Anyone who has been following the gaming web-comic scene will have at some stage heard of Penny Arcade.
Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade do several weekly comics posted to their site, and which are usually quite hilarious. But I am not here to give my two cents to the web-comic, but to their new game titled On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, which is new to Windows, Mac, Linux and importantly for this review, the Xbox LIVE Arcade.
This is only the first title in what will become an episodic series, making the game something like an issue of a comic book, with more episodes to come over the following years. This is a unique game with a combination of RPG and puzzle/mystery/adventure elements which remind me of titles such as Monkey Island and Grim Fandango... crossed with Sherlock Holmes. But at its core the game is an RPG through and through.
The game starts with an amusing character creation system, which will allow you to sculpt the masterpiece that will follow you throughout the game, as well as the future episodes of Penny Arcade. For some people, this will be half the fun, however the game begins to give you a real taste of the humour that is set behind all the actions and you will be wanting to see for yourself.
The game starts out with a disembodied voice (the narrator) introducing you and your house, in your perfect street, in the midst of the 1920s. Just after the narrator commands you to do something about your lawn as it is looking rather awful, your house is crushed by a gigantic robot. Hot on the tail of said robot are Gabe and Tycho from the ‘Startling Developments’ detective agency.
Of course in your rage the natural thing to do is chase after this mechanical monstrosity. In doing so you meet up with Gabe and Tycho who you then join. Without giving too much of the story away, this is where the action really begins, and you will find yourself battling a range of enemies whilst uncovering interesting and exciting curiosities all around the world. The aim obviously is to take revenge on this giant robot, and of course, to find a new place to live (I can recommend the Shit Hole).
Much like in old point and click titles, interacting with objects will result either in their destruction and your looting them, or some witty remarks. The humour is very clever but definitely not in your face. Something that got a good chuckle out of me was when I interacted with a certain trash can in your suburban street: “This can is full of cats. They’re cool, they seem to be having a good time.” The game is simply full to the brim with this kind of humour, and the game's merits are really based around this. You’ll find yourself pulling hair and collecting urine as you traverse the wacky world that has been put together in Penny Arcade.
There are also a range of diverse and equally amusing NPCs in the game who provide substantial entertainment. You definitely don’t want to skip the conversations, as these are essentially what make On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness so funny and entertaining. That and the incredible art style that Gabe and Tycho (real world Gabe and Tycho) bring to a video game which really brings the world and the characters alive.
The range of enemies is limited, but they are incredibly fun to watch and to battle. My favourites are the Fruit Fuckers who essentially do just what their name suggests. Tiny mechanical 'bots that go around air humping until they see a piece of fruit (an orange maybe...) and then simply go crazy all over it. It's bizarre, it's out there, and damn is it funny. Or the crazy mimes that you battle and trap in invisible boxes, or the homeless people who won’t hesitate to brawl with you.