I quite enjoyed PAA:ORSPD episode 3, made by the guys that did Breath of Death and Chtulu saves the world, it was a neat little turn-based RPG with some active time battle elements and some humour. At the end of the day I blasted through it, a bit confused by the plot but quite enamoured by the job system. What about this episode 4? It’s not as good, sadly.
There’s not much to say about the plot - it’s not really a gameplay element - but this time around, you fight using monsters that you acquire through the game and link to your characters. The monsters get their own skillsets, your characters also have their own that they share with them. I always feel fidgety in games where you have a party of X but can get up to 4X party members, I never know who to use, especially if they’re not too different. I really enjoyed the 3rd game’s four characters with different jobs system, monsters, not as much.
The stat system is… almost an afterthought. I’m sure deep down inside the code, all attacks and defences are based on some stat, the speed you attack, the damage you deal and take… It has no big impact on actual gameplay though, what I’ve played of this game, I didn’t care much about stats and never felt like my character needed more strength or magic defense. I just equipped whatever I got and managed to win all fights, even the optional ones, although the fights in this game are quite challenging. I kinda like the way enemies get 5% stronger each turn, making fights more and more difficult as they go.
I’m a bit perplexed at the relevancy of the ‘special battle conditions’ that occur from time to time - at fixed locations. You fight a very large number of different enemies - no random encounters - and all fights are more-or-less different, why have ‘special conditions’ when you’re never going to meet an enemy again? If that cactus dude reflects damage, okay! If these slaves have more hp, don’t make that a ‘special condition’, just have them go with more hp than usual! Or make the special conditions happen randomly! Otherwise your party covers many healing, damage-over-time spells, magic attacks of various elements and free use of items with this game’s interesting MP system where you need these points to use abilities and they go up each turn. Sucks that some character left, I loved his ability that gave me 1 MP, pretty good to power-up my spellcaster.
I barely used items - you have infinite of them but only a few uses per battle, you can upgrade their effects - and found some of the battle system weird and hard to understand. Like enemies with no elemental weaknesses that take critical hits from my attacks, or enemies that take critical damage from fire on one attack, but on the other only takes regular damage. That’s not a big deal, of course, and I was mostly turned off of that game by the monster system and the split parties, but if you like weird SNES-like RPGs, this one might be for you.