Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 Review for PC

Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 Review for PC

Finally, An Old School RPG That Doesn’t Make Me Blow In The Cartridge First

It’s been almost four years since the guys over at Penny Arcade have released an episode of their Rain-Slick franchise, which I suppose is understandable considering that the original developer bailed on them in 2009. Someone once told me that you need a video game developer to develop video games, and I guess this sounds reasonable.

Well, Zeboyd Games decided to hop into the Penny Arcade saddle last year, and I must say that the results are pretty entertaining, albeit somewhat surprising.

Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 Screenshot

Obviously, I’m mostly talking about the graphical style and gameplay. Fans of the previous titles will no doubt be slightly bewildered by the new direction, but if you’ve touched an RPG at some point in the last 20 years, you should have no problem making the adjustment.

Many of you are probably already familiar with Zeboyd ‘s previous work. They’re the crew behind Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World—both of which are throwback RPGs with a comedic bent, developed in a 16-bit style. Their catalog is quite refreshing, actually.

Now, I understand if my referring to a throwback title as “refreshing” confuses you, but before you flood the comments section, let me explain.

Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 Screenshot

See, the 80s and 90s had their fair share of iconic role-playing games—these were the genre’s formative years, after all—but each of them has a unique set of quirks that instantly dates it by today’s standards. Broken sprites and getting tangled in jagged textures were par for the course twenty years ago, but times were tough back then. And gaming has evolved.

Well, Zeboyd has somehow managed to capture most of that old school RPG charm, but also mixes in some exceptionally intricate gameplay and a sophisticated combat system. Rain-Slick 3, then, becomes something more than a simple retro-RPG, though I’m not exactly sure what that something is.

If we were living in 1993, I would probably tell you that Rain-Slick 3 has some of the more impressive graphics on the market. But I’ve seen Crysis 3, so I’m not going to say that. However, Zeboyd has done a good job of taking the essence of those SNES-era RPGs and rolling it into a game that has a retro look and feel but comes from a more modern thought process. Plus, if you’re one of those people who won’t play a game unless it puts your video card through its paces, you probably don’t have many followers on Twitter.

Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 Screenshot

The Penny Arcade creators took a pretty gigantic risk by letting Zeboyd get behind the wheel of their franchise. See, when the previous Rain-Slick episodes were in production, the creators hand-picked Hothead Games because they thought Hothead would be able to capture the same look and feel that their infamous online comic was known for. But when Hothead flew the coop a few years ago, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, the duo behind Penny Arcade, were able to let go of their original vision and embrace this new direction.

Even though I genuinely loved Rain-Slick 3’s art, I would be lying if I said that it has a storyline of any kind. It’s more like a series of jokes glued together by monster battles. I mean, technically this is one of those RPGs where you where you can get away with repeatedly tapping the A button to fast-forward through all of the dialog, but if you do, you’re missing the point entirely. Yes. This game has a pointless and incoherent storyline, but, just like the Penny Arcade Comics, Rain-Slick 3 is just trying to make you laugh.

However, whatever plot it does have picks up where the previous title left off. Tycho and Gabe have just finished dispatching a god, and are once again accepting clients at the Startling Developments Detective Agency.

If you didn’t get a chance to play either of the previous titles, don’t worry about it. Taking a few minutes to tour the Detective Agency will give you all of the back-story that you need. In fact, here are the only two pieces of information that you really need to know: 1. Tyco spouts incoherent Lovcraftian social commentary. 2. Gabe punches stuff.

There. Now you’re caught up.

However, unlike the plot, the combat system is deceptively complex, and those of you who played Grandia on the PlayStation/PS2 may have a leg up on other players. The game is definitely turn-based, but it also includes an action bar that displays the order of character action. Some characters move more quickly than others or have the ability to increase their speed, which means that as the round progresses, they could skip ahead of other players/enemies in the order.

Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 Screenshot

This may sound like an elementary change, but it has a pronounced effect on every decision that you make during the battle sequences. You suddenly find yourself trying to dodge their attacks with clever timing or figure out ways to push yourself ahead in the order.

And to further complicate things, Zeboyd has added what they call “Class Pins” to the mix. It’s basically a secondary skill tree that allows you to level up a number of attacks and spells.

Actually, the class pins are a primo example of one glaring problem with Rain-Slick 3; there is a major emphasis on humor over gameplay. As you collect the pins, you have the ability to equip them, but their titles are frustratingly nondescript. There’s no way to know what kinds of attacks you will gain (if any) until after you’re actually in battle. Considering how well-thought-out the rest of the combat system is, it almost seems like an oversight on the developer’s part. I’m sure it was all done in the name of comedy, but that doesn’t make it right.

I’m not even going to comment on the controls. If you’ve played an SNES, you know how to play this game. And if you haven’t played an SNES, your dad will probably enjoy this game a lot more than you will, so just hand the controller over to him. Besides, his life has probably become sad and lonely, so just give him this one thing.

At the end of the day, Rain-Slick 3 is good fun. Plus, even if you’re on the fence, the game is only five bucks. How can you go wrong?

Every game should be 16-bit. 5.0 Control
Simple, yet complex. Perfectly suited for the game type. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Just like every SNES game ever made. 4.0 Play Value
Surprisingly deep considering that it’s based on an Internet comic. 4.2 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Zeboyd’s stylized 16-bit pixel visuals take inspiration from all-time classic menu-driven RPGs.
  • Gain power with a unique multi-class job system!
  • No experience with Rain-Slick 1 & 2 necessary!

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