Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 is Zeboyd Games’ continuation of the Penny Arcade RPG series started by Hothead Games in 2008. It’s been a full four years since the last installment and finally the franchise has returned, benefitting from an all new developer and a completely different retro style.
Zeboyd Games (of Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World fame) has brought all the style and humor from their previous games to Penny Arcade episode 3, and it’s become an even better series for it. Rather than the previous cel-shaded 3D graphics in the first two installments, Zeboyd went with the 16-bit style they’re so popular for, and have really given the series a better sense of character. The cel-shaded style of the two former entries was very reminiscent of the Penny Arcade comics, but Zeboyd’s 16-bit tried and true style lends itself very well to the series and helps to create an overall package where everything works well together and all the pieces compliment one another.
PA3 has retained the series’ turn-based combat, but received numerous upgrades and tweaks. As with Zeboyd’s previous games, the combat system in PA3 is a take on classic turn-based RPG combat that relies heavily on a timeline and manipulating the flow of battle via order of enemy and ally turns, nearly identical to the battle system in the classic Grandia series. Another interesting addition in episode three is the implementation of a job system, very much like that of Final Fantasy V. Each character starts out with an assigned job, and as the game progresses they’ll be able to take on multiple roles simultaneously, making for very deep and tactical combat.
Penny Arcade episode 3 follows the same story and features many of the characters from the previous two entries in the series, but not everything was retained in the developer transition. Rather than allowing the player to create their own character to play as throughout the game as Hothead did in the first two episodes, Zeboyd instead introduces a couple new characters that will be present in the party alongside Gabe and Tycho. Even though there’s the loss of a personal player avatar, the characters Zeboyd introduce are interesting and play well off of the two main characters (Gabe and Tycho).
Penny Arcade episode three is the best in the series, thanks to Zeboyd’s decision to go retro, the humor they’ve brought, and their implementation of a deep, tactical battle system that adds layers of technicality and possibilities. Fans of the previous games in the series and old-school RPG fans will have a great time, and newcomers will be able to jump in and enjoy with no problem.