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

By Jeff Mattas, Jul 23, 2012 9:00am PDT

Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 chronicles the ongoing adventures of detectives Tycho Ephemerous Brahe and Jonathan Gabriel as they attempt to recover a book of mysterious power known as the Necrowombicon. The tome is stolen from the duo's offices by the nefarious Dr. Raven Darktalon Blood, and it's up to the scholarly intellectual and enthusiastically-violent man-child (and their friends) to get it back.

Before we get neck-deep in the critique, I suppose I should begin by confessing that although I played a bit of the first two 'Rain-Slick' installments (developed by Hothead Games), I never finished them. While I certainly dug the presentational style and humor of the first two games, their combat system left me a little cold, due in large part to their requiring the player to choose a strategy and select moves against a timer. On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3, however, goes the most welcome route of 16-bit classics, in the same vein as Zeboyd's other RPGs, Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World, thanks to Zeboyd.

It turns out to be a design decision I really liked, removing the reflex-based nature of previous titles in lieu of a more thoughtful combat experience. Each battle in the game plays out like a puzzle, focused on discovering and exploiting the weaknesses of the game's multitude of enemy types, while exercising a big swath of (often very funny) character class abilities. As battles wear on, enemies grow stronger, so there's a real focus on defeating the bad guys as efficiently as possible. Each battle is also a contained affair, and the health of members of your adventuring party will restore after each victory.

Despite being the third installment in an ongoing series, On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 can still be thoroughly enjoyed by fans of the Penny Arcade web comic (or retro RPGs) without prior experience with the series. The game's script, co-authored by Zeboyd Games' Robert Boyd and Penny Arcade's Jerry "Tycho" Holkins, does a brilliant job of capturing the comic's edgy, referential humor. In a game where players will be reading their share of expository text, the positive effect of great writing can't be understated. The humor reaches every corner of the game's text, from enemy descriptions to the quest logs.

The game's underlying systems are also solid. Class Pins can be collected along the way and assigned to each party member, providing a welcome degree of party customization. The different class-types are also quite odd and fun to use. Though some classes--like 'Brute' (physical) and 'Elemenstor' (elemental magic) class--are fairly self-explanatory, other classes like Gentleman, Hobo, Slacker, Crabomancer, Dinosorcerer, Delusionist are quite fun (and funny) to play with. Each class' abilities expands when leveling up, and exploring each one's newfound abilities is pretty darned entertaining. As with the story though, I'm hesitant to spoil much more, because they're both elements that are a much more entertaining to discover for one's self.

The game does end a bit abruptly, but the ride to get there is full of laughs and strategy. Not surprisingly, the game also leaves things open for the fourth and final planned installment of the series--which Zeboyd Games will also helm. An iOS version and an Android version of part 3 are also in the works, which I expect will play a lot like the recent iOS port of Cthulhu Saves the World, since the presentation and structure of the two are strikingly similar.

Fans of Penny Arcade humor, Zeboyd's previous games, and/or old-school RPGs should definitely check out Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3. It's a well written comedy with some interesting combat scenarios, and while it won't win any 'flashiest game' awards, I enjoyed the romp it provides enough to look forward to the final chapter.


[This review of Penny Arcade's Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 is based on a final PC version of the game, provided by Zeboyd Games.]

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