Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4
System(s): PC (Xbox 360 coming soon)
Release Date: June 7, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Penny Arcade Inc. (Zeboyd Games)
ESRB Rating: N/A
I love Lovecraft’s weird fiction and noirish cosmic horror. I love the Penny Arcade webcomics humor. They’re both genius in their simplicity. And, obviously, I love games – or I would’ve found something else to fill a lot of my free-time away from education and work. So, you’d think that I’d love the Penny Arcade adventure series On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, and you’d be right. The reason is the fact that it is pretty much a Lovecraftian tale with the standard Penny Arcade humor in the form of a game. And now the fourth game of the series and its conclusion is out.
The precipice of darkness is here.
Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 isn’t all that groundbreaking if you’re familiar H.P. Lovecraft or any of the pulp weird fiction that he either was inspired by or had inspired. Private Investigators and the player get sucked into weird and maddening adventures and are eventually forced to confront a god or various gods. In this case, our (un?)fortunate duo are Tycho and Gabriel, some of the most recognizable faces in webcomics and geek culture. In the first game, you struggling to prevent the resurrection of the Silent One, the patron elder god of mimes. The second game details the fight against Fruit Fucker Prime (yes, seriously, that’s the name), avatar of the god Yog Kathak. The third game reveals a bit about the nature of the plan that Tycho’s family had set down to destroy the old gods to create a new world. It also covers a bit of a struggle against the god of doors, Yog-Modaign. It also ends on the same note that this new game opens up on, the end of most of the world. The only thing that still survives is Hell, in the forms of the Underhell and Overhell. It’s partially because there is still one last god to kill in order to create the world anew through Tycho’s niece who was locked away in another dimension to protect her from the end of the world in the previous game. That is the premise of the fourth game.
Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness is just a fun story arc to witness. There are some in-jokes for Penny Arcade and old school RPG fans, but the humor’s pretty intelligently done. For example, pretty early on in this chapter, there is a scene that ends up mimicking the Phantom Train sequence in Final Fantasy III/VI, only without the possibility of suplexing a train. It’s a memorable scene in both accounts and gets to be pretty funny by the end of this rendition of the Penny Arcade scene.
Entertaining, while it lasts
One of the things that On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 does incredibly well is instilling a great sense of nostalgia. After all, much like its immediate predecessor, its graphics are pretty old school, matching up with the NES and SNES JRPGs like Final Fantasy VI. If you love the look and style of the older games, this is pretty much spot on with what you’d want to see. It’s a nostalgic look at games that really shows how far the medium has come in a technical aspect.
The look of it is very well executed. One of the more interesting game mechanics is the way that combat is handled. It has a set up that’s a lot like Pokemon. Specifically, you build a party of monsters and they fight for you. Occasionally, you’ll also have certain characters jump into the fray, usually dead ones. If your party of monsters and demons fall, you black out and have to initiate combat again with your party of monsters re-healed. So there really is no game over if you screw something up. You’ll just want to hit hard and fast to end the battles quickly though, much like in other Zeboyd Games titles like Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World. The longer a battle goes, the more powerful your enemies get.
The only bad of Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 would probably be the length. For RPGs nowadays, the games are remarkably short. The first game itself had me finishing the game in nine hours while trying to do everything. The series is made of short games, though they have gotten longer (On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 is actually the longest game in the series) that feel like they can be built up more, but that’s not saying you’re not getting a lot of value for your money. You’re getting a lot of great humor, a pretty good pseudo-Lovecraftian story, and a genuinely fun game. It just makes you wish for more, since there are points in the games that can actually be expanded upon.
To slay an old god or not to slay an old god
That is the question. Is On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 worth your $5? I’d say yes, if only for the nostalgia factor. It’s a great deal of fun. It had me laughing before it was even time to actually get into any gameplay and the quirks and humor just grew from there. The story’s about par for some of the Lovecraftian end-time tales, but the beauty of that style of cosmic horror and mystery is that it can be done in a lot of different ways. While it could stand to be longer, it packs just the right amount of laughs, play and horror for the length provided.