Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 is the finale to a series I have enjoyed immensely. Alas, all things must come to an end. Penny Arcade 4 continues on from the events of where Penny Arcade 3 left off with its cliff-hanger ending. There will be a wonderful and delicious mix of pop-culture references, wacky & tongue-in-cheek humor, plot twists and a good dash of nightmare fuel to bind the game together.
Penny Arcade 4 also keeps the 16-bit RPG style seen in its predecessor, with more focus on character customization and options. It will feel a bit like Pokémon and confusing at some point, but that’s okay!
Unlike Penny Arcade 3, you do not fight the battles but instead have Underhell monsters who do the fighting for you. For those who played Penny Arcade 3, the battle system is the same fashion with a new twist. Just imagine yourself as a monster tamer and you’ll get the idea pretty quick. Each monster has their own special attacks and depending on their ‘master’, will gain the master’s special attack and passive skills. This allows you to explore different monster/master combinations. You can also buy/find equipment throughout the game to boost the various stats of your monster companions.
Did I mention you end up in a place called Underhell that is totally not Hell at all.
Thankfully the inactive monsters also gain experience at the same rate as the active party, so there is no major level gap to worry about. You can even swap the members in and out easily while out of battle. If you want to swap monsters in-battle, you need the switch item to do so. It will also take up one turn. Even better is that all the items regenerate to their max value, based on how many upgroids you have. “Upgroids” basically increase the number of times you can use a particular item by one extra use.
Yes, there is an ice-cream cone monster you can get for your team, even a vending machine monster. Heck, there is even Cthulhu if you can find his ‘hidden’ temple. While you get most of the monsters through the story-line, there are secret monsters for you to find and will join your team if you can beat them. I am happy to report that I did find all the secret monsters and recruit them. Only to not use them that often in the end. Actually I cannot remember what my last monster line-up was. Whoops.
Sometimes the game will have nightmare fuel as their villains. Thankfully some of the enemies have hilarious customized descriptions. I actually read the enemies’ descriptions before the battle to see what they say. Best thing ever. It does help break up the repetitiveness of the game, as battles in 16-bit do suffer from monotony after some time. Another good thing is if you do lose a battle, you do not lose much progress at all. The game just spawns you back to where you were before before engaging the enemy that defeated you. Of course you could save anytime you want too. I normally saved when I was done playing for the day, or when I wanted to explore other areas that wasn’t related to the main story. Or just wasn’t sure what was going to happen.
Hyperduck did a phenomenal job for the soundtrack, it was a great joy to listen too. The only thing that saddens me is that you can’t really fine-tune to volume of the game. You can only choose volume pre-sets and was either too quiet or too loud for me. Regardless, you should go and listen to the soundtrack! I wish I had the soundtrack but I don’t.
–insert sad face here-
Speaking of sadness, you know what also saddens me? The fact you did not have an options menu accessible in-game at all. You had to have all your options set and ready in the main menu before loading your game up. Otherwise you had to save, quit the game then relaunch it.
Before I was upset about the series discontinuing then changing direction in episodes 3 & 4 from the first two Penny Arcade games. Since then and playing all four titles, I have to admit that the change of graphical design for the game worked out a lot better. The 16-bit RPG just felt like a better fit for the game, rather than the 3D mixed with 2D cinematic. Needless to say, I think Zeboyd did an amazing job with episodes 3 and 4. They even managed to replicate the style and game-play of a retro RPG, and be successful with it.
The game’s pacing begins slowly before picking up the pace rather rapidly as you reach closer to the climatic finale. However there are times where I wondered if I was near an important plot point of the story because the game world was just so expansive. So many places to explore and enemies to battle. Those moments were far and few in-between, so it was not all that bad.
The game wraps up its own story and for the entire story neatly, leaving no plot holes with an ending that is bittersweet and satisfying. As someone who played all four Penny Arcade games, I can truthfully say how much I was grateful for that.
I definitely think people who are fans of 16-bit RPGs will enjoy Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4. For those who got this far in the Penny Arcade series, I recommend getting this game and finishing it. It is extremely cheap, at about $3 USD. It is a short game despite the large world map and you get closure for a great series. Worth every dollar.