Episode 4 is a fitting way for Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness to end.
Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness saga is finally coming to an end with Episode 4, having changed developer hands once along the way, and going off on many wonderfully ridiculous tangents at regular intervals. What hasn’t changed throughout, however, is the focus on quality storytelling, and hilarious storytelling at that.
Episode 4 begins with the Penny Arcade team falling into the depths of the Underhell. Having been split up and finding themselves in awkward pairings, your journey revolves around meeting back up, and finally ridding the world of evil. As you’d expect, there’s plenty of distractions along the way, and you’ll want to savour each and every one of them.
That’s because, as with the rest of the series, Episode 4 of On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness iswonderfully written. I’m the sort of player who will usually hammer my way through dialogue in RPGs, as I tend to find lore and the like dull and not to my taste. Not so with this series – the text is snappy, clever, and regularly caused the corners of my mouth to curl up.
It’s not just the story that is great either – every element of the game, from the enemies that you encounter, to the moves that you learn and reproduce time and time again are just so brilliant. Even if you’re not a huge RPG fan, you’ll want to push onwards simply to see what silly enemy you’ll be fighting next. Notably, you don’t really need to know about the Penny Arcade world to enjoy the story in this game.
Connoisseurs of the series will be glad to know that most of what they’ve come to expect is still intact, while newer players will enjoy the spin it puts on the classic RPG format. Precipice of Darkness focuses on challenge over grind – that is, rather than throwing tons of fights at you one after the other, there are less battles than you’d usually be used to in an RPG, yet each one is very much “a thing,” rather than feeling throw-away.
You’re constantly thinking tactics, magic, which monsters to take out first etc., and it stops the game from feeling too grindy (although it does inevitably begin to happen after a few play sessions). The battling system is back too, with characters fighting based on how quickly they move along a bar at the top of the screen.
There are some notable differences between Episode 3 and Episode 4. This time around you’re battling monsters, sort of Pokemon-style (but very vaguely), and the overmap allows you to walk around in whichever direction you want to discover hidden secrets and optional side-dungeons. Those people who simply want to move along the linear path can still choose to do so.
Relatively speaking, however, it’s very much more of the same; the old school visual style and lovingly-crafted soundtrack complement each other charmingly. The pacing isn’t always well and good, and certain dungeons and areas tend to drag a fair bit. Some of the overmap areas aren’t so much fun either – a lot of villages, for example, feel completely dead bar for a few characters, and you’ll no doubt want to dip your head in, see what needs to be seen, and head out again.
Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness Episode 4 is a fitting way to end the series, and will be the ending that fans of the franchise were hoping for. If you’re a fan of humour in video games, this is a series you’ll want to check out.