Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode One review
Penny Arcade Breaks out on the PS3
Great sense of humor
Graphics are decent
Get to build your own character
Very easy to pick up and play
A little bit on the pricey side
Character building options are limited
Low replay value
The story sometimes makes little sense
Nearly ten years ago a phenomenon began by creative talents Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik in the form of a web comic. Surviving on mere donations during it's early stages, it quickly became a profitable business that has led to a yearly gaming convention known as PAX and has started a very profitable charitable organization known as Child's Play.
The Penny Arcade web comic strip has grown to epic proportions in no time, and it was only a matter of time before it became a video game. After all that is what the strip is about, so it was pretty inevitable. And even though they have shown much favoritism for the XBOX (both in their strip and release of the game), it didn't detract from the finished product on the PS3.
Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness Episode One is definitely a mouthful to say, but is just the first hint at the antics to be found inside. Just like the comic, expect to find plenty of raunchy humor and light hearted jabs at just about anything and everything under the sun. If you're easily offended you might as well stay away from this title. I don't think I need to mention it is rated M for Mature.
The graphics are actually pretty decent considering it's a PSN game. Of course it goes without saying it's nowhere near as nice as say Wipeout HD....but it gets the job done. The style of artwork used in this game is what you would expect from a Penny Arcade comic; crisp, clear, and colorful. It feels very well polished, however you can tell that the background scenery took a back seat to the overall foreground action. The cut scenes themselves utilize a comic panel style story telling technique that falls comfortably in line with the rest of the game.
The gameplay is very basic, and is pretty standard for the RPG style. Instead of the turn based battle system they use a slight variation of the popular active time battle system and it works very well in this game. Before every battle you get a dice roll for initiative.....sometimes you win, and sometimes the enemy does. This can give either of you a decent advantage at the start of the battle. Let's just hope you are a 'natural 20'.
You can gain experience and collect items to upgrade your weapons, though the level cap is 15 and you can't change the basic weapons. Gabe has his fists, Tycho has a machine gun, and you......well you get a rake. Still, at level 15 with all the weapons upgraded your team becomes a powerhouse. There are also plenty of items to use as well that can do damage, heal you, debuff the enemy, or buff you up.
There are some collectible concept art pieces scattered through out the game as well as records that you can use to play specific music pieces from the game. The musical score in this game actually does a fine job of setting the mood of the overall game. It's not a haunting track that sticks in your head for days (or even YEARS!), such as those found in other fantasy titles, and overall the soundtrack is a bit short. It's main strength is used for setting the scene so-to-speak, whereas it's main weakness is that it is repetitive during normal game play.
The game starts you off in your quiet neighborhood raking up your yard, when a giant robot stomps your house to bits. After a short investigation of the neighborhood you run across Tycho and Gabe from the Penny Arcade strip who join your party to determine where the giant robot is coming from, where it's heading, and why. The mystery sees you trouncing through odd areas such as hobo filled alleys and a boardwalk full of mimes.......everyone hates mimes!!
The only problem I have with the game story wise is that it often drifts too far away from your main priority. I can't even say that the main story was even touched upon too much in this episode. I think it's to be expected as the word is that there will be a total of four episodes. However, there were times where I felt a bit too side tracked and just wanted to get back to the damn story.
While the character building option was nice, it was fairly limited. Overall though the characters through out the game were made very well, and I definitely enjoyed interacting with various characters from the Penny Arcade strip through out the game. You also get to pick up some support characters along the way who can add a pretty decent twist to any battle.
The overall price and replay value are pretty weak. I played through this game 3 times to earn all of the trophies, but could have easily whittled it down to 2 play throughs if I hadn't missed a music piece (damn my impatience!!). Still I was able to pull it off in about 15 hours. The game itself costs a whopping $15 on the PSN, so I only garnered about an hour of play per dollar. That is pretty tolerable, but pales in comparison to other games on the PSN that come in at the $10 price tag. I'm not going to bitch too much about $5, but there really is no replay value at all once you net all of the achievements and this title is easily erased from the HDD once completed.
Art/Graphics- 1 star
Story/Setting/Characters- 3/4 star
Music- 1/2 a star
Gameplay- 3/4 star
Investment/Replay value- 1/2 a star
Total- 3.5 stars
While not a Square Enix production, Hothead games and Penny Arcade definitely team up to create a pretty decent game. Don't pass it up if you have an extra $15 and a weekend to burn. It will keep you busy for at least that long, and hot for the next episode.
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