Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 review

Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 review

Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 review

If Robert Boyd’s games are love letters to the JRPGs of his youth, they’re missives written in shorthand. Boyd’s collaboration with the eponymous webcomic is akin to a 16-bit Final Fantasy on fast-forward: progress is swift, battles are briskly paced and grinding is nonexistent. As with Cthulhu Saves The World, the journey may not last much longer than seven hours, but Rain-Slick 3 covers as much ground in that time as games five times its length.

Its smartly assembled battle system may be its greatest strength. A command bar queues up player and enemy turns, though speed buffs and interrupting moves can reshuffle the order. It’s an idea that presents some intriguing tactical opportunities even before a flexible job system significantly broadens your party’s moveset. Characters can adopt multiple roles using badges which can be swapped in and out at any time, and there’s a delightfully outlandish selection to choose from: a Gardenar [sic] can release bees which deal light damage over several turns, while the Dinosorceror pin can temporarily transform the caster into a Velociraptor or Triceratops.

There’s a pleasingly wide range of enemies to fight, from bank tellers to overgrown insects to a T-Rex in a tuxedo. They’re often inventively named, too: a truncheon-wielding police officer is introduced as a Baton Rogue. However, though there’s plenty of sharp wit here, the story is indulgent in the extreme, meshing leaden humour with pseudo-Lovecraftian mythology. Thankfully, the pace shouldn’t slacken too much for impatient players: though Gabe and Tycho’s interjections are frequent, dialogue is skippable. Besides, if this collaboration helps Boyd’s work reach a wider audience, perhaps the occasional indulgences from its creators are worth tolerating.

Xbox 360 version tested.