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On the Rain-Slick Precipace of Darkness
May 21, 2008 2:40 PM   Subscribe

The first video game based on the internet's most prominent gaming comic, Penny Arcade is released today.

After nearly a decade of being a juggernaut of criticism and foul language to the game industry, the duo behind Penny Arcade put their money where their newsposts are; will their game be any good? I don't know yet, as I'm stuck at school all day.

On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, developed by independent game studio Hothead Games, is a 1920s style pulp adventure with steampunk and Lovecraftian elements, mixed with the gameplay elements of a traditional turn-based Japanese console RPG and Penny Arcade's typical brand of humor. The Penny Arcade team divided their work on the game very much like their work on the comic; Gabe (Mike Krahulik) did the art design, and Tycho (Jerry Holkins) wrote the story and script (and each and every description of everything, as I understand it). While I imagine if you're a fan of Penny Arcade you already know about this and whether you want to buy it or not, I thought I'd throw it up anyway. It's available by download for PC, Mac, and Linux, for $20. Also available on X-box Live Arcade.
posted by Caduceus (43 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Heh, fantastic. I'm excited about this.
posted by absalom at 2:42 PM on May 21, 2008


Can't wait to give the demo a spin.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 2:47 PM on May 21, 2008


four page promo comic [1][2][3][4]
posted by juv3nal at 2:54 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I played through the demo earlier today. I like the writing and pervasive humor. The combat is not exactly turn-based. It's more like the Final Fantasy 'active time battle' system.1 The graphics do a good job of giving everything a Penny Arcade comic feel. The mixture of 3D for the main graphics along with 2D for icons and other UI elements works well. So far my only complaint is that the voice acting for the narrator is...not quite the characterization I would have chosen, but voice acting is always tricky.

1 Interestingly, the ATB system is patented. I wonder if this runs afoul of the patent and if Square/Enix actually pursues infringers...
posted by jedicus at 2:56 PM on May 21, 2008


Wired Game/Life's Review,

Joystiq interview with Jerry Holkins about the game.

And, of course, my favorite Penny Arcade strip.
posted by unsupervised at 3:00 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I really hope Tycho's ultimate attack involves smoking orbs of nothing and tears of bubbling pitch.
posted by CKmtl at 3:03 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


You guys are awesome; thanks for the additional links. I don't really have the wherewithal to track those down here at school.
posted by Caduceus at 3:07 PM on May 21, 2008


I'm pretty excited for this one too.
posted by danb at 3:09 PM on May 21, 2008


I'm a buy it.
posted by shmegegge at 3:11 PM on May 21, 2008


Downloading now, I've been very interested ever since Ron Gilbert (Maniac Mansion / Monkey Island mastermind) got involved. The reviews I've read aren't as positive as I'd like, but I'm still down for adventure and hilarity.
posted by yellowbinder at 3:17 PM on May 21, 2008


When is MetaFilter, The Game dropping? Play as Jessamyn, Cortex or PB as you try to rescue Mathowie from the evil SelfLinker gang!
posted by SassHat at 3:28 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


A friend turned me onto PA their first year, and I've been a dedicated reader ever since. I've watched their skills as artists, and their popularity grow and I'm absolutely thrilled that they are finally putting their efforts into making a game of their own.

Like so many of my favorite reviewers, I respect their opinions because they so clearly love the subject matter, and hopefully their game will reflect this.

I just hope that I can play as Div. Or FF2k. That would rule.
posted by quin at 3:48 PM on May 21, 2008


{sniff} Its nice to know not only will these guys carry the torch for adventure games, they are willing to fan the flames with something fun to play.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:57 PM on May 21, 2008


I'm surprised that they made a Mac version considering how generally dismissive they are of the platform. Surprised and very happy. I can't wait to try this.
posted by lekvar at 3:59 PM on May 21, 2008


Hell, I'm surprised about the Linux version.
posted by MikeKD at 4:08 PM on May 21, 2008


I adore Penny Arcade.

This, on the other hand, seems a little lacking. The combat system is confusing and requires more "mouse-jockeying" than mental skill. It would be impossible to play on a console system, for example.

Still, I'll probably get it eventually.
posted by Avenger at 4:33 PM on May 21, 2008


I sprung for it this morning, battled my way through the download, hammered the authentication server five or six times, and got to play it for a short while. I like the game and absolutely loathe the combat system. There's way too much "click on this small button with a fist on it, then go way across the screen and click on something else." So of course I fumble it about a quarter of the time which results in a robot peeing on a party member. Oh and to execute certain attacks, you get to play minigames involving mashing the space bar at certain times, like the old golf sims used to make you do. Gah!

So far it's an interesting if somewhat non-interactive game and definitely a showcase for their writing, engine, and artwork all of which have been impressive. But the combat sucks donkey balls and will probably result in me getting bored and wandering away some time soon.
posted by majick at 4:33 PM on May 21, 2008


jedicus: "The combat is not exactly turn-based. It's more like the Final Fantasy 'active time battle' system.1"

I was going to comment that it seemed very similar to Chronotrigger's combat style. I hadn't realized that most square games share it.

posted by Memo at 4:43 PM on May 21, 2008


I'm surprised that they made a Mac version considering how generally dismissive they are of the platform. Surprised and very happy.

They haven't been dismissive of the Mac for years now. I think Gabe does his art on a Mac (I know he has one), and I know Tycho has one too.
posted by Caduceus at 5:11 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I also seem to recall that either Gabe or Tycho posted something on the blog about using a Mac laptop as their main World of Warcraft machine a year or so ago, so they're hardly dismissive of the Mac as a creative tool and gaming machine. The main problem with Mac gaming is that there just aren't a lot of publishers supporting Apple hardware, so it's nice that the Penny Arcade guys are going same day-and-date with the Mac and Win versions.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:05 PM on May 21, 2008


Caduceus: "They haven't been dismissive of the Mac for years now. I think Gabe does his art on a Mac (I know he has one), and I know Tycho has one too."

They have tasted the forbidden fruit...
posted by Rhaomi at 6:12 PM on May 21, 2008


I adore Penny Arcade.

This, on the other hand, seems a little lacking. The combat system is confusing and requires more "mouse-jockeying" than mental skill. It would be impossible to play on a console system, for example.

Still, I'll probably get it eventually.


I just beat the game on XBLA. I cannot imagine playing this game on the PC. It just wouldn't make any sense.
posted by TypographicalError at 9:09 PM on May 21, 2008


I'm a big PA fan, and I like adventure games, but I pretty much loath FF-style RPG combat (and, in fact, FF-style RPGs in general) which seems to be what they're doing here. I'm going to play the demo for sure and I'll almost certainly get the game, but I'm worried the combat will turn me off it.
posted by markr at 9:11 PM on May 21, 2008


For someone who really, really dislikes the Final Fantasy series... this is fun so far.

If I could find the person behind their comic sans-style font and have them killed, however...

"So, you guys are assholes, huh?"
posted by abulafa at 10:25 PM on May 21, 2008


If you are witty but poor then Ars are running a cartoon caption competition to win a copy of the game on the memory stick of champions.
posted by fallingbadgers at 10:50 PM on May 21, 2008


Indeed, Avenger, from the sound of it it is a lot easier to play on a console... Not having to use a mouse to select people/foes in combat could only work better. I enjoy the combat as you can navigate through the options really fast and time blocks quite easily on XBLA.
It would be easierto select things to interact with/look at, but it's not like you are ever rushed into doing anything, so positioning your character right with the controller isn't a problem.
posted by opsin at 3:55 AM on May 22, 2008


I really hope Tycho's ultimate attack involves smoking orbs of nothing and tears of bubbling pitch.
posted by CKmtl at 6:03 PM on May 21


That is without question my favorite PA strip of all time, and I've been trying to track it down forever. Thank you, CKmtl!
posted by Pastabagel at 7:19 AM on May 22, 2008


Bought, but not played yet. I'm having the recurrent Linux sound driver issue that's mentioned all over the forums, and none of the fixes work (or even apply to my system, as I'm not using PulseAudio). I am still cautiously optimistic; if this entertains me for more than two hours (once I actually get it working), I'll consider it twenty bucks well spent.
posted by Cassilda at 7:28 AM on May 22, 2008


That is without question my favorite PA strip of all time, and I've been trying to track it down forever. Thank you, CKmtl!

Penny Arcade Search Engine

My own favorite is this one. Or is it this one? Or this one? There are so many. Such a great strip.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:05 AM on May 22, 2008


Pastabagel: It's also available in Hoodie form, should you want to freak out people standing behind you.
posted by CKmtl at 8:52 AM on May 22, 2008


they may not be using comic sans. there's another one, I forget what it's called, freely available on the mac that they may be using.

Markerfelt, that's it. I'm not sure which they're using.

Anyway, I've played it, and the one thing that's bothering me most so far is that you have to manually select a character to attack with once his attack is ready. It's kind of silly to have to do that, when the final fantasies that they partly modeled the system on have been capably switching you automatically since the system was first designed. true, this way you can have guys use items out of turn, but I'm sure there's a proper compromise for the two extremes, here.

otherwise, it's been really fun and funnier than I expected on occasion.
posted by shmegegge at 9:23 AM on May 22, 2008


I'm playing on PC, and I'm not really having a problem with the combat system. Sure, it's not ideal, but I think they did a pretty good job of setting it up for, you know, playing on a PC. Anyone having problems with it should consider adjusting their mouse sensitivity to avoid over shooting or whatever problems they're having with targeting.

It's definitely been twenty bucks well spent for me. I haven't laughed so hard at something on my computer screen for quite a while.
posted by Caduceus at 10:13 AM on May 22, 2008


Bought, but not played yet. I'm having the recurrent Linux sound driver issue that's mentioned all over the forums, and none of the fixes work ...

I was debating getting the Linux version (to support that kind of thing) or the XBox version. I still might try the demo on Linux, but I've already suffered through the era of dos boot disks and config.sys files in the late 80s. These days I just want to have the game work.
posted by Gary at 10:21 AM on May 22, 2008


I have found Penny Packer helpful for finding old strips quickly. I've never had any reason to tag anything myself, but just looking at the first tag that comes to mind gets me what I want 99.9% of the time.
posted by sparkletone at 12:45 PM on May 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh. And. I've played the demo (mac version). The combat didn't bother me, but isn't really a big draw for me. It's just all right. However, Tycho's writing and the art direction is more than enough to get me to shell out $20.
posted by sparkletone at 12:46 PM on May 22, 2008


I was debating getting the Linux version (to support that kind of thing) or the XBox version. I still might try the demo on Linux...

For what its worth, I say try the Linux demo out first, and see if you can get it to work. My distro of choice (Gentoo, and yes, I realize this makes me the ricer of the Linux world) isn't heavily represented on the Greenhouse forums, and I know that my setup is wonky; I do have a number of things left to try to see if I can get the game running. All the Ubuntu kids, with their nice haircuts and their shiny shoes, generally seem to be able to play the game with a minimum of fuss.

Of course, I totally would have bought the game on XBLA if I actually had an XBox, so there's that.
posted by Cassilda at 1:24 PM on May 22, 2008


I would imagine that it's very difficult for any game dev to make a game work on the majority of gentoo systems since gentoo kids tend to customize their box to the point where entire functional aspects of the system may in fact be missing, disabled and/or intentionally broken.
posted by shmegegge at 1:30 PM on May 22, 2008


My favorite. (It involves Div.)
posted by A dead Quaker at 1:59 PM on May 22, 2008


For what it's worth, it's not the mouse clicks or other parts of the combat UI that bother me, it's that entire RPG, queue up attacks style of fighting. I prefer just plan ol' arcade style stuff, or have no fighting and make it a pure adventure game. I'm sure I'll survive though.
posted by markr at 4:28 PM on May 22, 2008


All the Ubuntu kids, with their nice haircuts and their shiny shoes, generally seem to be able to play the game with a minimum of fuss.

I'll give it a try, then. I had to completely re-install Ubuntu 8.04 to get wifi working on my laptop. So there shouldn't be too many config surprises to get in the way.

The worst case is having to buy a second copy. But it's Penny Arcade and some local Vancouver developers, so that's not so bad. They can use the extra money to make hats.
posted by Gary at 4:47 PM on May 22, 2008


I did end up getting the game running on my Gentoo machine; as it happens, the game wants to go through OSS for its sound, and won't have truck with any of this newfangled ALSA nonsense. I think it's a weird choice, as to my understanding, OSS is deprecated in the 2.6 kernels in favor of ALSA, but then again, I didn't have to develop the game. It was just a matter of compiling a couple OSS kernel modules; no big deal.
posted by Cassilda at 6:13 PM on May 22, 2008


So I was playing this thinking it was ok but not really as penny-arcade-twisted as I would have liked, but then I got to the part where you have the option to <spoiler>drink the hobo juice OMG!</spoiler>
posted by juv3nal at 2:46 PM on May 26, 2008


If anyone is interested, I wrote about Precipice on my video game blog thing.
posted by danb at 9:33 PM on May 27, 2008


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