Platforms: Linux | Mac | PC | PS3 | Xbox 360
For those not familiar with the series; Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rain-Slick Precipice Of Darkness is a light RPG based on the long-running Penny Arcade webcomic. Set in a twisted steampunk/Lovecraftian-style version of the 1920s, you join the comic’s two main characters as they battle evil both supernatural and technological. Fortunately, the etiquette of the period has failed to curb their foul mouths and casual disrespect for everything sacred, ensuring that the game is consistently funny and imaginative. Combat is a straightforward turn-based affair with the typical item use, basic attacks and button-mashing special attacks. Action-oriented gamers may find battles somewhat lacking, but they keep the player entertained and provide plenty of opportunity for additional humour.
PAA:OTRSPOD Episode 2 sees you return to the sleepy town of New Arcadia. Having dispatched the heinous mimes and their ancient god of silence, you rebuild your destroyed home – only to have it demolished once more. This plunges you into further misadventure with Tycho, the shotgun-wielding doctor of ‘apocalyptics’, and Gabe, the brass-knuckle-wielding master of ‘pugilistics’. The colossal Fruit, uh, Fornicator responsible for so much havoc in the first episode is still at large, and its origins are now the subject of your investigations. A new assortment of foes awaits you – inmates from the Cloying Odour Sanitarium, homicidal upper-class couples (beware the fur-ocious Mink Stole attack!) and pompous scientists armed with horrendous puns. There are more puzzles to be found, too – these are generally easy to solve but provide a monkey-and-canapé-scented vehicle for the story.
The core game mechanics are unaltered in this new episode, but there have been some minor changes. While these don’t quite address the slight lack of depth, they serve to distinguish the game from Episode 1. Each character has a new weapon to keep things interesting, the attack charge-up mini games are different (which comes as a bit of a relief), and it is now somewhat easier to block opponents’ attempts to damage you. You are able to import your character from Episode 1 if you wish (along with much of their inventory), and the difficulty will scale up accordingly. Alternatively, you can create a new persona that will start at a respectable level. The story is mostly self-contained – there are a few ties to the first episode, but nothing significant enough to prevent newcomers from enjoying themselves. There is also a new Insane Mode, available after you finish the game, which presents a significant increase in difficulty but also grants access to Insane chests which are locked the first time around.
Overall, the humour is broader than in Episode 1, and will appeal to more players. While this is still primarily aimed at the fans, bearing many in-jokes and references, you don’t have to be a long-time reader to laugh out loud. Episode 2 builds on the strengths of its predecessor, and is an excellent game. If you’re after some high adventure, loony battles, and deranged entertainment, PAA:OTRSPOD-E2 is for you – take up your lucky D20, flex your button fingers, and tread the whispering dark.