Angry Robot

Penny Arcade's Transmogrification

Oh Penny Arcade, how many laughs have you given me over the years? The many “ah ha!” moments of clarity wherein I felt such a kinship with my fellow gamers. Penny Arcade understood the woes, the worries, the awesomeness that is playing. So when they decided to make an actual game my heart and soul were all a flutter.

On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode 1 wasn’t just fun to say, it was to be the first installment in the great Penny Arcade game franchise! Excitement! The beauty of Gabe’s visuals, the wit of Tycho’s words! What could be more titillating than that? Unfortunately, the masters of gaming comedy have missed the mark for me. Just ever so slightly, mind you, but still I have no urge to continue the gaming part of their game. I do, however, wish to continue their story and the way in which it is told. A conundrum to be sure, let me explain further.

I started the game and immediately became all a tingle, the music, the beautiful art, the sexy, slinky panel to panel movement! The narrator’s voice reminded me of John Hurt and I was taken back to the days of Jim Henson’s Storyteller. I says to Toku I says, “I want to watch this movie!” How those words would haunt me an hour later…

The game lets you design your own character, there only about three options per section (head, face, body, clothes) which disappointed me until the game began and the girl I had created was all animated and sexy fine! I was delighted! I extrapolated that they needed limited options to be able to animate all the variations.

You start out in your lil’suburban street raking leaves and listening to the narrator explain your purpose (he is quite vague) when a gaint robot (a certain fruit defiling machine) stomps on your house and runs away, being followed by a dashing pair of 20’s styled rogues: Tycho and Gabe.

You must follow the two and learn the rules of the game whilst doing so. You continue with the typical opening cans and such to get items, and then you learn combat as you battle a bunch of wee fruit…defilers. This is where the game begane to lose me. You have your basic attack, your special attack, and then items to use against foes all on different buttons, when you build up enough energy on your attacks you hit the corresponding button, target an enemy and attack. With special attacks once you select the enemy you go into kinda like a mini game “hit this at that time thing” which if you complete you get max damage on your attack. Special attacks vary between your character and your support characters. You can block enemy attacks at the beginning of their move, but I wasn’t fast enough for this and always got hit…

Anyway, when you have a whole team of characters it’s cool because you can rapidly switch between each character mid attack, which means you could have all of your characters and support characters attacking pretty much at the same time.

The rest of the gameplay is very much run along in this direction clearing enemies, collecting stuff, etc. It feels extremely linear which is kinda a let down in such a beautifully designed world, you really wany to explore the area with a free camera, not locked off and only facing one way.

Ack, that’s the thing here, I kept playing thinking “okay we’re building up to something really cool, keep playing and you’ll get to it” and then I was like “wait…this IS it…this is the game…bawls!” I had so wanted to play differently. I love the story and like I said I really want to just like watch the story, but the game…I don’t want to play the game. One thing I didn’t like, even with the awesome story, was in dialogue mode there is no music just this creepy static sound in the background. It’s slightly disturbing because you’re in conversations for so long it’d be nice to have some ambient music about…

So I will play the game more thoroughly on the weekend, I just really wish I could watch this as an awesome movie. I’m sure the voices of Gabe and Tycho wouldn’t be hard to cast at all. I love the artwork, I love the script, I just don’t like the game…It feels beneath what it should be for a Penny Arcade game. If only Insomniac made a Penny Arcade game…that would be totally perfect. Almost too perfect…Mmm…perfection…

One comment on "Penny Arcade's Transmogrification"

  1. Steve says:

    I’ve only played the demo… but… yeah… what she said. Totally agree.

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