Penny Arcade – On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 Review
Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness series had a tough road to completion. Last week, however, Zeboyd Games (makers of On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3, Cthulhu Saves the World, and Breath of Death VII) released On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4, the final entry in the series. If you are a fan of both Penny Arcade and Super Nintendo-style roleplaying games, On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 is a no-brainer.
However, let’s say you want more discussion of the game than that? First off, it’s a nice looking game. Which is to say it looks exactly like you want it to. The graphics are Fantasy Fantasy III (nee VI)-style sprite art and are all extremely well drawn. It’s a very pretty game and it makes me all the more excited to see what Zeboyd can do with their new, Chrono Trigger-inspired engine once they get to making their next game. On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 also shines in terms of monster design. I mean, there are some really bizarre, interesting monsters roaming out there and it seems like every few fights you are discovering something new.
On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4, like previous Zeboyd affairs, eschews traditional random battles. Instead, there are enemies placed about the map and fights are engaged once you walk into the monsters. This allows for more even pacing through the game, although it also has the side-effect of making the game feel more linear. Still, overall, it’s a blessing. You never feel like you can’t walk 10 feet without being assaulted and the leveling curve seems very tight.
The combat itself is a proxy battle waged by several monsters (shades of Pokemon, to be sure, although you gain the monsters at set points throughout the game or by finding them, not be capturing them during battles) you gain control of throughout the game. I found at least two that appeared to be optional and each monster has its own set of strengths, special moves, and weaknesses as well as a second set of moves based on which ‘Trainer’ you have attached. I managed to get through the game with some pretty minimal min-maxing, although I would guess that others more devious than me could create some pretty wicked monster combinations between adding accessories that boost various stats (and create other effects) and the aforementioned trainer abilities. The combat itself is definitely some of the best JRPG combat I have ever come across (And, yeah, I’ve been playing these things since Dragon Quest was called Dragon Warrior and there was only one of it). Tactics matter. You need to keep track of various enemy weaknesses (the game tells you how many elements each enemy is weak against) and each monster gets more powerful each turn you fail to kill it so just hitting ‘Attack’ over-and-over is not a valid strategy in the vast majority of fights.
Gone is the dot-based navigation system of the previous entry, replaced by a full overworld map that makes On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 feel much, much larger than its predecessor. The world feels much more alive. I wanted to read everything that the various townspeople had to say, each one fleshing out the world a little more. On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 seems to take itself a little more seriously than its predecessors. This is not a bad thing. I mean, there is still levity, to be sure (each monster has flavor text that I always took the time to read before destroying said monster), but the story itself is not terribly ‘comedic’, as such. There are certainly funny parts. Asides, the aforementioned flavor text, the overall level of absurdity, but the game – as a whole – takes itself pretty seriously despite all of that. I found myself invested in the story, which is probably the nicest thing I could possibly say, and enjoyed it all the way through the end. It’s a big, interesting world to explore that takes a while to get through but never drags and rarely gives you room to breathe (although the towns help with that). So, how long is On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4? Well, my completed game clocked in at eight hours, according to Steam. I tried to search around for hidden stuff at the end of the game, so you could probably push through faster if you really wanted to.
I would be remiss to not mention the music of On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4, as well. Hyperduck, frankly, just crushes it. The music is epic stuff. It feels like it would not be at all out of place in the legends of the genre. Bad music can really drag a game down and, contrarywise, amazing music like this really elevates an already amazing game even higher.
So, is On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 any good? Yeah, if you haven’t caught on yet, I think it is. It’s a gorgeous example of a genre that died a long time ago and is, largely, kept alive by people hapazardly making clones. Zeboyd, on the other hand, keeps bringing new things to the genre. So far, every one of their games has been their best one, and On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 is no different. Until June 4, 2013, it is on sale on Steam for $4.49. After that it is $4.99.
So, have you played On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4? What did you think? Or are you considering picking up the game? Let me know down in the comments! If you’re not reading this on the front page, why don’t you spend some more time reading my stuff on the Futile Position home page?