We'll likely be going back and reviewing Hothead Games' original two episodes in the near future, but for now we're going to focus our latest critique on Zeboyd Games' Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness - Episode Three. Hopefully the next installment shortens the name a bit:
Since combat is almost all to do in the game, it's important that it's good. Fortunately, much like prior Zeboyd releases, Episode 3 has some very satisfying turn-based battles that recall the best of old-school JRPGs, and even improve upon them. There are a number of unique and interesting mechanics that put a new spin on the tired formula through what are ultimately some pretty simple changes.
For instance, in most RPGs, you start out with MP or mana... but in Episode 3, characters start battles with none, and gain 1 MP per turn (which can be bolstered with items and abilities). Meanwhile, enemies gain in attack power the longer the battle goes on. Since special moves, later on, are just about the only ones you'll want to use, combat becomes an interesting decision-making process of managing MP across four characters, and planning in advance how to best use your abilities and the time available before enemies become truly deadly. While it can be tempting to spam default attacks, usually patience will win out in the end... though this varies quite a bit based on class load-out.