too easy? Again, like with CStW you get several difficulties to choose from, and this time you can switch n the fly.
Game's loaded with shout-outs, combat goes smoothly and the world looks great. Any negatives I'd have liked some optional content outside of the arena and the DLC that you can go to after mastering all the class pins but other than that no side dungeons. No Missions. Still. They focused on the core gameplay and gave a very memorable experience and this gives me reason to think the next game, due out June 7th, will be even better since it's made by the same studio and it will be the last.
I'm personally hoping the Robot from This Strip shows up at some point. Because that world looks pretty spiffy and showed me that Gabe and Tyco can do serious when it suits them.