Release Date: June 25, 2012
Developer: Zeboyd Games
Publisher: Penny Arcade, Inc.
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Xbox 360
New Old School?
Penny Arcade’s On the Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 (henceforth known as Precipice 3) is a lot of things. It’s a mouthful to say. It’s sometimes funny, infinitely more so for those who are avid fans of the Penny Arcade crew. It’s old-school to the core, and proud of it. And, sometimes, it’s fun.
It’s just a shame that the fun parts don’t happen more often.
Talk About Your $5 Mixed Bag…
Precipice 3 isn’t a bad game by any means, and there’s actually quite a bit that weighs heavily in its favor.
First and foremost is the game’s writing. Obviously, a game made by Penny Arcade’s Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik is going to share the same wit and charm that has seen Penny Arcade grow from simple webcomic into a media empire. Something like that doesn’t happen by accident. Like I said earlier, the game can be pretty funny in its own right, but for someone who’s been reading Penny Arcade for years there are no less than a million inside jokes that make it even more worthwhile. Minor characters that may have appeared in a strip or two often appear as enemies, while some of the more regular characters play roles more integral to the game’s story. Witnessing the comic come to life, and having it be pretty much what you imagined it would be, is Precipice 3’s greatest strength.
Next to that is the old-school charm that developer Zeboyd Games manages to infuse into all of their projects. Everything from the music to the sprites and even the combat feels like it was ripped right out of a quality 16-bit title. The sprites are intentionally blocky, but instantly recognizable Penny Arcade characters. In true old-school fashion, when it’s time to fight, your characters are shown as their normal pint-sized selves aligned to the right side of the screen, while the bad guys are larger, more detailed, and hang out solely on the left side of things.
The music is of the simple synthetic looping variety, and while it varies at certain parts of the game, Precipice 3 could have benefited greatly by having some extra themes to fight to. You see, as great as the writing in this game is, you’ll be spending the majority of your time fighting, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t give in to the urge to take my headphones off so I didn’t have to listen to that same fight song over and over and over again.
There is absolutely nothing high def about this game (although it does look just fine in full screen 1080p) and the sense of nostalgia you’ll feel from the moment you load it up makes you feel instantly at home – if your metaphorical video game home was built on a foundation of 8- and 16-bit games. If you’re a late bloomer, or, you know, young, then it’s quite possible that Precipice 3 won’t feel nostalgic, but rather simplistic.
The fighting in particular starts off interestingly enough, but after a while you fall into the same old routine, and you find that you don’t need to change it for any reason. The same battle plan works whether you’re fighting an entire group of monsters or just one big bad boss. Sure, there’s a certain charm to be found in the fights as well, such as the descriptive text that accompanies the monsters you’ll be fighting, the class pin you decide to equip, or the skills you constantly use, but that charm wears off after the first several times you see it. After that you’re left with a menu-laden fighting system that doesn’t hold water when compared to the rest of the game. And unfortunately the majority of your 8-10 hours with the game will be spent in that fighting system.
Penny Arcade Fans Will Find a Lot to Love
It’s a testament to Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik that I wish there was more depth to this game. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse when I say that the writing is awesome, as is the art, but the simple fact is that you’ll spend much more time fighting battle after battle than dealing with either of the aforementioned. It’s not that the combat is bad, but after a while it gets decidedly repetitive, and shortly after that it gets downright boring. I found myself slogging through fights, not because they were fun, but because I wanted to see where the story would take me next. And while that’s true of pretty much any game, the great ones disguise the repetition so it doesn’t detract from everything else.
Still, if you’re at all a fan of Penny Arcade, then you owe it to yourself to play this game. You’ll find more than enough of the content you love to justify your $5 purchase, and for as mundane as the fighting gets, you’ll appreciate all that Zeboyd has done to see that Penny Arcade finally got the game that they deserved. Precipice 3 feels much more Penny Arcade-y than either of Hothead’s attempts, and hopefully they’ll spruce up the combat a touch for the game’s inevitable sequel.
Score: 7 /10