On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Awesome
If you find the humor of popular web comic Penny Arcade to be distasteful, too twisted, or not to your liking, than you are in the wrong place. I won’t be able to convince you of Penny Arcade: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode Two’s strongest point: the writing. If you didn’t like Episode One for any reason, again, there’s not really anything I can do for you. The game has improved but it is still the same game.
Now for the rest of us, yes, this game is absolutely worth every Microsoft Point.
If you’ve played Penny Arcade: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One, than you are aware of the formula. It’s a point-and-click adventure revamped into an RPG. You move around your custom-created character (brought back from the first game, if you finished it) with Gabe and Tycho in tow looking in every nook and cranny for items, hilarious descriptions, and battle.
The combat is tweaked a little bit in Penny Arcade: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode Two. It is now easier to hit those dodge commands, and implementing a hit-counter that makes you more powerful the longer you go without taking an un-blocked attack. In the end, however, it’s still the same Final Fantasy 4-esque system of timer-based actions. First a character’s item bar will fill up, then his attack bar, than his special bar. The special attacks have various little micro-games built in for more damage, and multiple party members with full special bars can team up for devastatingly over-the-top combo attacks. If you find the combat to easy, you can ramp up the difficulty any time you wish, and upon the first completion you unlock Insane Mode to challenge your mettle against the game’s worst. It’s a welcomed addition considering Episode One had little to no reason to play again.
Penny Arcade: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode Two has one huge selling point: it is downright hilarious. This game is remarkably well written; I’d venture to say it’s one of the most well written games I have played. Each character is carefully crafted and the little item descriptions are both hilarious and, from a writers stand point, admirably presented. Pardon me for gushing, but my hat is off to the amazing writing talents of Penny Arcade author Jerry Holkins.
Penny Arcade: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode Two has fine combat, some truly great writing, and even the art design goes well. Mike Krahulik’s art style from the comic has translated well into this game, not only in 3D models but also in the game’s comic-panel conversations and animated cut-scenes.
The only real downturn to this game is it’s technical shortcomings, and even those aren’t to plenty. The fact is the overworlds in this game come with some lag. At some times the game is running silky smooth, and others it’s chugging along below 30 frames per second. Also, Penny Arcade: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode Two has a few invisible walls that make navigating a chore, and on a couple of occasions, I got stuck behind debris. Fortunately you can access the main map at almost any time, so nothing was lost. It’s just a few little tweaks that could help make this a better game.
In the end, the Penny Arcade: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness series is episodic gaming at it’s best. So far, each episode has managed to tell a full story, while leaving parts of a larger arc to be dealt with later. It’s admirable how well crafted these games are from a narrative, and with that in mind, this series deserves your attention. I can’t think of any reason you shouldn’t download it, unless your plan is to say how bad it is because you have some unreasonable grudge against Penny Arcade (I’m looking at you, IGN).
-Make it a Good One,
Randy "Dr. Randle" Marr