PENNY ARCADE ADVENTURES: ON THE RAIN-SLICK PRECIPICE OF DARKNESS, EP. 2
/ Hothead Games / PC
While you can play Episode 2 by itself, I think it's safe to assume nobody is going to. If you bothered to buy this, you almost certainly played Episode 1 first. This is important, as the five or six hours of gameplay that Episode 1 constituted were pretty entertaining, all things considered. Five to ten more hours of more of the same, however, gets to be a little too much.
The problem is basically that the engine of the game has barely been tweaked at all. Sure, the enemies look different, the items have different names, and there's new button-press combos for the Special Attacks. The battles are still the same old samey routine, however, and lots of art and sound assets are re-used. Gabe and Tycho are still your constant and only companions, and upgrade paths/levelling are almost completely and totally linear.
Episode 1 dragged a bit during long stretches of combat against samey enemy groups, but the humor and writing carried the whole thing off in spite of some lulls of tedium. The humor and writing in this one are still sharp, and there's some genuinely funny moments, but the repetition and tedium is just piling up too much for the jokes to offset it now. Aside from having just done all this in the previous episode, this iteration seems even more reliant on pixel hunting, fetch quests and repetitive battles to pad out the time in between humorous dialogue and nice-looking hand-drawn cutscenes.
Maybe it's for the best that the planned Episodes 3 and 4 were cancelled. The public reason was that Hothead decided to devote all their resources to making Deathspank, but I wonder if everyone involved didn't just realize halfway through that they just didn't have enough material to carry off 20+ hours of total game. I like Penny Arcade, and I appreciate the anti-PC tone in a gaming world almost wholly dominated by Play-It-Safe Focus-Group Thinking, but I couldn't even bring myself to finish this one, it had just so thoroughly ceased to be fun to play.
* Gameplay Video