Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness - Episode One
Available for Xbox Live Arcade and PC Download
This week’s game is an actual based on the popular web comic, Penny Arcade that has been commenting on the gaming industry and its faults since Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins created it back in 1998. And who better to create the perfect videogame than two guys whose entire careers have been spent critiquing videogames. So let’s put the guys from Penny Arcade in the hot seat for once with this week’s review of Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness for Xbox Live Arcade.
Truly I think you have to be a fan of the web comics to understand and enjoy the humour of this game, so if you’ve never read a Penny Arcade comic before, I suggest you drop this review right now, head to www.penny-acrade.com and set aside an hour to read the web comic from the very first panel. I think then and only then can you fully appreciate anything I am about to tell you about this game, so please read the comic first. If you are a gamer, you will thank me for introducing you to Penny Arcade and if you are a geek, you will add me to your face book account and sent me a long message thanking me for changing your life for the better. Trust me, the web comic is that good.
Penny Arcade Adventures starts off your gaming experience with a character creation screen where you can choose your gender, clothes, hair, colour scheme, etc., however your choices are limited to the story’s era, so your character will have no choice but to like an extra from The Untouchables.
Once you throw on your fedora, your character is thrust into a world of fruit-humping robots, dirty-minded clowns and zombie-like hobos, all of which you must battle along side your new two companions, Gabe and Tycho, owners of the Starling Developments detective agency, as you attempt to save the world from a cult of Mimes hell bent on bringing about the next apocalypse.
PA uses a turn-based system for normal & specials attacks as well as item usage during enemy battles and it incorporates a block feature to allow players to block enemies attacks fully or partially. The blocking system works perfectly when you understand how it works, but if you don’t, it can be very frustrating. Without being able to block, the game will suddenly go from a manageable level to it practically letting the robots hump you instead of the fruit.
The humour in this game was pure Tycho and Gabe and fans will be please to see endless uses of the guys’ pure brand of goofiness all over this game. It’s unfortunate that they chose to go with the 1920s detective genre in their plot, because it really killed any chance of seeing any humour directed at the gaming industry on a grand scale, but the game still managed to shine through with the key things we, PA fans, love about the series and I think that all we were really wanting out of these games anyway.
Instead of just sticking with the 2D look of the comic series, Mike and Jerry decided to incorporate some 3D modeling into the main game play which, while not as cool looking as the game’s 2D cut scenes, still managed to make the usual flat characters look pretty incredible. Best of all, while the art designers did a great job on beautifully detailing the 3D rendered environments and characters; they never lost sight on the original cartoon concept.
The sound was extremely well done in this game, and though I was disappointed there were no voiceovers for Tycho and Gabe, I was absolutely awestruck by the voice of the narrator. His deep and mysterious voice reading the poem at the beginning of the game was pure genius and I really missed him throughout the bulk of the game. The music is magical and very Danny Elfman like, so any Tim Burton fans in the house will love this game’s soundtrack.
Besides the annoying learning curve on the blocking system and the fact you have to fork out $20 (1600 Microsoft Points) for roughly an 8-10 hour game, I really can’t say anything bad about this game, except that it maybe lost on non-Penny Arcade fans. Otherwise, I highly suggest that anyone who loves the PA comics downloads this game, because for two guys who love to make fun of other people’s games for a living, they certainly know how to put their money where their mouth is.
Rating: 8 out of 10