If you play videogames, then odds are you know about Penny Arcade, at least in some fashion. Whether it’s their industry skewering comic-strip, involvement in PAX, or no holds barred website, love ‘em or hate ‘em, Penny Arcade is an institution in the industry. A little while ago they decided to put their money where their mouth is and actually make some games themselves.
The first two Penny Arcade Adventures came out a few years ago and featured everything the creators of the website are known for: irreverent and goofy humor, an unabashed love for games, and a strange cast of characters. Now with a different developer, Zeboyd Games, the Penny Arcade guys have gone in a different direction stylistically while retaining all of the oddball charm we’ve come to expect, and brought the third chapter in the series to iOS. Gabe, Tycho and the other members of the Startling Developments Detective Agency all seem right at home on our little devices.
Ah yes, the old “mystical doorway on a floating continent” bit.
If you’ve had the pleasure of playing the first two games, then you’re going to notice the differences in part three right off the bat. Gone is the hyper-stylized 2D artwork, and in its place is some seriously retro 8-bit artwork that’ll bring back those old snuggly feelings from playing RPGs on your Nintendo. This should come as no surprise, as Zeboyd Games are the madmen behind the soon to be cult-classic, Cthulhu Saves the World. The combination of Zeboyd and Penny Arcade seems so obvious now that it’s a wonder it hasn’t happened sooner.
So what has this unholy alliance wrought? Well you play as the aforementioned Gabe, Tycho, and friends as they attempt to discover what powerful and dark magics have befallen their beloved town of New Arcadia. You’ll travel all across the immense town through museums, banks, skid-row, and portals to alternate dimensions. Joining Gabe and Tycho are their pals, fellow Gumshoe Moira and a turtle in a jar named Jim who really likes to bite people. And if you thought the enemies in Cthulhu Saves the World were weird, wait until you fight against a tap dancing T-Rex in a tuxedo or an old stove that wants to burn you with coffee. New Arcadia, it seems, is smack dab in the middle of a H.P. Lovecraft story gone horribly, horribly wrong.
The streets are also rain-slick.
Just like Cthulhu Saves the World, Penny Arcade is fairly linear. While New Arcadia is a massive town, you only gain access to different parts of the map after you complete certain quests. While this may seem limiting, and it is, luckily the various locations are all really expansive with all kinds of nooks and crannies to explore and secrets to discover. And the game is actually fairly long. You’ll easily get about 10 hours of gameplay, and more if you explore every place in New Arcadia.
The combat system is where the game really shines. Battles are designed to be swift, but there’s a whole lot of strategy involved and fights are way more involved than it’s retro graphics would lead you to believe. Different characters and character classes all bring something unique to the fight. Finding the right combination of skills, timing and special abilities can be a massive amount of fun and is sometimes crucial to your success. If you’ve ever wondered when is the right time to unleash a plague of rats on an enemy and then bum-rush them, this game will help you answer that question.
Time for a second extinction!
Adding to the game’s awesome battle system is its equally immersive class system. Much like the jobs system from the Final Fantasy games, Penny Arcade allows you to assign different classes to your characters. They all have really unique and fun abilities that add to your strategy and all have a massive effect on how you play. You can be things like gardeners, hobos, prophets, slackers or elementalists. And that’s just a small sampling. The different classes level up with your base class, even if you’re not using them, and the best part is that you can swap classes at will whenever you want. We found mixing and matching and figuring out the classes to be the most fun aspect of the game.
Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 is a Penny Arcade game through and through. Their bizarre sense of humor and rambling dialogue may turn off some of the more ‘serious’ minded gamers. But everyone should really give this game a shot. The story is awesome, the characters are great, and everything about the game exudes fun, imagination, and a deep love for the genre. There’s very little about this game we didn’t like, and whole heck of a lot that we did.