Penny Arcade's On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3, with its film noir-ish moniker, may have the most pretentious title since Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, but like most of the tone of the game, it's completely intended. The game continues the adventures of the scholarly and intrepid Tycho Ephemerous Brahe and his loyal sidekick Gabe. The pair investigate evil doings in New Arcadia, and along the way different members join their party to help them on their journey. Fans of a 16-bit universe should gravitate to Tyco's missions, and RPG enthusiasts looking for depth and biting humor in their narrative will also be pleased.
The game starts off with a real cool optimization feature, as you can play Tycho and Jonathan as regular dudes, females, or even furry animals. As head of The Startling Developments Detective Agency, Tycho has faced a string of strange creatures and offbeat villains. After retrieving a mysterious phone call, Tycho plays the tape for his niece Anne-Claire, who decodes the message and joins the group to fight a group of mimes and other dastardly evildoers in Pelican Bay.
If fighting mimes and crab monsters are completely unexpected, the biggest plus of the game is the writing. The storytelling, filled with rich and intentionally bombastic dialogue, pulls you into Tycho's adventures, giving it a huge advantage over a generic, turn-based RPG title.
A game usually doesn't stand on wit and sarcasm alone, and it's actually difficult to move about New Arcadia without getting into fights within seconds. There is a built in D-pad on the left of the screen to move about the town, but to fight you simply use the tap screen to thwart your enemies. Since Gabe's the muscle of the group, one of his spells is a fireball. Tycho, whose scholarly pursuits places him as a better strategist, has a spell titled 'Full Auto' which attacks everyone in front of him. Hit points are refreshed at the end of every battle, and each skirmish earns the crew experience points and money for the requisite weapons upgrades.
If you simply exit your adventure and go to the title screen, an arresting and slightly melancholy score plays in the background, and although it's just one of the many aspects to love about the game, the creators have ensured that each little detail isn't ignored. Although the visuals harken back to the earlier days of gaming, one shouldn't take a 16-bit world for granted. Tycho's trip to a local museum offers up an eye catching juxtaposition of colors.
Keeping track of the characters is also easy, as a break down of your items, as well as a recap of the various chapters are available in an in-depth status menu. A tally of the accrued money is also accounted for along with such comments as the following, "Our spritely heroes currently have $725, which they will probably spend on schnitzel."
Although it's crafted as a mystery, the thrill of Penny Arcade's On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 is just wandering about New Arcadia and watching the story gradually unfold before you. Some of the best stories are tales you simply don't want to finish, since everything that comes before is simply sublime. It's that very sentiment which seeps through Penny Arcade's On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3, an RPG which uses big words amidst lofty ambitions, and succeeds.