In the 4 years since the first two installments to On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, a lot has changed in the world of video-games. They look better, the cost more to produce and if you’re digitally downloading most games, they cost more to buy. Perhaps it’s appropriate that the creators of a comic-strip that dissects and criticizes the video-games industry decided to hire out a small independent game developer to produce a 16-bit RPG that would be produced on a modest budget and cost less for consumers than the amount of change that most people have in their pockets at any given time. What is absolutely appropriate is that Episode 3 is one of the funniest 16-bit RPG’s you can play this year, and perhaps ever.
Episode Three picks up immediately where the previous games left off, but although this is the third entry in the series you need not have played the first two games; the story develops pretty well from where this episode begins with just enough exposition to fill in all the major narrative blanks left behind by the previous adventures. In short, Tycho Brahe and Johnathan “Gabe” Gabriel are supernatural detectives investigating the re-occurring appearances of 4 prophesied Gods hellbent on the destruction of the universe. With two of these deities already vanquished they search the Lovecraft-ian world of New Arcadia for clues as to the plans of the next God. The story is rich with absurd narrative touches, with asides asserting that Tycho only wants the Gods destroyed so he can ensure the apocalypse takes place correctly and with Gabe paying no heed to the mind-bending implications of events.
It’s almost a shame that Episode 3’s mechanics are nowhere near as interesting as its plot. Whilst the fairly basic turn-based combat is rendered competently, the functions never really excel. A part of this is because instead of traditional systems which involve carrying items from battle to battle until they’re used and discarded, you’ll keep them throughout the game with each battle providing an allowance for each item, with any used items or lost health points being replenished at the end of every battle. It’s certainly a capable system that doesn’t take especially long to get used to, but it renders most of the game incredibly easy; only a few specific battles to prove maddeningly tough, arguably because the game has at no point prepared players for a difficulty spike.
Despite those few issues On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode 3 boasts plenty of accomplishments, from an entirely appropriate score, to a beautifully muted 16-bit (and occasionally highly contrasting 8-bit) presentation and enthralling writing that starts funny and only gets better when the ridiculousness keeps piling higher. If you’re a fan of retro-gaming, this may not be the pick-me-up you’re looking for, but for fans of Penny Arcade or sharp humor, it certainly will be.
“Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode 3″ is available to purchase on Steam now and will be coming to Mac, Xbox Indie Games, iOS and Android later this year.