Diving back into a 16-bit RPG isn’t something most gamers want to do but those who have patience and enjoy comedic games really should. Penny Arcade's Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode 3 is finally out after four years since Episode 2 came out. Made by now-popular indie developer Zeboyd, Episode 3 returns to continue the story that left off with Dr. Blood turning into a mortal in order to find and destroy the Necrowombicon.
As I said before, this is the third episode in a series. While it would cool to go back and catch up on the story, it really isn’t necessary as long as you keep an open mind on enjoying a great RPG by an underestimated developer. Anyone wanting to check out a game that never really gets dull while entering back into an old school Final Fantasy-esque title should check this game out.
Classic RPG Presentation - So many people are nostalgic for classic Japanese RPGs thinking they’ll love them as they remember them. The truth of the matter is that RPGs from the 90’s never end up being what we remember them as. The evolution of the genre punishes gamers for trying to go back but brings better experience for new titles.
For those people who want to go back and play a 16-bit RPG, Precipice of Darkness 3 is a great place to explore the art and music stylizations. In classic 16-bit fashion, the music in the game is straight from an 80’s style electric piano and the characters are all sprites. Using keys from three octaves, the game keeps true to the era even in the smallest of ways while emitting a mood that prepares you for the action ahead. While the battle music seemed slow, it kept me concentrating on the end goal of winning each fight.
Modern RPG Mechanics & Gameplay - The core gameplay of Precipice of Darkness: Episode 3 is similar to that of 16-bit Final Fantasy titles. With an automated leveling system infused with a multi-class system, it’s simple to progress in the game keeping it fun and entertaining without seeming too easy for classic RPG fans.
The battle system is a traditional Active Time Battle setup giving players the ability to inhibit enemies from attacking, boosting their character's attack speed, etc. Unlike typical RPGs, your special ability points are gathered by the turns each character reaches making high cost abilities rarer than lower costing abilities.
Hilarious Writing & Characters - When playing RPGs, for the most part they are very serious and straight to the point. Let’s face the facts: most of the role-playing game development market is over in Japan and Japanese developers take their stories very seriously. America is less tense when it comes to entertainment and this game is a perfect example of this situation.
In what would seem to be a serious situation, jokes and call-backs are made to keep the player entertained between segments of the game that would traditionally seem intoxicatingly dull. The game continues Gabe & Tycho’s adventure of destroying creatures that would threaten their world. The story is completely optional as the only time that you’ll have to wait for a story-based scene in the game is just at the beginning.
DON'T TOUCH THE EXHIBITS
Preset PC Controls - Yup, my only complaint about the game is the controls. As I have a wireless Xbox 360 controller, I can’t easily plug my controller into my computer so I had to go with the default keyboard controls. You can use the traditional arrow keys or the WASD letter keys to control the movement of your characters or navigation through the menu. The ‘button’ keys are right below WASD so it creates an awkward control interface. Others might disagree but I’d rather play on a controller similar to the NES or SNES controller in order to get a more accurate and nostalgic experience.
After playing Penny Arcade's Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode 3, I’m fully confident in saying that anyone interested in playing a 16-bit styled RPG should check it out. While this is a very niche audience, those who might get a kick a game like this will most definitely have a blast taking down the enemies in the streets of Arcadia. Get your controllers plugged into the computer now or wait until it comes to Xbox Live and start playing!
*This review was based on the PC version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*