MWN Impressions: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness Episode Two

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The Second installment in the Penny Arcade Adventures series was released onto consoles, PCs and Macs recently and after loving the first I eagerly snatched up the second as soon as the opportunity presented itself. The point and click adventure style combined with RPG elements and the quirky, absurd and altogether charming humour are a blessing in a world of RPGs that take themselves so seriously. The only question is: can the second in the series live up to the reputation of the first? Read on to find out.

Episode 2 picks up right where Episode 1 left off, the giant fruit fucker is still eluding Gabe, Tycho and yourself and the only lead you have is an insane scientist who goes by the name Crozier. However Crozier is holed up in an insane asylum so our intrepid young heroes set off on an adventure once again, this time to break out the man who invented the fruit fucker.

There have been a number of improvements between Episode 2 and Episode 1, the major one being an alteration of some of the battle mini-games. As you know if you played Episode 1 to perform special attacks you perform a very short mini-game to determine the strength of the attack. For example, Gabe’s mini-game has been overhauled to make it into less of a button mashing fiesta and more of rhythm based experience instead. Better combat combined with a much larger variety and volume of puzzles compared to the first in the series ensure that it’s not just more of the same but an actual improvement on the original.

Characters from Episode 1 can be brought forward into Episode 2, however don’t fret if you don’t own Episode 1 and want to get in on the action, new characters start at level 15, the cap from the first game. The witty and often ridiculous humour makes a welcome return from Episode 1, with plenty of recurring jokes and themes to entertain fans of the first game. That’s not to say that you would be left out of the jokes if Episode 2 is your first venture into the series, the jokes are delivered in such a way as to appeal to a new audience as well as old.

There were only two problems that I had with Episode 2, the first being the slightly less involving story. It just doesn’t seem to draw me in as much as the first but nevertheless is still good. Also, the difficulty of the game seemed a tad watered down compared to the first in the series. The inclusion of various difficulty levels solves this though so I recommend ramping up the difficulty at least one level, even on your first playthrough. After completion the insane difficulty mode is unlocked, which will force you to play a lot more strategically, blocking and countering wherever possible and rationing items. An urge to cause yourself extreme anger isn’t the only reason for a second playthrough though, as you unlock a new costume for the coat rack back at the Startling Developments office.

All in all Episode 2 is a fine addition to the Penny Arcade Adventures series, albeit one with a slightly shallower story. Lets just hope the guys over at Hothead Games can keep this up for the final two installments in the series. Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness Episode Two is out now on Xbox-Live and various download services for the PC (and for $5 cheaper than its predecessor nonetheless!). Check out the trailer below:

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