It’s time for another #1 Quick Fix! This time, I’m covering my first impressions of Penny Arcade’s On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4, evidently the fourth and final part of the Penny Arcade’s On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness series. Zeboyd Games, the developers of Breath of Death VII: The Beginning (note: Breath of Death 1-6 don’t exist), Cthulhu Saves the World and the third part of Precipice of Darkness, developed it.
While I have not played any of the previous Precipice games, I’ve played a bit of both Cthulhu Saves the World and Breath of Death, and the gameplay style for Precipice 4 is very similar while simultaneously being rather different in a way that makes it a lot more fun.
The combat system behind Precipice 4 does not have the player character directly fight. Rather, each player character takes control of a monster, which has slightly different stat growths and abilities based on who the trainer is. Other than that, it’s standard JRPG-style gameplay with a few twists, such as the ability to kick enemies back in the initiative queue with certain types of attacks.
Returning from the previous Zeboyd Games titles are mechanics that make enemies stronger with each passing turn, as well as the restoration of HP and MP between fights. In this particular case, this means that your health will refill after each fight and MP always starts at 0 and each monster gets 1 added to their pool per turn. Furthermore, items are handled by a sort of item creation device that, instead of giving you an overall pool of items, gives you an upgreadeable pool of items that will always reset after every fight.
This is actually a brilliant solution to a problem any JRPG that expects you to use items would run into time and time again – everyone has to conserve their MP and good items for when they really need it, and (if you’re like me) ends up never using anything other than basic attacks to get through the game. This, however, lets you have fun with everything at your disposal in every fight as much as you please, which is great. And an early boss makes it clear that this is no fluke – it’s intentional.
The first boss fight in the game introduces an additional mechanic where certain fights will change everything for that battle and that battle only. In that particular case, all monsters on both sides were temporarily level 30, complete with the stats and abilities you would gain by level-up, so you can have just a little bit of fun with the power you will gain slowly as you progress through the game. This just plain brilliant design, no two ways about it.
There are two more things in this game that stood out to me: The story and the artwork.
As I said, I have not played any of the previous games in the series, so I had no idea what to expect from the story, but the opened with a recap. The recap confused me. From what I gathered, the villain of the previous game destroyed the universe, which was according to plan so long as everyone died, but one god lived, so they have to kill that god so a new universe can be born in the image of some dude’s niece. Yeah, I don’t get it either, but this is pretty comical writing, although I can’t tell whether or not it’s funny for all the wrong reasons. Still, laughter is laughter, and this game drew some out of me while not going too far overboard trying.
As for the artwork, it’s the usual 16-bit style I’ve come to expect from Zeboyd. Honestly, though, I’ve long since gotten tired of games being made in that art style on purpose in this day and age, but at least they do it well, since they’ve had plenty of practice.
Oh, and the game has no random encounters. Thank God.
The game was released today on Steam for $4.99 with 10% off for the first week. It’s also available on Xbox Live Indie Games for the same price. I think this more than deserves the $5.