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Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One - Play It
Does anyone really need a review to tell them whether or not to play the new Penny Arcade Adventures series? I'm not saying that because it's guaranteed to be a good game. It's a must play title because Gabe and Tycho (Mike and Jerry) have been some of the most outspoken, blunt, and often vulgar game critics of the decade. Even if the game is an absolute bust, the impending explosion would be worth watching and experiencing. I'm sure many of Penny Arcade's harshest critics (most likely those who worked on games they have torn apart so mercilessly) were some of the first in line to try Precipice out. My guess is they ended up quite disappointed.

As you can gather from the last two words of the insanely long title, this is the first game of an episodic series. While $20 may seem like a lot to spend for a single episode of a game, I didn't hesitate at all. In fact, I strongly considered purchasing a brand new 360 Elite just so I could play it on my TV. Sanity did take hold though, so I picked up the Mac version from

The game itself is a mix of point-and-click adventure game mechanics and turn-based RPG-like battles. Neither of these implementations are especially flawless, but they make for a very entertaining mix that I hope to see other game designers play with in the future. The battle system is extremely active and stressful. Not only will enemies continue to attack you while you are thinking about or setting up your next move, but if you don't hit the space bar at precisely the right time when they initiate an attack, your characters won't defend themselves in any way, thus resulting in quick and frustrating deaths. That's not the only thing that requires strange input methods either. Each character's special attack involves a strange mix of fast fingers and fast vision to input. All of that doesn't even account for the clicking required to select your action and target. I actually found myself trying to cheat the system using custom mouse and keyboard settings. By the end though, I was slaughtering mimes and hobos with the greatest of ease, and enjoying every minute of it. I think the early frustrations only increased the eventual satisfaction.

The puzzles required for the point-and-click aspects were less than complex. It may just be the part of me currently frustrated with Escape from Monkey Island talking, but I enjoyed the fact that I never hit a point of extreme FAQ requiring frustration. Whether you are collecting robot parts to upgrade your rake or seeking a toy ferris-wheel so that a crazy guy can pee on it, the zany tasks never failed to pull me in and keep me interested.

The Penny Arcade aesthetic and writing are what make Precipice a real winner though. While the character creation feature could have included a few more options, the fact that your completely custom character is seamlessly integrated into all 3D and 2D scenes throughout the game, including animated cut scenes, is impressive. It's such a great way of taking advantage of the relatively simple presentation that the complexity of other games would never allow for. The writing is purely Penny Arcade in every way. The almost satirical over use of vulgarity is oddly charming. I laughed out loud when the first innocent bystander dropped the F bomb when describing the giant robot. I bet a lot of otherwise wholesome people would have a similar reaction if a huge oddly shaped robot stepped on their neighbor's house.

On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness is definitely worth a play through. While the price point may seem high for a single episode, you'll easily get five or six hours out of this game, which is actually a pretty good proportional value by current game standards. I can't wait for the next episode.

Note: All of the screens below were taken by me and show my custom character.
By Mike on June 29, 2008 at 11:06pm EDT Topic(s): play it? games penny arcade adventures: on the rain-slick precipice of darkness: episode 1 pc mac xbox 360

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