Penny Arcade’s On The Rain-Slick Precipice Of Darkness came to me as a “gift” from the wife. I quotation “gift” because what I really think she wanted was to see the game and anticipated fortuitous side-effects by claiming it was a present. But she paid for it with her her very own Microsoft Points, from her account, so I guess it still counts.
She was right anyway, because this game checks all the boxes of things that appeal to me as a gamer and as an individual. This game has the classic artistic style of Penny Arcade, the gameplay of Final Fantasy, off-colour humour, swearing, drinking, robot monkey fighting, and all in a little slice of steam-punk suburbia. Class!
On The Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness is an episodical RPG available through Xbox Live Arcade. At the moment two episodes are available, with a further two on the way (Episode 3 is supposed to be available sometime this year). The episodes are a decent length each, but not amazingly long (maybe 9-10 hours play apiece?). This is why you may want to wait until the desired Episode gets a discount on Live, or if you’re not really too keen on Penny Arcade, until the whole thing gets released in one package (read: what I’m waiting for the Fallout 3 DLC to do). Any character you create that has completed the previous episode can be ported to the next, essentially allowing you to play the whole game through with the charater you created in Episode 1. The game’s level system is set up in such a way that this can be allowed too.
Each episode allows the character to gain 15 levels and then caps, so each proceeding episode simply starts your character at the level cap number and goes from there. The game also includes the ability to unlock content for future episodes (for instance, a gramophone version of the comic’s drunken surly Div is only unlockable by combining an item from both Episode 1 and 2), so while each game has it’s own contained story arc, the overall plot rewards playing them in order.
The character creation is a standout in this game. When you first begin, you may think that the options are sort of limited. There are only about three options for each item of clothing, hair style, etc. The reason for this becomes immediately apparent when the game loads up the first level. The models for the game are in 3D, but each player model customisation also has a corresponding 2D representation that is entered into the cut-scenes and dialog boxes. The cut-scenes are presented as kind of a FMV comic (each scene is a panel), and in these comics, sure enough, is your character looking just like you made them. It’s a very nice touch, as players can approximate what they look like and have it instantly transformed into the Penny Arcade style.
The game itself plays like a Final Fantasy clone. The primary party is the player, and before long Gabe and Tycho (Penny Arcade’s main characters) becoome playable too. The player’s house is destroyed by an enormous, steam powered Fruit Fucker (if you don’t know, read up), which begins the game as a quest for revenge. You team up with Gabe and Tycho’s detective agency to track down the Fruit Fucker, but soon get drawn in to the paranormal investigation surrounding it’s existence.
The game is set in “New Arcadia”, a kind of 1940s-esque steam-punk suburbia. Players explore “panels” of various locations and fight enemies to advance the plot. Much of the game’s humour can be uncovered by simply walking around any given area and investigating every-day items.
The combat has been simplified down to three options: items, attacks and special attacks. Think a less costume-intensive version of Final Fantasy X2. There is a basic block/counter-attack system, as well as items to effect the speed, defence and damage of either you or your enemies. Characters can also combine their special attacks into team-up attacks for greater damage.
Throughout the game you’ll also encounter “support” characters, who’s abilities charge slowly across multiple combats before being ready to unleash. Some of these are quite useful (like Anne-Claire’s orbiting weather balloon cannon) while others are just for the fun of it (such as T. Kemper’s grooming attack).
The reason this game sets itself apart from other DLC is in it’s humour. The Penny Arcade mix of cuss words, extreme violence and off colour jokes is a sure-fire winner in my book. Seeing the words “Oh Fuck!” sweep across the screen as combat is initiated was probably worth the price of admission in itself. The game doesn’t take itself too seriously either. It even arms your player with a variety of gardening tools as weapons (which can be suitably upgraded, of course). Dialogue is snappy, sarcastic and keeps the player on track by offering visual and audio references to the topic at hand.
The verdict: If you enjoy the comics, you’ll love this game. It brings the same elements that make Penny Arcade such a good webcomic to your Xbox with panache (love that word). If you’re not such a fan of the comics, it’s still a great RPG, but you’d probably be better off waiting for a price drop if you want to feel like you’ve got your money’s worth lengthwise. You can get the game via Xbox Live, at Greenhouse or through Steam. Thumbs up!
3 Responses to “On The Rain-Slick Precipice Of Darkness Review”
The Wife bought this game as an actual present because Lizbt said it was good! So NER!
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