Sunday, June 9, 2013

Full Synopses of Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness Episode 1 and Episode 2

 I haven't written a review yet, but Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 is one of the best games I've played this year and one of the best RPGs in recent memory.  It's excellent.  But when I hear about it, one question always comes up:

Do I have to play the first three before I play this one?

The short answer is: probably not.  Rain-Slick 4 briefly recaps the first three games and then drops you in the Underhell to get on with your adventure.  But in case you're a gamer who prefers a thorough understanding of a series before you jump into a sequel (sometimes I'm that guy), Monsoon is here for you. I'll recap the events of the first TWO Penny Arcade Adventures games so you can get on with the third and fourth titles, which represent a change in direction and in presentation for the series. Sure, you could always check Wikipedia, but I'm doing this for me. Not just you.  

If you want to skip ahead, look for the big bold text breaks.  It's cool, I'm not offended.

Let's first talk about Hothead Games. They're a small game development studio probably most well-known for the Deathspank action RPGs, co-created with Ron Gilbert.  Those games were okay, and the two Penny Arcade games they made, co-written by Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade, were also okay.  But for whatever reason, Hothead and Penny Arcade decided not to collaborate on a planned 3rd and 4th game in the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness series (from now on I'll refer to these games as Rain-Slick 1, Rain-Slick 2, etc.). Rain Slick 1 and 2 were released in 2008.  In 2010, Penny Arcade and Zeboyd Games announced a collaboration to continue and finish the Rain-Slick series, with Rain-Slick 3 in 2012 and (hopefully) Rain-Slick 4 in 2013. Fast forward to June 7th, 2013 and all four Rain-Slick games are available on Steam and XBox Live.

So in this post I'll recap the two Hothead Penny Arcade games in detail, so you don't have to spend $12 on them and can get to the two Zeboyd Penny Arcade games.  I thought the Hothead games were decent, but the two Zeboyd games are excellent indie RPGs; they draw influence from Grandia and Final Fantasy and are priced at $5 separately, or together in an $8 package.  I love all four of Zeboyd's RPGs.  They're my favorite indie game studio and I will buy anything they produce on day one.

One final thing - these are Penny Arcade games.  They are full of characters, concepts, and inside jokes from the Penny Arcade universe and are more rewarding for fans of the comic, even though its setting is totally different from the comic.  Remember, Jerry Holkins, Penny Arcade's writer, co-wrote all four games. Penny Arcade's artist, Mike Krahulik, contributed some art assets to the first two games, but ultimately wasn't a major part of the design process of any of the Rain-Slick titles.  So that's enough.  Let's do this! 


Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness - Episode One

Four Gods wait on the windowsill
Where once eight Gods did war and will,
And if the gods themselves may die,
What does that say for you and I?

Rain-Slick 1 opens with that ominous quatrain, one of four total.  The completed poem, The Quartet for the Dusk Of Man, has been shared within the Brahe family for generations. The Brahe clan are well-known scholars of the apocalypse, and have been preparing for the end of the world for hundreds of years (in an unusually scholarly manner), which has earned them nothing but ridicule.  The current heir of the Brahe name is Tycho Brahe, who runs the Startling Developments Detective Agency with his violent, less-intellectual friend Gabriel. 

Rain-Slick 1 opens in a suburban neighborhood in the 1920s, where a mild-mannered resident is tending to his or her garden. That resident is You, the main character of Rain-Slick 1 and Rain-Slick 2 (henceforth known as the MC and referred to with masculine pronouns). The MC's name, sex, and appearance is created by the player.  Suddenly a giant Fruit Fucker robot stomps by, smashing the MC's house and running off into the distance.  Shortly after the MC begins to give chase, he meets Tycho and Gabe, who are also seeking out the giant robot.  Tycho believes that it is one of the Gods from the poem, and that the end of the world is nigh.  Agreeing to team up with Tycho and Gabriel on the condition that they helm him find a new home, the MC grabs a rake and joins the team.  Gabe (faster than the MC / deals less damage) fights with his fists and Tycho (slower than the MC / deals more damage) wields firearms.

Gabe, Tycho, and the MC return to the Startling Developments Detective Agency and introduce Anne-Claire, Tycho's brilliant young niece, who's a talented inventor and the apple of Tycho's eye.  After consulting with Anne-Claire, the trio search the surrounding town for parts of the giant robot that might hint at its location. The town of New Arcadia is rife with deadly hobos and smaller versions of the giant Fruit Fucker robot; eventually, our heroes locate a hidden Fruit Fucker factory located under an apartment complex called The Shithole. The MC had briefly considered getting an apartment there until the discovery of the factory.

The factory is run by a cult of mimes who worship Yog Sethis, The Silent One. Yog Sethis is one of the four remaining Gods on the windowsill, and the cult is trying to bring it unto the earth.  Tycho and Anne-Claire determine that the god can be slain if the trio's rake, knuckles, and machine gun are treated with vacuum tubes, scorched hobo urine, and the soul of the mime cultists' leader. After thoroughly exploring Pelican Bay (a boardwalk and amusement park overrun with cultist mimes and fruit fuckers), the trio obtain the necessary items and challenge Yog Sethis, who resembles a towering Cthulhu dressed as a mime.  After Yog Sethis's defeat, the giant Fruit Fucker robot observes from a shore opposite Pelican Bay and then departs. A second verse of the poem is revealed, and it's time to move on to Episode Two. 

Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness - Episode Two

Now three Gods sit on the windowsill,
Where one God's blood was lately spilled
Black tongues lap at the spreading pool,
To build the strength they need to rule.

Rain-Slick 1 ends with a second verse of The Quartet for the Dusk Of Man and now we've moved on to Rain-Slick 2. The MC currently resides in a tent, which is soon destroyed by Gabe and Tycho's truck as they flee from a horde of Fruit Fuckers.  Reunited with their former companion, Gabe and (mostly) Tycho explain that they have found the creator of the Fruit Fuckers, which might lead to more details about the giant one that destroyed the MC's house.  Said Fruit Fucker architect, Jonathan Crazoir, is imprisoned in Cloying Odor Sanitarium, the same insane asylum that once held Tycho's father and grandfather. 

Before the group investigates the insane asylum, Anne-Claire asks that they find a number of items: five bolts of spider silk thread, a 14mm golden bolt (different kind of bolt), a truck engine, and a molecule of Energite. The group gets the golden bolt early on by using a gilding machine on a 13mm bolt, adding a millimeter of diameter as well as a level of opulence. Before entering the Sanitarium, the group has to make it past the building's receptionist, who has very expensive taste in gifts (they get the flowers and money she wants by defeating the foppish residents of New Arcadia's wealthy quarter, where they found the gilding machine earlier). When the group finds Dr. Crazoir, he promises to give them everything they need (plus a Monkey Card, whatever that is) if they can free him. Before they can do so, the Sanitarium's director Dr. Wolfington captures and imprisons them, after injecting all three with hallucinogens.  

The MC breaks free from his mental state with the help of an imaginary cat and imp (Twisp and Catsby, respectively), and then proceeds to rescue Gabe and Tycho. After the trio make it past some orderlies and defeat Dr. Wolfington, Crazoir gives them a Monkey Card and reveals that the blueprints for the Fruit Fucker (originally "Harvest Buddy") were stolen, likely by a person using the moniker "M". They locate M's apartment in Riverwood Estates Apartments on Rich Motherfucker Street and proceed there, after giving Anne-Clair some spider silk (from some giant spiders in the Santarium cells) and a truck engine (from the truck Gabe and Tycho crashed into the MC's tent). 

The group briefly encounters Charles DuBois, a rival adventurer, and the MC challenges DuBois for the right to rent out a vacant apartment in Riverwood Estates.  After defeating DuBois and speaking with the apartment's landlord, our heroes explore M's apartment to find a number of interesting items, including a Monkey Card and two books: The Black Ledger and the Omnibus.  Gabe then accidentally sets the building on fire, again depriving the MC of a new home.  

The ledger indicates that "M" will be attending the Symposium on the Future of Man, which leads the three heroes to a convention floor full of scientists, including the respected Dr. Krangle and the dark and brooding Dr. Blood.  While schmoozing with the scientists, the group discovers a robot monkey-fighting tournament with a molecule of Energite available as first prize. They win, thanks to their multiple Monkey Cards, and give the Energite to Ann-Clair, who leaves the detective agency to work on a new invention. Back at the Symposium, the giant Fruit Fucker robot returns during Krangle's keynote address, smashing Krangle and revealing that the robot is being piloted by Mordo von Mundo, a mad scientist who used the power of a dark tome called the Necrowombicon to animate his giant robot.  Mundo escapes to the 1922 World's Fair fairgrounds, while Dr. Blood informs the party that the giant robot is inhabited by Yog Kathak, God of Gears.  Dr. Blood joins the group and they prepare to storm the World's Fair.  

At the fairgrounds, the group fights through possessed visitors and security staff to challenge the dark God.  After making it through the robot's interior and fending off Mundo, Ann-Clair appears on the scene in her own giant robot, a frilly pink giant doll constructed with the items she asked for at the beginning of the game!  After Ann-Clair destroys Yog Kathak and Mundo is defeated, the party takes the Necrowombicon and the narrator reveals a new stanza of The Quartet of the Dusk of Man: 

When two Gods wait on the windowsill,
The wick of the world is burning, still.
But when one God in triumph shouts,
The candle of the world goes out.

So that's that.  Now go on and play Rain-Slick 3 and 4!  They're two of my favorite games from the past several years, and I want as many people to try them as possible (remember, that double pack is only $8). Rain-Slick 3 doesn't bring back the MC from the first two Rain-Slick titles, but Rain-Slick 3 contains a special short scenario called The Beginning of the End which takes place in between the second and third games.  TBotE (which I'd recommend playing after finishing Rain-Slick 3) explains what happened to the MC and also reveals a surprising aspect to Gabe and Tycho's relationship.  

Now, back on the blog front, I'm super duper behind.  I have three reviews to write (including Rain-Slick 4) and three or four other long articles in planning stages.  I'm going to try and have at least four additional posts for the month of June.  See you around!

No comments:

Post a Comment