Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 [that is a long title] continues the adventures of Gabe and Tycho after nearly four years since the second game was released.
Zeboyd Games have taken over the development for the game and have gone in a different direction for the look and feel of the game. For the Precipice of Darkness 1 & 2 [when it was developed by Hothead Games] used a comic book style for the game. Precipice of Darkness 3 (and 4) has gone with the 16-bit Japanese role-playing game (aka J-rpg).You do not need to play the first two games, as Tycho brings you up to speed by giving a general overview about the first two games during the game’s introduction.
There is no voice acting involved in this game, the personalities of the characters still shine clearly through the writing of the dialogue. The interplay between Tycho and the somewhat less intellectually inclined Gabe is hilarious that will cause you to crack up at times.
The earlier games had a character that represented you, but in Penny Arcade’s episodes 3 & 4 your character has been removed. Your character’s departure from the series is addressed by Gabe and Tycho with a lack of appreciation (although humorous). In the beginning of the game you are accompanied by Tycho’s niece: Anna-Claire who forces her way into your party. She leaves rather quickly, as she only accompanies you for the first chapter of the game. In majority of the game, you are joined by a skull in a jar called Jim and Moria a private eye who is revealed to have been Tycho’s ex-wife.
Actually, you do find out what happened to your character (dubbed as Hir) in the Beginning of the End. It serves as a prologue to the events of Precipice of Darkness 3, but the game recommends you playing it AFTER you finish playing the main game. I do not really see the difference whether you play it before or after the main game. I played it after the main game as it suggested but now I am just wondering why they insisted upon that since it mainly serves as a bridge between the events of the second and third episodes.
The game is set in the town of New Arcadia. The game does not allow you to wander around the town to explore. The (world) map itself is linear by forcing you to follow a set path, with the exception of nodes that may branch although some nodes serve as a point where there is a mandatory conversation between party members. The further you progress into the story of the game, the more locations open up.
Once you enter inside the location, you can move freely unlike the map. Despite the large levels, there is not much opportunity to explore. All paths will eventually bring you to the next level or boss fight. Although I do encourage you to try look around the entire level as there are treasure chests to be found that may give you a new weapon or item. Otherwise you could just keep rushing through enemies.
The game is very combat-heavy which I find a shame since I was left wanting for a bit of variety in the game. The dialogues became a welcome break from the fighting. I cannot recall clearly but I think episodes 1 & 2 had a semblance of puzzle solving although combat still had a heavy emphasis. Regardless, the story and goals will keep you engaged and the combat system is amazingly well-done.
While the idea of the combat system is not original was still immensely enjoyable. The combat is turn-based, you use the game menus to issue commands to the party members when their turn has arrived. Depending on the speed of the party member, some will have quicker attack times. Similar to the Child of Light game that I played back in July where you can see where everyone is at on the timeline; both enemies and allies. Luckily, some of your party members (mainly Moria) have skills that can interrupt enemies, forcing them back in the time-line.
Therefore considering your party member’s various skills is important, and use them to your advantage. You rarely will be able to fight enemies and slaughter them within a few attack commands. Some of the battles will be very dragged out, like the last bosses in particular….and that crazy coliseum boss. Those were painfully long battles that made me question my will to live.
Sometimes in battles, you may be given a special battle condition which affects the entire battle. Some of these will be to your benefit such as giving enemies weakness to a specific element (i.e fire) or regenerating magic. Other times, it may be against you by lowering your party’s stats or buffing the enemies.
The party members do not level up in the game, rather it is their classes that level up and allow them to use more devastating/beneficial skills. Each member will have a default class (i.e Gabe’s default class is Brute, thus most of his Brute skills are physical attacks) that cannot be changed. They however can be assigned an extra two classes, giving them a total of three classes. These extra classes come in the form of pins, and those new classes give the members access to new skills that are only accessible to that class. A new site opens up in the map, that is a cathedral of sorts and you can look at the pins’ history by looking at their statues. I never managed to level them all up to level 40, as you need to do that if you wish to try the free DLC that comes with the game.I am really bummed out about that actually. I couldn’t figure how to level my weaker pins (all level 38) to level 40. I was so close….yet so far. Perhaps someone can tell me if the DLC was any good?
Despite Zeboyd Games changing many things about the series’ which deviated from the first two episodes, I was pleasantly surprised to find out how wrong I was about my concerns about the game. I was concerned that it would not feel the same since episodes 1 & 2 left a very good impression on me. The new direction towards the 16-bit JRPG worked remarkably well. They kept the beloved humor and personalities of the characters intact (which I am forever grateful for). Even the enemy descriptions were funny to read, even if it did offer a little too much information than I care to know. I do wish that the game could been less linear but it did not detract from the experience. The massive spike in difficulty was something I was unprepared for at the last boss fights, but the journey was definitely worth it. Shame I could not start the DLC but I tried by fighting the insanely hard coliseum boss but it didn’t level those pins up, except for the pins I mainly used on my party members.
The game is rather cheap ($5.50SGD) and the bundle for episodes 3 & 4 is about $9SGD. I highly recommend you guys try this game out for yourselves, it is a fantastic experience and is very moderately priced.