Reviews

Penny Arcade’s Precipice of Darkness 3 review

Shh, can you hear the impending doom coming? Nope, not with mimes involved.

Something is up, and our heroes have to rise to the occasion. Heroes might be giving this lot too much credit though, especially since one of them is a jar. The mission is clear, or is it? Tycho Ephemerous Brahe gets a phone call of the weirdest kind: complete silence. Together with sidekick Gabe Tycho head to the docks of Arcadia to find out more. Silence could only mean one thing: the mimes are back, and the mime god that was vanquished might be back. Once at the Arcadia docks they find a murdered mime, and the streets filled with enemies.

This is the third game in the Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. The first games in the series are available for PC, Mac, Linux and Xbox Live Arcade. Both those games are a mix of point and click adventure, and Final Fantasy esque turn based battles. I have minor experience of the first episode since it was free on the Mac App Store for a time. The third instalment has very little in common with the first ones when it comes to gameplay, and perspective.

Precipice of Darkness 3 is a top down RPG game much like early Final Fantasy, and other mid nineties RPGs for the Super NES. Battles are all turn-based, and it is easy to see the resemblance to any old Final Fantasy game. As a game it is quite similar to Cthulhu saves the World that is from the same developer. Besides the gameplay similarities the same kind of humour can be found in both games.

Walking about the gameworld is done using a virtual keypad, and it works really well. I really like the run toggle that allows for speedier movement. The gameworld is quite barren with just a few treasure chests, and other interaction points that just give a quick humorous response such as “Tycho is afraid of the vase, and won’t touch it”.  There are no random battles, and that is great in my opinion. It lets me explore the locations without ever being interrupted. The negative flipside to not having random encounters is that the game feels quite linear with just a single path to take. Enemies stand about waiting for you to walk into them to initiate combat. There are some that can be avoided, at the cost of both loot and valuable experience.

Battle is your standard turn based combat, and it is easy to grasp within a few rounds. Characters have four possible actions: attack, magic, items and defend. Attack is of course the standard attack, and defend allows for less damage being taken when attacked. Items are not that common, but can alter the combat if used such as different potions to restore life or status. The most interesting is magic that has different names depending on the character used. I rather call it magic to simplify the review. With experience comes more spells, and abilities. Attack spells, revive and heal are all there. Attacks are divided into light, medium and hard and cost different amounts of MP. As MP is generated through time it is often worth waiting to be able to use a more powerful attack than dishing out small attacks each turn.

There is a lot of tapping of enemies when in battle, and I would have liked a speedier approach. Early on most battles feel like they are already won, and it is just a matter of tapping the attack, and then the enemy to attack. It isn’t until boss battles that the game offers some challenge. This is due to the heroes healing up between battles, which makes it easy to always be on the attack. Most RPGs have revival places that you have to travel to, but not Precipice of Darkness 3.

The presentation is old-school, and makes me feel old playing on an iPhone 5. Everything is really small, and texts are quite hard to read. Considering how important the text is to the game it is a bummer. Without the funny dialogues, monologues and rants the game is just a basic RPG. As it is universal I recommend you to play it on an iPad to get the most out of it without having to use a magnifying glass.

The sound is also paying tribute to old school RPGs, and I found it quite enjoyable for the first hour. I would have liked to have proper voice acting for the heroes to enhance the comedy aspects of the game. Sound effects are squeaky, bleepy and could have been heard twenty years ago on the NES, and Super NES.

Precipice of Darkness 3 is a quite fun old school RPG with new school humour. An uneven level of difficulty, hard to read texts on smaller devices, lack of online leaderboard or achievements and dated sound effects draw the final rating down. It is still worth experiencing if you want a fun adventure with weird bunch of heroes.

Final Rating

okay

Precipice of Darkness 3 $2.99 Universal for iPad/iPhone/iPod
Version: 1.0.0
Seller: TinkerHouse Inc.

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