On The Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness Episode 1
|Penny Arcade Adventures
Every now and then, critics in domains where criticism is due decide to show they’re not all talk but actually able to create some of the stuff they badmouth others for not being able to do properly. Some good example of this would be, let’s say, Umberto Eco, who basically thought he had read everything, so he presumptuously, one might think, started writing himself. The result of that is not something I’m going to describe here, suffice to say it was good, shit, there’s even a movie with Sean Connery after one of the books, and he almost won Mister Universe once, so that’s cool.
Much like in the example above, the guys over at Penny Arcade, after years of making a living from taking the piss out of game makers, gamers and of course, the games themselves, decided to make one of their own. When I started playing the game, I had expected it to be something that’s for PA fans alone to savor due to the webcomic’s way of being the type of thing you either love or hate.
For years now Penny Arcade has been building a steadily growing audience with which they share their interests in video games and penises, up to the point where I am really waiting for them to change name to Penii-Arcade already. Turns out that they have actually created a game that’s enjoyable by everyone, even if you like the comic or not. Little to no compromise has been made to that end, like for example there is no mature filtering of any kind, to make sure that the signature dialogue is un-tampered with. So to anyone reading this that’s not a PA fan, maybe a little background on these guys is needed.
Much like how horny teens dream about becoming porn-stars in order to get paid for what they want to do most, Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins also had a similar dream, which they are now living out. No, they do not get paid to masturbate, they earn money playing videogames, and writing the odd comic every now and then. Much shit is going around the internet about these guys, how they’re unattractive sociopaths with egos the size of a 70 years old sailor’s prostate, but fact of the matter is they still make a living out of video games, they each have one kid, proof that someone had sex with them at least once, and more recently, have their own game. I guess you really need to check www.penny-arcade.com if you’ve never done so until now.
A fancy word for ‘balls’
Back to the game at hand, it’s a RPG kind of like Final Fantasy, with beautiful cartoonish graphics and hilarious 2D movies, a striking oddity if you consider that now everything is in 3D, but it obviously makes sense when you watch them, they’re strips with motion, the kind you sometimes make up in your head when reading the webcomic.
Set somewhere at the beginning of last century , in the mystical land of New Arcadia, On The Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness starts with you, an average Joe, cleaning up your lawn with your rake, only to have your house stepped on by a giant Fruit-Fucker that seems bent on smashing stuff. The evil red glow in the giant robot’s eyes makes it obvious that fruit is not the only thing this mechanical rapist is out to fuck, and as it fades into the horizon, two strange individuals are chasing the damned thing.
Turns out they’re the two members of the Startling Developments Detective Agency - Gabe, who ‘once fought the devil’ and Tycho, with a masters in the apocalypse. Love at first sight between the player and these two guys, who team up to beat the shit out of the weirdest enemies in order to solve the mystery of the giant robot.
With back-office guidance from Tycho’s lovely niece Ann-Claire, the trio sets out to gather clues about the giant robot and the overall suspicious activities that have been going on in Hobo Alley, a shitty neighborhood festering with bums and mini-fruitfuckers, and the Pelican Bay, some sort of an amusement park full of clowns, mimes and tenors or whatever those dudes with small round hats playing the accordion are called. Actually these are the two main locations where you will be spending most of the time. The other three are the agency’s office, Ann-Claire’s room and the starting location, Desperation Street.
Moving around in between locations is not time consuming at all – the player can travel to the office from wherever he/she may be at the time, and from there the world map is available to send you to whichever destination you may chose. Saving is also possible at any time during the game, which seems to be something more and more noteworthy these days.
Gabe facts: When the inventor of the steam-powered pickle jar opener presented his creation, Gabe punched him in the face. No steam-powered pickle jar openers have been recorded in known history after this event.
The fight itself is a lot of fun, turn-based without the possibility to pause in between actions, which maybe would have made more efficient use of the combat time, but still it’s neatly tuned and balanced so even noobs such as myself had no trouble making proper use of the available system. There’s a roll for initiative, and the highest one gets to move first, then the others follow, based on their individual speed stat.
Each character has their own type of attacks, ranging from normal hits to special moves, usable items such as explosives or oranges to distract fruitfuckers, and summonable support characters like a cat, Ann-Claire or a modified fruit fucker, who has the beautiful ability of blowing up in a shower of cute stars and hearts and rainbows, dealing damage to all enemies on screen.
The special attacks of the player’s team members are performed by either rapidly pressing a button (Gabe), pressing a button at the right time, several times in a row (the player) or pressing the
direction indicated on the screen (Tycho). As these special moves get upgraded, performing them gets increasingly difficult. Killing an enemy with a perfectly executed special attack results in an overkill, giving the respective character a +1 damage bonus, which might not seem much, but it stacks to a noticeable amount if religiously repeated.
All attacks have a small chance to crit and can be blocked by pressing the right key at the right time, which is very important, because a successful block dramatically reduces the damage, while a perfect block means no damage taken and a counter-attack is performed on the enemy’s turn. The actual fighting is hilarious, from the player hitting enemies with a god damned rake, to fruit fuckers peeing on you and mimes throwing imaginary stuff at your party.
After each fight, the characters are awarded experience, and as they gain in level, their stats increase and they unlock new special attacks. Ann-Claire can upgrade their weapons using parts collected from robots, and the amount of parts found in the game is exactly enough for upgrading all weapons to the max, so be sure not to miss anything. Also keep an eye out for various bonus stuff, like hidden concept art or audio albums. Collecting all the concept art results in the unlocking of a bonus comic. I have seen it, it’s full of throbbing cocks, as one might of course expect. Here’s a preview: 8====D
Do Concupiscent Machines Also Engage in Citric Sodomy?
I completed the game with the Windows client, but you can also play it on Linux, Mac or Xbox. I am pretty sure there are no differences in experience, except the input stuff, but the game requires no aiming or fast reactions or anything specific to either the controller or the mouse + keyboard combo, so basically whatever suits you most. The game also sports a graphics engine that is not pretentious at all, so performance will be very good even for people who still have 512MB of RAM and a Pentium III class CPU, for God knows what reason.
Personally I liked the fact that the game can run windowed, so I could move the mouse out of the game into my messenger, to call people fags and follow up on other equally pressing ongoing conversations on similar topics. Load times are small, performance is good, the game looks nice, and so on.
The action is nicely balanced, the beautiful story builds up to the point where you’re not only glad you’re playing the PA game, but are actually interested what twisted shit they will come up with next. It’s a lot of fun, and you can see the typical PA humor everywhere, from the dialogues to the info text on various objects and the names things got, like the Chinese restaurant Wang’s, or the balloon game called Flying Pricks.
Speaking of which, there are 3 mini-games available, one called Flying Pricks – popping balloons with darts, Vandalism – throwing rocks at bottles, and Balls and Holes – throwing balls in holes, hence the name. They have limited purpose in the game, meaning you actually only have to play them once or twice each in order to get the tokens needed to move on with the story, but I’m confident that much like myself, you too will play each of them over and over again.
Dreaming of Electric Cucurbitaceae
Overall, this first episode of the series of (apparently) four was highly anticipated by the Penny-Arcade fans, and it did not disappoint one bit. The game is as fucked up and funny as you would expect from these guys, with beautiful drawings, hilarious characters and a fascinating story that leaves you craving for more.
Priced at an honest $20 bucks, On the Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness ep 1 is a mixed investment. While digital delivery of digital media is obviously the proper way to do it, I was kinda hoping to get the game in a Divx box, or something, with some custom drawings or a D&D dice or something specific to the PA universe I was so eager to jump into. So, is this a good investment? Most likely. Is this a good game? Indubitably! Enjoy.
Demo Download On The Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness Episode 1