Three the Hard Way (2003)

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At first glance TtHW doesn’t look too impressive. It has agreeable maps and graphics, but nothing too fancy. Only much later in the game do these things change from agreeable to (in parts) really good.

What TtHW has is tons of gameplay, a neat character growth system that forces you to explore (you’ll either hate or love the system) and some nifty mini-games sprinkled through the whole game. All that only makes a good, not a great game. And here comes the one thing that its so impressive about TtHW. The story and the writing.

Admittedly, the plot is the common safe-the-world-from-evildoers fantasy cliche, but it’s done so well that it didn’t faze me the least. The plot turns and twists, you’ll never know what happens next, but it always remains coherent. What drives the plot are the characters, their interactions, their dialogue, and that is, aside from the plot itself, another big strength of TtHW. The characters become alive during the course of the game, you really want to know what happens next to them, how they develop, whether they live or die.

TtHW is a brilliant freeware jRPG game, one that even rivals (and surpasses) many commercial games when it comes to plot and writing.