Monday, June 25, 2012

Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode Two

Following the success of Episode One, Episode Two of Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness (OTRSPOD) was released in late 2008, months after its predecessor. Hothead was once again the developer of this project, creating half of a planned four-game series. This second installment brought some improvements to the first one's formula, creating another worthwhile and unforgettable experience (for anyone of age).

When you finally settle into a new home, Gabe and Tycho of the Startling Developments Detective Agency end up wrecking it again, forcing you to once again look for a new abode. As it turns out, the two are still investigating the giant robot from the first game, at which point you join them. As the search for clues goes deeper, you learn more about Tycho's family and how another dark force relates to all this.

The graphics appear similar to the first episode, since they are only months apart, but they still perfectly emulate the then-current art style of the Penny Arcade webcomic. The game itself is still extremely hilarious, with several hidden jokes spread throughout each area. There's even a few more series' of jokes to be found, among them describing a singular painting and a continuation of the Eggplant Lincoln jokes from Episode One. Much like in the last game there's plenty of collectibles to be found amidst all the humor, and obtaining all the hidden concept art earns you another funny exclusive Penny Arcade strip.

What I can comment on without repeating my points on the first episode is that there are some improvements made to the combat system. For starters, it is now much easier to block against your attackers, in addition to  enemies not being able to repeatedly spam attacks before you are able to even get a hit in (at least until the last act). Another welcome change, though purely cosmetic, is that there is now more of a distinction between who is currently attacking. To elaborate, whenever a character battles, the name of the attack appears at the top of the screen. In the first game, all of these labels were white text on a red backdrop, but in this episode your party's attack names are on a green backdrop, making it easier to tell which side it is in an instant.

If there's one complaint I have with the game, it has to be the final boss. It's not that he's too difficult or anything, but rather that you don't really get to actually fight him. Just as the battle begins, when you've been preparing for it in the last act, it abruptly switches to a minigame in which you must defeat your opponent with the correct combination of commands. This seems somewhat anticlimactic to me, but at least it ties up one part of the narrative that occurs closer to the end.

Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode Two is an excellent addition to the series that should not be missed by anyone, including Penny Arcade fans. Those that have played the first game first will also receive a special benefit from it, since playing both episodes in order earns you both halves of a support character for use in battle.

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