Monday, December 21, 2009

Penny Arcade: Episode 1

Penny Arcade is one of my favorite online comics (along with Ctrl Alt Del), so I knew it was only a matter of time before I took a crack at their first attempt at a video game. A while back it was on special for half off, so I downloaded it to my hard drive and promptly forgot about it.

But I finally got around to playing it this weekend. There are actually a series of Penny Arcade games (gotta' love episodic gaming), so this is the first chapter. It's subtitled "On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness", a tribute to the overly loquacious Tycho, half of the Penny Arcade duo.

You start the game by creating a character and doing a brief tutorial. Then you get into the meat of the plot...the general idea is that you join up with Gabe and Tycho to solve mysteries of a bizarre nature. The whole story is a twisted morass of sex-crazed robots, angry hobos, and evil mimes who worship a silent god. It's great! If you follow the comic at all, you can see Mike and Jerry's fingerprints all over this game.

As for gameplay, it's ostensibly a turn-based RPG. You can choose to attack, use an item, or to charge up for a special ability. As you defeat enemies, you gain experience and go up levels. Stats increase. New abilites are earned. You know the drill, I'm sure. Unlike most turn-based RPGs though, this one operates on a time based system. While you're choosing what to do, the enemies get to continue attacking. On top of that, there's a Mario RPGesque system in which you can use the triggers to block incoming attacks and even get counterattacks. The game runs pretty fast, so there's a bit of a learning curve involved. It's definitely an improvement over standard point and click RPGs though.

Penny Arcade also has some adventure elements (round up items to solve puzzles) and a few mini-games. But the point is mostly the's rife with humor and you get a fair bit of input into how you want your character to interact with Gabe and Tycho. There are tons of Easter Eggs for fans of the comic, so keep your eyes peeled.

Weaknesses? Well, it's an Xbox Live game so it's pretty short. I knocked it out with little trouble over the weekend. There really aren't a lot of alternate pathways so the replay value isn't great either. I also found battles to get a bit repetetive after a while...there are only a few enemy models in the game (though each one is GOLD), and you have to do a fair bit of fighting when I'd really rather just move on with the story.

Still, I felt like it was well worth a few bucks to play through the adventure, and I already own Episode 2 so it's inevitable that I'll check out future enstallments. If you're a fan of the comic, I definitely recommend Penny Arcade.


  1. I do love CAD, so now I'll have to check out Penny Arcade.

  2. Yeah, you were the one who introduced me to CAD. I still check it a couple times a week to see what Ethan and Lucas are up to...

  3. Now that I have been to PAX East I'm starting to read the back issues of Penny Arcade. I bought all books (that conical the first 5 years of the comic). Now I think I'm going have to get this game as well.