Strictly speaking, it’s not necessary to be a gamer to enjoy the long-celebrated webcomic Penny Arcade for its irreverent humor, cartoonish illustration, and brilliant dialogue. By that same logic, it’s also not necessary to be a veteran gamer to enjoy the first of the video game series Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness.
Episode One of this series is a dark comedy dieselpunk RPG featuring our two heroes, Gabe and Tycho, and the player’s own customizable character. Through 3D-style gaming (based on the same format as the Final Fantasy games) and 2D-style dialogue inserts (in a lovely homage to the webcomic), you take up arms against an army of Fruit Fucker robots, hobos, clowns, and sinister mimes. And in the final boss battle, you get to take on Cthulhu. With a pair of fists, a machine gun, and a rake.
By far, this is one of the most challenging and rewarding gaming experiences I’ve ever had. It’s a testament to Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik that they’re experienced enough to design their own game, while also daring enough to make fighting hobos and orange-raping robots into a serious proposition. I will say that I did have some trouble getting used to the RPG style of combat, but that’s mostly due to my unfamiliarity with RPG video games. I also tried hard to collect as many robot parts as I could to keep upgrading my team’s weapons, and for whatever reason, the Fruit Fucker fights seemed less available around the second half of the game, which was when I needed them the most.
All in all, I love this game on the same level as I love the Portal games. I won’t just purchase and play anything. I want my experience to be a challenge as well as witty and entertaining, and this game succeeds on both levels.
Stay tuned for my reviews of the next two episodes of On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness (God, how I love writing out that title).
On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One is available for purchase and download through Steam.
Bibliography: Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One. Developed by Hothead Games. Designed by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik. Release date: May 21, 2008.