The good stuff always gets cancelled

I was one of the many who was disappointed when I heard Firefly was to be axed. My dad was a keen watcher of Primeval, though it never really grabbed me, and was miffed when it went off-air. Dollhouse and FlashForward have also recently been dropped, as have Heroes and Legend of the Seeker.

You can tell that we watch a lot of stuff on the SyFy channel in my house.

The same can be said about games- Duke Nukem Forever being the most widely-known at the moment (13 years in production and we still have nada). It’s far from the only one- Marvel Universe Online was kicked in 2008, and the sequel to 360 launch title Kameo: Elements of Power was dissolved by Rare in 2009 in favour of working on Project Natal.
(Interesting sidenote: Kameo was the first game I ever did an online review for, back when I used to contribute to the RPGForums Online podcast. I also used to run the RPGFO Academy, helping people develop forum-based RP skills)

Today I found confirmation that the final two episodes of Penny Arcade: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness have been ‘indefinitely postponed’. This saddened me greatly, especially as I had completed the first episode less than half an hour beforehand, and had been scolding myself for not getting the game as soon as I had got my 360.

If you don’t know Penny Arcade then I highly recommend it. I won’t go into the vast PA history, but I will just say this- these guys pretty much started the gamer webcomic genre.

Precipice, as it is shortened to, is about 6 hours of randomness and brilliance. All the styling of H. P. Lovecraft…with giant robots. And hobos. And mimes. And clowns. Your character joins up with Penny Arcade protagonists Gabe and Tycho in order to discover what a giant robot is doing in New Arcadia in 1922- well, they’re doing the discovering, you just want revenge for the robot stomping on your house.

It’s a point-and-click adventure in spirit, combined with a Final Fantasy-style turn-based combat system. The controls are brilliantly intuitive and are second nature in no time at all. Blocking an enemy attack takes a bit of getting used to with timing, but is a great success once you’ve mastered it.

The game is a mix of 2D and 3D environments, with 2D comic-strip style conversations that give you a number of dialogue options. There’s even the odd cutscene, beautifully and simply rendered. And, of course, this is Penny Arcade- so the dialogue is often hilarious and off-the-wall. Support characters can be brought into a battle if needed to lend a hand- there’s even an achievement for getting a cat to join you as a support character. The young genius of Anne-Claire Forthwith, Tycho’s teenage niece, is a guiding force for the many cases in the game; as well as the person you turn to to upgrade your weapons. Tycho is armed with a tommy gun (and a book- which I love, as he tosses the book up in the air to shoot, then catches it deftly as the enemies feel the wrath of his bullets), Gabe is a keen pugilist (who you endow with knuckle dusters after collecting parts to make them) and your own character- well, they have a rake. It was the only thing to hand when your house got crushed. It is a very good rake though.

There is no better way to sum it up than this- it’s a great bit of silly fun. It may not be fantastically challenging, but it doesn’t need to be- the story is surreal, the characters are brilliantly endearing and the dialogue beautifully (and hilariously) mastered.

For around 6 hours of gamplay, the Microsoft Points cost might seem steep. But trust me on this- you will not get all the achievements in a single playthrough.

My fingers are crossed that someday we may yet see the final 2 episodes of Precipice- and finally find out if your character finds somewhere to live!

*

EDIT NOTE: Having just got Episode 2, I was delighted to discover that Zoey (my character) could be carried over from Episode 1. And Episode 2 is more challenging! The ‘sanity’ minigame took me a good ten minutes to get through…

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~ by Tegan on July 2, 2010.

One Response to “The good stuff always gets cancelled”

  1. I was 3/4 through the 2nd episode when I heard the bad news, but what I heard was that the developers were busy making Deathspank (which kinda sucks IMO). Now that they’re finished w/ that maybe they’ll get back to Precipice. lets hope so

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