Thursday, June 28, 2012

Second Opinion - Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3

As I have stated before, Episodes One and Two of Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness are very enjoyable and are among my favorite games. However, Hothead Games, the developer of the first 2 episodes, decided to cease production of the series in pursuit of other projects, leaving the story only half-finished and Jerry Holkins, the writer of Penny Arcade, to create a prose version of what would have happened in Episode Three (I have yet to read it). Fortunately for fans of the games, the series would later be picked up by Zeboyd games, developer of Cthulu Saves the World. After a four-year wait from Episode Two, the switch to a 16-bit graphical style from 3D graphics does not stop the game from being an entertaining installment in the OTRSPOD series.

Though you are not involved in the events of OTRSPOD 3, the story is still very engaging as it focuses more on Gabe and Tycho after the first two Episodes (you still get a mention as someone who helped them defeat two evil gods). In addition to being able to control them, you also get to control their roommate Jim and a new character, Moira, through various new and old locales on a quest to defeat a third dark god, Yog Modaigh, Lord of Doors. Along the way, you learn some interesting facts about the Brahe clan and how their involvement with this sort of nature is crucial to Yog Modaigh's motivations.

The combat is different this time around, but I found it to have a good amount of depth. Rather than moving in real time, each character (including enemies) is represented on a bar in the corner, displaying who's turn it is at what time. Because everyone moves down the bar at different speeds, this can create situations where you have to really think about how you want to defeat the current wave of enemies. The game also features a  well-done character class system, where giving one of your party members a Class Pin obtained during gameplay grants them access to a whole new array of abilities, which grows bigger the more they level up. The fact that each character is able to wield 2 Class Pins also greatly adds to the variety of moves you can perform, given that you have enough MP to use them, letting you think more about how to approach certain situations in combat.

While this installment may be different from the ones before, the normal Penny Arcade humor remains intact. At various points in the story, someone (mainly Gabe or Tycho) will say something that helps lighten the dark tone of the narrative a bit before it becomes serious again. Whenever you target an enemy in battle, some of which are clever visual references to earlier Penny Arcade strips, you also get to see a description of them, which most of the time will say something funny about them, especially when it relates to the situation. There's even an entire section that switches to a more 8-bit graphical style that parodies older RPGs at every opportunity.

Out of my entire experience, the only issue I have involves something being carried over between games. I'm not talking about the lack of a character creator, but rather a key that is given to you by Dr. Stripes in Episode Two. Throughout the entirety of OTRSPOD 3, as much as I enjoyed it, I was half-expecting that key to come into play so I could see what he forgot he had in his safe deposit box. This could be attributed to the shift in developers halfway through the series, but in any case this bugged me a little.

Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 is a game that any RPG or Penny Arcade fan is sure to enjoy (as long as they are of age). Those that have played the first two games from Hothead will not want to miss out on the long-awaited return of OTRSPOD, and knowledge of the first 2 games is not required for anyone that wants to hop on the bandwagon. As a plus, this game only costs $5, which is a great deal for 12 entertaining hours of gameplay.

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