|System: Xbox 360*, PS3, PC|
|Dev: Zeboyd Games|
|Pub: Penny Arcade|
|Release: June 25, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Josh Engen
It's been almost four years since the guys over at Penny Arcade have released an episode of their Rain-Slick franchise, which I suppose is understandable considering that the original developer bailed on them in 2009. Someone once told me that you need a video game developer to develop video games, and I guess this sounds reasonable.
Well, Zeboyd Games decided to hop into the Penny Arcade saddle last year, and I must say that the results are pretty entertaining, albeit somewhat surprising.
Obviously, I'm mostly talking about the graphical style and gameplay. Fans of the previous titles will no doubt be slightly bewildered by the new direction, but if you've touched an RPG at some point in the last 20 years, you should have no problem making the adjustment.
Many of you are probably already familiar with Zeboyd 's previous work. They're the crew behind Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World—both of which are throwback RPGs with a comedic bent, developed in a 16-bit style. Their catalog is quite refreshing, actually.
Now, I understand if my referring to a throwback title as "refreshing" confuses you, but before you flood the comments section, let me explain.
See, the 80s and 90s had their fair share of iconic role-playing games—these were the genre's formative years, after all—but each of them has a unique set of quirks that instantly dates it by today's standards. Broken sprites and getting tangled in jagged textures were par for the course twenty years ago, but times were tough back then. And gaming has evolved.
Well, Zeboyd has somehow managed to capture most of that old school RPG charm, but also mixes in some exceptionally intricate gameplay and a sophisticated combat system. Rain-Slick 3, then, becomes something more than a simple retro-RPG, though I'm not exactly sure what that something is.
If we were living in 1993, I would probably tell you that Rain-Slick 3 has some of the more impressive graphics on the market. But I've seen Crysis 3, so I'm not going to say that. However, Zeboyd has done a good job of taking the essence of those SNES-era RPGs and rolling it into a game that has a retro look and feel but comes from a more modern thought process. Plus, if you're one of those people who won't play a game unless it puts your video card through its paces, you probably don't have many followers on Twitter.
The Penny Arcade creators took a pretty gigantic risk by letting Zeboyd get behind the wheel of their franchise. See, when the previous Rain-Slick episodes were in production, the creators hand-picked Hothead Games because they thought Hothead would be able to capture the same look and feel that their infamous online comic was known for. But when Hothead flew the coop a few years ago, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, the duo behind Penny Arcade, were able to let go of their original vision and embrace this new direction.
Even though I genuinely loved Rain-Slick 3's art, I would be lying if I said that it has a storyline of any kind. It's more like a series of jokes glued together by monster battles. I mean, technically this is one of those RPGs where you where you can get away with repeatedly tapping the A button to fast-forward through all of the dialog, but if you do, you're missing the point entirely. Yes. This game has a pointless and incoherent storyline, but, just like the Penny Arcade Comics, Rain-Slick 3 is just trying to make you laugh.
However, whatever plot it does have picks up where the previous title left off. Tycho and Gabe have just finished dispatching a god, and are once again accepting clients at the Startling Developments Detective Agency.