|System: X360 (XBLA), PC, MAC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Hothead Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Hothead Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 29, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
The highly popular Penny Arcade webcomic has been making readers laugh for many years, with its sarcastic brand of humor revolving around all things geeky and gaming. Earlier this year, PA co-creators Jerry "Tycho" Holkins and Mike "Gabe" Krahulik tread on new ground, by unleashing their first episodic video game in the four-part series loosely based on characters and themes found in the comic. The outrageous, lengthily named Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One was a delightfully twisted entry into the ongoing saga of the realm of New Arcadia. Fans of the series will be very pleased with how things progress in Episode 2.
This month marks the 10 year anniversary of Penny Arcades premiere debut, and its good to see the comic and its various peripheral ventures still going strong. With the recent launch of the second episode in the Penny Arcade Adventures, what better way to celebrate? Hothead Games stylish implementation of the Holkins and Krahuliks malevolently hilarious design aptly caters to fans of the comic, tabletop role-playing games, video games, and gamer culture alike. For those with even a passing interest in such subjects, Episode 2 will not disappoint.
In the series, the town of New Arcadia, set in a quirky, 1920s steam-punk-inspired universe, is beset by the unholy plans of four evil gods and their assorted, ridiculous minions. Each episode revolves around the haphazard exploits of the Startling Developments Detective Agency comprised of Tycho and Gabe themselves which you hesitantly join to do battle against the forces of darkness, discover clues to unravel pieces of the heinous plot, and eventually face off against each of the malicious deities in turn. If you dont have a character leftover to import from the previous episode, you can create one from scratch by picking from a selection of body types and minute details. As before, its pretty amazing to see how the game then magically incorporates your characters image into the comic-book cutscenes and the actual gameplay itself.
Previously, the story kicked off with an enormous, steam-powered Fruit F*cker crushing your home, which leads into your introduction with the SDDA. The gloriously bizarre ensuing series of cases drop you into a wild journey through dangerous territory infested with vile hobos, satanic mimes, swarms of mini Fruit F*ckers, and worse. This leads up to an epic face off against the demonic mime-Cthulu always a good time. Episode Two picks up another branching chapter in the story that stands alone pretty solidly for new players but also incorporates some tidbits and nods from the previous adventure. Rejoining Tycho and Gabe, your new quest begins following a massive baited attack of Fruit F*ckers. This pulp-spewing assault eventually leads to clues that shine some light on their origin, but to get there youll plod through the local sanitarium, an unruly scientific convention of epic proportions, and the hoity-toity lands of the rich, among other locales and the unspoken dangers they contain.
Krahulik and Holkins provide the story and much of the artwork for the game. Expect to run across much of the same flavor of content found in the comic, only on a more grandiose, story-driven level. The story is still riddled with witty gamer humor and numerous nods to favorite PA jokes and characters. Despite the omnipresent scatology and the frequent profanity spewing from every aspect of the design, the tale itself is highly intelligent and engaging. On the visual front, the cel-shaded art direction continues to impress, and the new areas and foes are intriguingly detailed. Its good to see the team recycled only the necessary graphical content from the past episode and focused more on bringing many new areas and adversaries to the forefront.