As Penny Arcade’s stars, Gabe and Tycho, you’re tasked with confronting the mysterious Dr. Blood. To do so you’ll be wading through a deluge of parody, weird enemies, and even weirder party members, all inspired by the vast cast of characters present in the comic. The game is presented as a homage to classic top down RPGs – think back to the earliest days of Final Fantasy and Breath of Fire. The combat is almost an exact replica of the former, with some modern day polish and streamlining to help the game stand out beyond being just a quirky curiosity.
The dialogue, whilst being funny, isn’t intentionally obtuse or bizarre, the frequent chunks of story and interaction between dungeons and boss fights are often hilarious. Both the humour and the solid gameplay are consistent, but the true mark of quality is that it if you stripped away all of the Penny Arcade characters and references, it would stand up by itself as a quality RPG, albeit a throwback to the glory turn based days of old.
What really makes it kick ass, and adds a genuinely tactical edge to the gameplay, is the multi class system. At the end of the first dungeon, after you’ve dispatched the first boss – the omnipotent Crabomancer – you pick up several ‘class pins’ which you can use to assign a second set of skills to your party members. These range from the almost serious ‘Tube Samurai’ to the chuckle-worthy ‘Gentleman’ and ‘Hobo’ to the downright useless ‘Slacker’ class, described as having the power to ‘hang out, and stuff’. You pick up extra pins as the game goes on, and ones you stick on your characters advance extremely rapidly, giving you a variety of new skills to combine with the base abilities of each character. This can be used to double the effectiveness of one character, for example, giving the Brawler Gabe the Tube Samurai pin will greatly increase his combat bonuses and make him an unstoppable melee opponent, or you can choose to cover his lack of healing ability with the Gentleman pin, which relies on giving enemies a good caning and supporting the rest of the party.
Giving Tycho the Hobo pin gives the magic specialist of your party a brawling edge and potentially some extra much needed defence, but it’s often much more practical to add classes that compliment a character’s regular skills rather than adding in new ones to make them more rounded out. Even classes you don’t use level up at a slower rate, meaning you have plenty of opportunities to experiment to find your favourite combinations. There isn’t much room for grinding as enemies are stationary sprites on the map rather than random encounters , which will be a blessing to some and a curse to others, and the linear story has a tendency to hurry you along to the next objective. It’s straightforward RPG goodness but the lack of freedom can get a little frustrating, as can the frequently worthless pieces of equipment stuck in the early game for a joke, like rings that don’t have any effects on stats and simply exist for the sake of flavour text.
Thankfully it has a level of challenge for everyone, from Easy to Insane, so whether you want a brutally challenging game or a walk through some funny dialogue and interesting character design, it has something for you. It’s moving in a different direction but it will be a welcome addition for fans of the series so far, and perhaps the new style will make it close enough to the ancient relics of the genre to appeal to gamers outside of the Penny Arcade sphere of influence.
Deliciously low-res but colourful. The character design is great in both the down to earth human designs to the mime squids and mime pirates to the Optimus Mimes and every other type of Mime you can shake a stick at. There’s a great amount of care and detail in each individual level and they have their own characters and personalities.
Traditional old school RPG with some modern touches to keep it fresh. The gameplay is solid and fun throughout with several different class combinations to ensure the encounters stay interesting and it definitely keeps up with the storyline right to the finish.
Typical Penny Arcade fare – bizarre but packed with ridiculous humour. You’re hardly going to develop a deep and meaningful relationship with any of the characters (Except Jim) but they will give you a few laughs along the way. It’s over the top enough to justify its incoherency and occasional rambling.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.