Sunday, June 01, 2008
On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One (Xbox 360) Trial Impressions
After downloading it a week ago, I finally got around to trying out the trial version of On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One (Xbox 360) (love that name), and while I can say that I was never a huge fan of Penny Arcade, the game certainly has a nice flavour to it.
Set in 1922 "New Arcadia," you play as yourself (with limited customization options) and after watching a giant Fruit Fucker robot crush your house (yes, this game isn't for the kiddies), you rush off with your trusty rake seeking revenge. Hot in pursuit are the two staple characters of the Penny Arcade comics, Tyco and Gabe, who join you for the adventure, while several other characters from the comics make guest appearances to round out your party.
The game has certainly captured a comic-style look thanks to cell shading and panel design, and the animations of the characters are fluid and quirky (crazy Fruit Fuckers). The audio is alright, but there's no spoken dialogue (aside from the odd exclamation and the snooty narrator at the beginning) which really is too bad. Even though it's based on a comic strip, it is 2008 after all, and for one of the most ambitious Xbox LIVE Arcade titles to date, I'd expect better.
There are mainly two modes of play, adventure and combat. In adventure mode, you run around smashing trash cans and boxes to collect various items, and you can interact with people to find out more information and progress the story. Combat is a semi-turn based style of play where you can cycle through your characters and attack whenever they're ready, but your enemies can do the same. You can use items, access your basic attack, or use a power attack to smash your enemies, and power attacks can be combined with other party members for maximum effect. You can block and completely counter enemy attacks as well, but it's all about timing, and juggling your characters in semi-real time can be a bit frantic as battles heat up.
Now for my actual impressions. On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One certainly has potential. The trial features the game's tutorial and I got some decent playtime out of it, but I found exploration a little tedious and boring mainly because I was just running around to adjust the camera angle, which can not be manually controlled. Combat was alright and got more challenging as I progressed, but I never needed to use Band Aids (to heal or revive) once, and from what I've read, it's not a challenging game overall. The game's humour, taken straight out of the comics, is a healthy mix of hilarious, to tasteless, to "can we please shut up and just get going already;" I found it hit and miss.
When all was said and done, however I did enjoy On the Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One and went to purchase the full version when I stopped with jaw-dropping surprise. The full version of the game comes at 1600 Microsoft Points! That translates to $24.80 if you purchase your Microsoft Points via Xbox LIVE, which is ridiculously over-priced. I don't care how much content is in there or how high the production values are, I simply can not justify that cost when I could purchase some excellent Xbox Originals, full, classic retail games, for 1200 Microsoft Points, or spend a few dollars more to get some great Platinum Hits at retail.
Even had I been a fan of Penny Arcade, I couldn't justify forking over the cash for this. Given the scope of the game, I'd pay 1200 Microsoft Points tops. If I'm drunk. And bored. And my Xbox 360's DVD drive is broken so I couldn't play anything else. But not before, not when there's so much else offered on the Xbox 360.
Sorry Hothead Games and Microsoft, but you gotta price better for anyone with half a brain to buy such a simple game. Sadly, Xbox LIVE is filled with gamers missing that half a brain. Just look at the sales of the Halo 3 Multiplayer Map Packs. Very, very sad.