• After a year of title updates made to Penny Arcade Adventures 3, Zeboyd Games finally releases the conclusion to the story that left off in a cliffhanger at the end of Episode 3. This time the world has truly ended, or rather it would have, but now the world and story will end in this conclusion. Was it worth the long wait? Indeed it was.

    Not much has changed from the last game in the series, as it still uses the same turn-based gameplay from the last episode,where turns are based on agility and a command bar much like Grandia. If you use Interrupt techniques at the right time you can delay the target’s turn, for example. Also as you take longer to deal with the enemy, they increase in strength to a max of 200%. The game keeps track and tells you which enemies have what power levels and remaining hit points. There are a few new Special Battle conditions such as characters that start the battle stunned, or funny ones where they receive a temporary level boost. This makes battling remain fresh throughout the game and sometimes offering a bit of challenge.

    New to this episode is the removal of the class system. It has now been replaced with monster companions, practically parodying Pokemon. Each monster now can fulfill the roles of one or two classes, and can equip one additional class via the Trainer system, where they can take skills from the human characters, as the humans don’t actually fight. Well, save for one character. Some monsters are optional and must be found. If you want a tank character, use the Vending machine monster. The monsters can also use equipment which now is split into types, with passive skills assigned to them so you need to determine whether or not skills are more important than stat mods. Also, due to the story, you will be forced to get used to handling two separate teams until they meet up adding a bit of freshness as well as some small experimentation.

    Speaking of optional content, the game has has done away with a marker based map system and now sports an explorable world map. There are many short optional dungeons with a handful of enemies and good loot and potential monsters to recruit. It’s a shame that none of these areas are expansive or add to the story though. Missing from this game once again is a any place to grind money or levels. While not grinding for levels isn’t a problem money is limited, necessitating you to loot and seek out every hidden chest for cash, and forcing the player to conserve and spend wisely. Kind of adds a bit of challenge but in some ways it feels like an oversight.

    Greatly improved is the story writing, humor and music. The composer Hyperduck lends his musical talents to the games and it sounds worlds better than the previous game. The quality is high and it sounds more reminiscent of tracks from games in the late Super Nintendo era, composition wise. Sounds effects are also improved and there is even one vocal track, featuring a joke many JRPG lovers will get a kick out of. The writing is also very much cleaned up, and the humor while less prevalent, taking a minor backseat to the more serious nature of the game’s story. But the humor that is there is very much improved. The game takes even more direct references to Final Fantasy VI and the graphic quality to match.

    In conclusion, Penny Arcade Adventures 4 is a refinement not only for the Penny Arcade series, but Zeboyd Games as a whole. While there is no DLC planned there might be little additions that will come with title updates. Despite that, the 15 hour game length is definitely worth the 5 dollar purchase price, which is the same on Steam and Xbox Live Indie Games. Check it out.

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