Jun 11, 2008

Penny Arcade Adventures - Episode 1: On The Rain-Slick Precipice Of Darkness. Uhm, the demo.

Penny Arcade Adventures episode 1I could just tell everyone to immediately go and grab the demo of the rather verbosely titled Penny Arcade Adventures - Episode 1: On The Rain-Slick Precipice Of Darkness, for it is an excellent and truly funny demo, but, frankly, I'll try not to be that lazy. Well, not again that is. I will instead attempt to elaborate; convince you even of the greatness of the thing and humbly suggest you should probably buy yourselves the full version. It is after all available for everything a PC gamer could care for: Windows, Mac, Linux and Xbox 360.

Oh, and please do bear in mind that I've only tried the demo -not enough time/money those last few days I'm afraid- of the game and thus can't comment on some issues other reviewers have mentioned, such as Penny Arcade's rumored lack of length. Hopefully, I will eventually get to play through the full version -and appropriately comment on such grave matters, though, and in case you really have to research before investing your 20$, you'd better have a look at a few professional reviews. Anyway. On with the rant.

The first thing I have to admit, is that the Penny Arcades Episode 1 (hence PA) demo is a thoroughly successful demo, as it both manages to show off every key aspect of the game and leave you wanting for more. And where I say wanting, well, I mean craving.

So, what's so great about it? For starters, it's a game by the Penny Arcade duo with the assistance and direction of the great Ron Gilbert. It is thus a genuinely funny, beautiful and well designed offering. What's more, the thing's innovative too. And starts you off with the creation of your wacky in-game persona in 3D, which impressively also spawns a 2D version of itself to be used where appropriate (i.e. cutscenes). Here's a crude example:

On The Rain-Slick Precipice Of DarknessMultidimensional cartoon visuals aside, PA is an interesting and highly playable RPG/adventure hybrid, that manages to let gamers explore, fight and wade through Monkey Island-esque dialog only with their mouse and the space button, in what must be the most impressively intuitive new interface I've encountered the last ten or so years. The fact that said interface is presented to you via an in-game tutorial of sorts, that is seamlessly integrated with the core game, and even sports an utterly hilarious voice-over, does help quite a bit too.

Then again, the humour, acting quality, art-direction and of course the artwork itself are constantly impressive throughout the demo (and its stunning cutscenes). Touches of Gilbert's properly interactive humour are also apparent, even though this is something that is mostly based on the Penny Arcade sort of jokes and situations. I love them, but that's a personal thing.

Further satisfying aspects of the demo -and apparently the game- include a lovably absurd Lovecraftian plot, a ton of little touches, excellent gameplay mechanics, a quasi turn-based combat system that actually works, a thousand things to click on, fantastic dialog and what I (and shockingly the developers) refer to as The Office. That is the hub where a ton of unlockables (movies, LPs, etc), bits of info, case-files, collectibles and... err... the game-map can be accessed. Have a look, I'll have some sleep instead:

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Stalin vs Martians, DeathSpank, The 2007 AGS Awards, Rex: a ZX Spectrum classic


  1. If they were only as funny as they seem to think they are, dear Gnome, I'd be more interested. Sorry for my lack of enthusiasm.

  2. Well, as I said, my friend, it's a matter of taste really. PA humour isn't everyone's cup of tea. Same thing with Mr. Bean. So, well, I guess the lack of enthusiasm is understandable. Tea?

  3. I'm pretty far into the full game, and as a Penny Arcade fan I love it... great pacing, fantastic humour and a nice fighting system...

    my only gripe is the 3D graphics... I'd really have prefered them to stick to the fantastic 2D animation (The excitement when you see your homemade avatar pop up in a cutscene for the first time is brilliant). Maybe that's just me and my 2D ways...

    But yeah, a great game.. fork out the money and play it all Gnome...

  4. Mike! Lovely hearing from your game developing self again! And I'll probably follow your advice too, even though admittedly I too would have preferred an all 2D game.


  5. Welcome back Gnome! :-)

    I've been thinking about having a shot at the demo (on Xbox Live) but I'm not a massive fan of Penny Arcade - I just don't really find it funny. Most of the comics lately are really boring and my RSS feed is just filled up with crappy news posts I don't really want to read.

    Great write-up though!

  6. Never truly left dear Tom... just was (unfortunately still am) a bit on the incredibly busy side of things I afraid. And do give the demo at least a try just to make sure though...

  7. Well that's another demo I've just downloaded to be clogging up my hard drive... thank God it's worth it!! Well done again dear Gnome!

  8. Glad you enjoyed it dear Father!

  9. I'm with Dane of War and Tom... I don't particularly enjoy Penny Arcade. Your post makes it sound like the demo might be worth a quick download though...

  10. Definitely is dear ross...