Three the Hard Way is an excellent freeware console-style RPG that features an excellent storyline, 40+ hours of gameplay, and a well-balanced combat system.Similar to Square's Romancing Sa-Ga series (that was never released outside Asia), the game features several main characters, each of whom has his/her own agenda to pursue. Despite a banal save-the-world-from-evil plot, the game's protagonist is more interesting than most RPGs: you control a timeless hero who is motivated solely by money - a nice change from the goody-two-shoes hero in other games ;)
The game is very well-designed and well written. The dungeons are huge, the gameworld well-drawn, and the battles much more difficult than your average console RPG. Again similar to Romancing Sa-Ga, Three the Hard Way implements a skill-based character development system that uses no experience point or leveling-up. Instead of gaining experience points, your characters gain a small number of points in different stats (strength, agility, etc.) each time a battle is won. Although this is basically a rip-off of RS-G, the game executes it very well. The plot moves along at a pleasant pace, with a lot of humor in the writing that pokes fun at the genre. Another nice touch is that you can mix ingredients to make new items in the game.
With plenty of sidequests, hidden treasures, interesting NPCs, and good writing to boot, Three the Hard Way will occupy your interest for much longer than many commercial RPG's. If you enjoy console-style RPGs that are harder than average, check out this excellent underdog that raises the bar of fanmade games.
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