In 2008, PA creators Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins took the leap
from culture commentators to creators, collaborating on Penny Arcade
Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. A downloadable title, it
featured the turn based-combat of an old school RPG and the whimsical, text-based
narrative of an adventure game. Meant to be an episodic adventure, a sequel soon
followed, but then the precipice grew darker. Would there be a third outing for the
Startling Developments Detective Agency? The fans wanted it, and were further
enticed when PA scribe Hulkins began posting the script to the unproduced third
adventure. In the forums, Zeboyd Games was suggested as a possible developer
for the third game. Possibility quickly became reality, and now Penny Arcade’s On
the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 is set for a July 10 release on
Xbox 360 and Steam, with a Mac, iOS and Android release swiftly to follow.
This third outing is rendered in 16-bit glory, a style Zeboyd is
known for. It looks like, and plays like, a Final Fantasy game from the Super
Nintendo era. However, those games were not blessed to have Holkins as a
writer. His signature wordy wit can be found in everything from the dialogue to
character descriptions. Taking the game for a test drive, we fought foes ranging
from lewd robots, with names too rude to print here, a Mime-o-pus, the insidious
spawn of mime and octopus, gender-neutral Cavepersons, plus multiple forms of
vicious hobo. Box Dwellers were shaggy-bearded fiends, whose cardboard
encasement provided extra defense, and the description for Rail Riders proclaimed
them to be “proud poli-sci majors.”
It’s not all just styling, there was meaty turn-based combat as
well. As the levels progressed the challenge increased, and strategic deployment
of character abilities became an absolute necessity. Gabe, the brawler class,
got a heavy damage bonus when using the aptly named First Blood as a lead-off.
He also had a move that ignored an enemy’s defense, perfect for sundering a Box
Dweller’s brown armor. The tried and true mantra became end a battle as quickly
as possible. Enemies tended to dig in and grow stronger by buffing each other.
If you fail to take out a mage-enemy before he can buff his zombie allies, your
team is in for a world of hurt.
you say? You’ll be bringing more than just the two PA boys to battle. Early in
the game Anne Claire, Tycho’s “uber-niece,” forced her way into our party in
typical tagalong fashion. We also teamed up with Jim, a skull-in-a-jar curiosity
with necromantic powers, and Moira, a red haired gumshoe who shares a sordid
history with Tycho. Best of all, your party all walks along in a neat little
line, à la any classic RPG.
Our time with the latest PA adventure gave us a lot to look
forward to. A heady mixture of nostalgia and cutting-edge humor, a mere $5 price
tag seems downright charitable. This is a downloadable we can’t wait to
download. July 10 is the release date for PC and Xbox only. The game will
initially deploy on Steam and XBLA, with a Mac, iOS and Android release to
follow at a yet-to-be-announced date. Also, Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick
Precipice of Darkness will be a SteamPlay title, meaning one purchase entitles
you to both a PC and Mac copy. And to that fan in the forums who suggested
Zeboyd Games, we salute you, sir/madam!