On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode 2 - Staff Review  

Lightning Bolts: Still Awesome.
by Adriaan den Ouden

Click here for game information
Xbox 360
Less than 20 Hours
+ 50% more F-bombs dropped.
+ Battle system is still engaging and deliciously brutal.
+ More 2D animations than the original.
+ Xbox 360 bricking issue seems to have been fixed.
- Block timing still difficult to hit.
- 3D run animation still looks goofy.
Click here for scoring definitions 

   It's been four months since popular webcomic Penny Arcade unleashed their first ever game upon the world. On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode 2 is the continuation of the story that began in the first episode, and like the first, it's filled with sarcasm, sight gags, and nymphomaniacal juicing machines. A few things have changed in this latest installment, some for the better and some for the worse, but in general, it's more zany silliness that's sure to please fans of the first game. Of course, it's also sure to confuse anyone who didn't play the first game; seriously now, who plays a serialized game series out of order? It's just not done.

   After killing a god in the first episode, things have gotten back to normal, or at least as normal as things can get in the dark, cel-shaded burgh of New Arcadia. As the story begins, the protagonist (that's you!) has just finished putting the finishing touches on his, ahem, new house. However, the celebrations are short-lived, as it is unceremoniously destroyed (again) by Gabe and Tycho only moments later. Homeless once more, the protagonist sallies forth with the Startling Developments Detective Agency to hunt down the gigantic, orange-fornicating robot that is to blame.

   While Episode 1 saw the player fighting off murderous hobos, sadistic mimes, and man-eating trashcans, Episode 2 has a whole slew of new locations and villains to slaughter. Fun is poked at the rich, the foreign, and even the mentally infirm, proving that no one is beyond the reach of the unscrupulous duo's unique brand of sarcasm and profanity laden humor. To assist with the truly harrowing task at hand, each of the three characters has upgraded their weaponry. Tycho has traded in his tommy gun for a far more devastating, and cliché, shotgun, and the protagonist has tossed aside his pitiful rake for a truly fear-inducing garden hoe. Gabe... well, Gabe still punches things, but there's not really much that could be done in that regard, unless he somehow grew a third fist. Which, come to think of it, would be awesome.

It It's balls to the wall fantastic!

   Combat remains much the same as the original title, but has seen a few upgrades. Once again, the player's three-character party and assortment of support characters do battle in a turn-based environment very similar to the ATB system of Final Fantasy. The more time that passes before a character takes a turn, the more powerful the abilities they can unleash: first the use of items, next a basic attack, and finally a special attack. The special attacks have been changed from the original title, each requiring a new mini-game sequence to determine its ultimate effectiveness.

   The most significant change to combat is that the word "Block" now appears instead of an enemy's health bar flashing. The flashing health bar of the original title was often difficult to see, so this is a welcome change, but the window of opportunity is still quite short, and most players will probably find themselves getting partial blocks more often than full ones. However, health totals are much higher than they were for most of the first installment, and as a result, blocking is far less important in this one than in the original. Partial blocks usually provide enough damage protection to get by.

   Another interesting change is that enemies seem to have received upgraded AI as well as some new abilities in combat. Specifically, some enemies are able to hide behind others, staying out of reach of attacks. Some enemies will flee from combat to join another group of enemies, and others still will appear in the middle of a battle. The encounters appear to be scripted in this way, but it really helps to make each one unique. Like the first game, the total number of enemies in the world is set, so there are only so many battles one will fight during the game.

You sure do, Gabe.  You sure do. You sure do, Gabe. You sure do.

   Episode 2 also offers the player more bang for their buck. In addition to receiving a price cut, Episode 2 also has more areas to explore, more animations to watch, and more random humor to take in. There are also more puzzles, sidequests, and even a strange mini-game featuring Twisp and Catsby, perennial Penny Arcade favorites. Visual upgrades include new clothing and facial options for the player, and the 3D graphics appear to have received some minor improvements, although the running animations still look a bit goofy. The developer, Hothead Games, was also kind enough to allow players loading their characters from Episode 1 to modify their appearance with the new options should they so choose. The soundtrack remains excellent, and the superb voice-actor who played the narrator in Episode 1 returns. The narrator has many more lines than the original game and provides a more constant presence throughout.

   On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode 2 is really just a continuation of the first game. While minor upgrades have been made, the core game remains pretty much the same, and it isn't likely to change the opinions of those who weren't fond of the first. This is to be expected, however, as On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness was originally intended as a serial and should really be looked at as the same game. Episode 2 is slightly longer than Episode 1, but can still be completed in under ten hours. The game has also received adjustable difficulty levels, including an unlockable "Insane" mode for those who truly belong in the Cloying Odors Sanitarium. Like the first, Episode 2 is a solid, cheap title sure to appeal to Penny Arcade fans. For anyone who wants more details on the mechanics found in the game, they can be found in our official staff review of Episode 1.

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