On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One
Dont Be Put off if you've never read the Penny Arcade cartoon strip at penny-arcade, com. Cartoon strips are good like that, they have to make themselves accessible to a new crowd, every day. You might not be aware of the mechanical gentleman known colloquially as the Fruit Fucker, but if that's the case, you'll just have to enjoy throwing oranges at a tiny leg-humping robot on a different level. Might I suggest erotic whimsy?
Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rain-Slick Precipice Of Darkness is most similar to Final Fantasy, although that conjures a world of complexity and seriousness that is completely absent in this title.
PAA is, first and foremost fun and funny. There are no random encounters. Cutscenes and dialogue are, as you'd expect, in a 2D comic-book style, and the area exploration and combat is dealt with in the gorgeous cel-shaded artwork you can see littered about the page.
Gabe and Tycho aren't voiced, sensibly, so only the excellent narrator speaks. This also gives you the precious ability to get through the game at your own reading pace, without feeling like you're missing a bit of acting.
You Get 25 Gil
Walk into an enemy, and battle starts. After the classic roll for initiative, it's a elegantly simple and well-executed take on traditional RPG turn-based combat. Over time, three buttons fill up. The first allows you to use an item, which are found in plentiful crates and bins around the levels. At the beginning, these are essential.
With the second circle full, you can use a basic attack, and as your characters level up, you'll start to wait for the final circle to fill. This allows you I to use any of your character's three unlockable special moves. A minigame (determines how much damage you cause and whether you get the bonus status effect. You can also do team attacks, but these are poorly thought-out and rarely give the payoff you feel you deserve.
PAA is a streamlined game - you're only ever one click away from your home, Iso running around is kept to a minimum. The only penalty for death is an insult and having to fight the battle again. There's no distinction, as far as healing is concerned, between damage and incapacitation. This keeps the inventory simple - just bandage a knocked-out partner, and they're back in the fray.
Most anti-RPG of all, there's no monster respawn. The XP available to you is finite - which means you're levelling up when Hothead wants you to, not because you're dumb enough to spend six hours killing the same bee. All this makes the episode feel safe, self-contained, and removes the dread of infinity that characterises most RPGs. Apart from the fairground games (you need five wins on each to unlock everything), nothing wastes your time.
For such an excellent cartoon strip, the obligation to be funny must be crushing. But it's not a problem - the dialogue is effortlessly hilarious and crass. Seriously crass. If jokes about piss and swear words make you flinch because you think adults have no place divining mirth in such indelicate matters, then I have but two nuggets of counsel. Of primary concern, refrain at all costs from the fiscal acquisition of this product Second, lighten up, you stuffy prick.
Swearing in games is usually - let's be honest - a complete shitbomb. Far from making everyone look "growed-up" and exciting, it spatters us with its ugly teenage taint. This game is the crudest in recent memory, but unlike Kane & Lynch, Gabe and-Tycho swear effectively by swearing intelligently. The expletives come a little too regularly to keep their comic sting, but like Keats himself famously failed to say - a stream of elegant filth is a joy forever. When a park guard suggests you can't enter using a Family Ticket because you're not a real family, the retort "we're as related as fuck" feels like something I'd want to say.
The game won't break you, the puzzles are basic, and the combat is only occasionally tough, but there's a constant conveyor-belt dropping a blend of new powers, plot progress and laughter into your cheerful lap. What they'll do to continue the progress without pressing a big reset button is a mystery to me - let's deal.with that once we've got to it.
Download On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP