At PAX East I got the chance to sit down and try out Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice
of Darkness 3 with Robert Boyd and Bill Stiernberg of Zeboyd Games. Right off the bat, the game oozes an art style reminiscent of the classic RPG Final Fantasy VI, while at the same time maintaining a distinct Penny Arcade look and feel. Sprites for Tycho and Gabe are instantly recognizable, as are other characters from the comics. Taking a step out onto the world map from the game's various locales allows the player to wander around along paths on a map that will immediately remind players of Super Mario World. There's no doubt this game looks like a long lost Super Nintendo title.
The story is a continuation of the previous Penny Arcade adventures. However Bill and Robert assured me that those who haven't played the other games will still have no problem jumping into this game. Robert from Zeboyd and Jerry Holkins from Penny Arcade are collaborating on the writing. The thirty minute demo showed the early fruits of this combined effort, with humorous dialog, funny enemies including a "dude riding a walrus," and item descriptions that are sure to provide some laughs. The enemies shown in the demo included everything from familiar enemies from the previous games in the series such as mimes, to a large variety of new enemy types. These proved to be as clever and humorous as the writing.
As a change from Zeboyd's previous games, when wandering around dungeon-type areas you'll now see enemies on screen. These encounters are in pre-set locations, and stay cleared upon defeating the enemies. Continuing the similarity to Final Fantasy VI, the combat provides a similar view, with your party lined up on the right and enemies on the left. A handy turn order shows up at the top of the screen. There are even some Grandia-style attacks that can delay enemies, meaning turn order will play a crucial part in combat strategy.
Combat also provides some unique twists on classic RPG formulas. Characters begin combat with full HP, but no MP, gaining one MP per turn. Thus to use more powerful abilities players need to hold off on using special abilities to build up MP. Some battles start with special conditions, either negative or positive, such as status ailments or starting with full MP. These battles provide additional challenges in combat. Like Zeboyd's previous games, there will be several difficulties to choose from.
The game features a class system, with each character being able to equip up to three classes at once. In addition, the classes themselves level up, making it very easy to switch classes among the party. The initial class for each character will be unchangeable, meaning each of the game's characters will have access to unique abilities. Classes not currently equipped to anyone will even gain a fraction of XP. Unlike Zeboyd's previous games, there won't be the option to enter combat at any time for grinding purposes. However, there will be a coliseum area for grinding, with additional challenges provided as well.
Currently slated to be released this summer on iOS, Xbox Live, PC, and Mac, there appears to be plenty for both Penny Arcade fans and Zeboyd fans to look forward to. Zeboyd would also love to get the game on PSN, but currently there is nothing in the works. Be sure to stay tuned to RPGamer for more info on Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 as it gets closer to release.