misterhaan's Penny Arcade: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness - Episode One (PC) review

Great for Penny Arcade fans who like a little RPG

I picked up the two episodes that actually got made from what was meant to be a 4-episode series on a Steam sale because I like Penny Arcade and they looked like the sort of games I’d enjoy. It also didn’t hurt that they were cheap!

You start off as your own customizable character, in that you pick your hair, clothes, and name before you start. You are soon joined by Gabe and Tycho who form the three characters of your party for the rest of the game. There are also a couple supporting characters you can call in to help you out every now and then. The story and the writing style is exactly what I expected from Penny Arcade and probably my favorite part of the game. If you’re not familiar with Penny Arcade, I could try to describe it for you but you’d get a better idea by just reading the last few comics. The art is a 3D, cartoony, steampunk style which I was also very into and again is what I expected from Penny Arcade.

The gameplay reminded me of Super Mario RPG. You explore until you run into an enemy and then jump into combat mode, where your party lines up against the enemies. Your main characters can perform their basic attack, one of their special attacks (probably the latest one they’ve learned), or team up with other characters for 2- or 3-member team attacks. Instead of being turn-based, there’s a warm-up meter on each character that resets on each action (including using items).

It’s been a while, but I think the basic attacks require half full while special and team attacks require a full meter. You definitely don’t need to wait as long before you can do a basic attack. You can press the attack button to block or to make your attack more powerful. Special attacks require charging which is basically a short minigame, getting harder with each newer special attack. If you can’t manage to fully charge a new special attack, you’re probably better off using the previous one. Each character has their own genre of charging minigame. For example, yours is a swinging arm that you need to reverse within a specific zone multiple times. I found that I was unable to reliably complete the minigame to charge Tycho’s best special attack, which was a little frustrating.

Defeating robot enemies gains you parts that can be used to upgrade the characters weapons, with enough parts in the game to upgrade everyone fully. Characters also level up, reaching their maximum level just before the end if you seek out all the battles. The RPG elements to this game are all very much on the casual side — leveling up increases characters’ stats in a predetermined way and each character has exactly one weapon (that can be upgraded twice), so no deciding what to equip or how to spend stat points. I could have gone for a little more depth here.

The Steam version includes 12 achievements. Some of them you automatically get for certain progress in the game, a few more come from fully exploring the game, and then there are some that I wouldn’t have done if I didn’t know there was an achievement for it. Two of those seem hard enough I didn’t even try for them, but the other one was a fun change.

If you’re looking for an RPG this game may disappoint you, but if you’re a fellow Penny Arcade fan looking for some RPG mixed in with a great story you’ll likely enjoy playing through this once and then letting it sit. Okay, maybe twice to pick up a couple more achievements.

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    This article was originally posted on BnBGamingon February 6th, 2011.Penny Arcade is an online webcomic that follows the antics of two gamers named Tycho and Gabe, whose real life counterparts Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik write and draw the comic. They are veterans of the gaming comic scene and have their own charity, gaming convention, podcast, live video series and thanks to Hothead Games their own videogame, an RPG/adventure hybrid loosely based on the comic.The game is set in a fictional ...

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