Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness Episode 2 (PC)

What is this? More Lovecraftian mayhem and giant robots in the land of new Arcadia?
Read my review of the latest installment of the adventures of Gabe and Tycho over at Square Go.

On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode 2

3/5
On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode 2

With the first segment of this four-part game series now firmly established on Steam, XBox Live Arcade, and recently the Play Station Network—and having sold like hot-cakes in each case—it should come as no surprise that the second episode is now available.

And what a return it is! Continuing after the close of Episode One, you find yourself homeless, and once more left with no option but to team up with Gabe and Tycho in their quest to thwart the evil machinations of the Fruit-F**ker Prime and the dark Gods behind it. From there, it’s business as usual. You traipse between several bizarre locations trying to solve the peculiar mysteries and ultimately face off against the Giant Juicer and its master.

Having learned from the criticisms of the first game, Hothead has carefully tailored the combat and interactions to fix known faults.  Blocking incoming attacks is now easier: the word ‘block’ appears rather than the confusing flash of white used previously. The special attacks are more evenly balanced and varied, with simpler minigames letting you deal out maximum damage. Pushing the envelope a little is the inclusion of a shock-therapy minigame—which criminally can’t be played separately—and several deductive puzzles.

The story has also been smoothed, but now lacks a main focus. The hobos and mimes of Episode One have been replaced by psychotic madhouse patients and Upper-class rich twits.  However, there is a more interesting character arc, as we delve deep into the past of Tycho Brah and his family’s history of occult dealings.  There is also the option to load a previously played character from your first game on the XBLA edition, giving you the continuity of the same face without having to touch the character editor.  This addition is a steal at the reduced price of 1200 ms points.

The comedy, although even darker this time round, is still brilliantly written.  Even the occasionally lengthy conversations are interesting, bracketed by frequent animated cut-scenes that give a flavour of fun that was sadly underused the first time round.  As before, this sort of darkly black comedy may not appeal to everyone, especially since a good portion of the plot involves killing the mentally ill. The counterpoint is that it still seems more style than substance when it comes to the storytelling.

Overall, this is a decent sequel and any fan of the original would be well justified in laying down their money-pounds to play out the continuing hilarity.  Just don’t expect a more rounded experience, as it’s still just as inane and bizarre as the first game, and just as refreshing for it.

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