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On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode One - first look

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It's been a long time coming, but the first installment of Penny Arcade Adventures - based on the snarky, game-industry-savaging webcomic Penny Arcade - is just months away from completion. If you've been paying attention to the game up until now, though, you'll already know that it has little to do with the strip's modern-day antics, instead re-imagining its characters as paranormal detectives in the creepy, monster-infested burg of New Arcadia. And you won't really play as either of them, but as it turns out, that's a big part of what makes the game interesting.

At first blush, On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness is an old-school point-and-click adventure - but unlike, say, the Sam & Max games, the action here doesn't revolve around picking up everything that isn't nailed down and using it on everything that is. Instead, Rain-Slick is much more action-focused, and you'll spend a lot of time smashing open crates and getting into turn-based, RPG-style battles with robots, hobos and other fearsome creatures of the night.

Before that, though, you'll need to piece together a custom character in 3D, who'll then show up during the game's 2D comic-art cutscenes exactly as you've created him or her. Once that's done, you'll be introduced to The Narrator, a disembodied upper-class British voice that almost immediately loses his concentration and orders you to rake the leaves in front of your otherwise tidy suburban home.

It turns out to be a waste of time, however; no sooner is the work complete than your entire house is flattened by the feet of a marauding, fruit-obsessed giant robot (we can't print its name here, but fans of the comic will recognize it instantly). It's followed immediately by the game's/comic's heroes, Gabe and Tycho, and you're left with no choice but to follow them and find out what's happening.

Of course, that's not easy; your formerly peaceful street is now infested with tiny versions of the house-destroying robot, which you can distract with fruit (found in the smashable crates) before pummeling them with your now-upgradable rake. The turn-based battles look to be heavily inspired by Final Fantasy, with your input limited to deciding what moves to bust out against your neatly arranged enemies. Each character's turns are on an individual timer, meaning that if you do nothing, your enemies will be able to slam you with attack after attack.

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