A Fun, Silly, Retro RPG Extravaganza!
Penny Arcade has always been good for a laugh, its silly, its witty, its goofy, and it doesn't take it self seriously. Why not start making video games? Fast forward several years and change in developers and come at Precipice of Darkness from a completely different angle and PoD 3 is born.PoD 3 is most defiantly a retro video game pulling at your fond memories of games like Final Fantasy 1 through 6 in a pretty huge way, while at the same time being wholly its own beast.
The super pixelated graphics are good, but I was hoping for just a little more resolution especially in things like characters dialog window faces, occasionally Gabe or Tycho look like they may be missing teeth, but the backgrounds, the in battle or world map sprites and the monsters you face look great. The controls are quick and easy, very simplistic with just movement, accept, cancel and menu.
What PoD 3 really brings to the table are its well established silly but good writing style and some truly hilariously wonderful combat abilities and classes. Each character as you find them in the game will come as a class that is permanently set, Gabe for example is a Brute who likes very much to punch and then punch again.
As you win fights you of course earn exp which will level you up unlocking passive and combat abilities. Combat abilities or Specials almost all use MP (some are 0MP) 1 MP, by default is given each time a characters command phase begins, you could just do a base attack or defend to save up points for greater abilties, but keep in mind as each turn goes on the bad guys you face slowly build up stronger attacks.
Hopfully you're still with me because here's where it goes off the deep end. Very quickly in the game you will unlock a second class slot, so you can combine your Brute with the powers and skills of... a Hobo... or a Tube Samurai, a Gentleman, or a Cordwainer (a shoe maker). Secondary classes quickly level up as well gaining passives and specials of their own regardless of if you have them equipped or not. Short on healing? Make Gabe a Gentleman and have him help out. Want to really buff up his strength? Hobo or Tube Samurai could be a good choice. Keep in mind each class or pin can only be equipped to one character at a time.
A little bit further into the game and you unlock a third class slot and even more classes to choose from! The combos that you can build are fresh, and interesting in just about any way that you choose to use them. Also thanks to the different difficulty settings you can keep combat from getting way too easy or way too hard, whatever you may like.
Other things slightly different from a standard turn-based rpg include healing to full at the end of each battle and items being infinite but only usable a specific number of times per fight. The combat feels pretty balanced around these ideas and with all the classes and abilities constantly being unlocked spending less time worrying about post battle healing or running to town to buy 99 more potions won't be missed at all. Lastly, some characters will have abilities that are called interrupts that knock baddies back down the action order bar pushing them away from actually attacking, exploiting this to your benefit can be fun, do it well and you can really lock someone down for a bit, creating a good opening for your other characters to charge up MP and unleash their crazy special abilities like Rat Swarm or turning into a T-Rex.
I just have to point out again that the speed at which everything unlocks coupled with the number of characters and classes makes a real treat where you are almost constantly leveling up something and gaining some new crazy ability that you cant wait to unleash on some equally crazy bad guy that was unfortunate enough to cross you. It's very good fun and it keeps the combat interesting for the long haul.
That said the game can be a little combat heavy, with large areas of bad guys to kill, a couple times I did find myself wishing for a break in the action with a little more witty or goofy dialog, but usually you are committed to clear or finish a zone once you've started and its a pretty linear path of progression with a few option things to do or places to go from time to time for the most part. However you do also have the abilty to save anywhere and anytime you aren't in combat, I preffer this greatly to a save point system that only tends to give away an upcoming story moment or boss battle.
Just about every choice that PoD 3 makes is defiantly something a gamer could want or agree on, streamlining the experience for fun rather than micro management of unnecessary things.
Penny Arcade's Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 is a real throw back, taking in a lot of great mechanics from legendary RPGs while also turning a lot of conventions up a big notch and maintaining silly, goofy but well written dialog and story line that should bring a smile to a lot of faces and a chuckle to a lot of bellies.