Penny Arcade: On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 is a departure from the style of the previous two series' games, as HotHead Games is out and Zeboyd Games is in. Players of Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves The World will find the graphical style and battle trappings familiar, though with a new combat system reminiscent of the Grandia pushback system, there are plenty of new mechanics to keep players interested as they re-enter the Penny Arcade world.
I jumped into the game at around the two-hour mark, and immediately set to exploring a museum set in front of me. Each character had a main job that players could easily recognize from the previous titles, but they can also equip subjobs as the story progresses. These subjobs include such auspicious roles as Crabomancer, Tube Samurai, and Elemenstor. Each subjob can be equipped on only one person at a time, so no doubling up on Gentleman or anything else. Jobs level up independently, so switching Hobo from Gabe to Tycho doesn't result in a loss of experience. Leveling up classes unlocks both new abilities and passive stat boosts, which are only applied when the class is equipped.
The script is a joint effort between the Penny Arcade author Jerry Holkins and Robert Boyd, so expect a mix of the witty repartee found in the Penny Arcade strips with the ironic humor found in previous Zeboyd titles. There are also plenty of nods to former Zeboyd titles, but they are subtle enough that players won't feel left out if they're new to the line. A recap in the menu also catches players up if they're new to Penny Arcade Adventures, so players needn't have experienced the first two to be up to speed here. Again, there will be nods for veterans to appreciate including Pelican Bay and Hobo Alley.
Battle unfolds with players on the right and enemies on the left. Characters begin at 0 MP and gain one per turn, while enemies begin at 100% power and build up strength the longer battle goes on to prevent winning by mere attrition. At the top of the screen is a turn bar, which shows when each individual enemy and ally will have their turn. Using abilities and attacks that knockback an opponent will reset the enemy's position in the queue, forcing them to wait longer to take their action. This is most effective right before their move is to take place, which will push their turn back the maximum amount.
The story follows Gabe and Tycho's exploration to retrieve their lost Necrowombicon, which disappeared in the previous Rain-Slick episode. Along the way they will meet a new character, named Moira, who has a hidden personal relationship with one of the established characters. Moira is currently exclusive to the Rain-Slick games, though it's possible she may be peeking her head into comic strips in the future.
Penny Arcade: On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 has already been confirmed, so don't expect any endings with full closure for Gabe and Tycho just yet, as there will be more coming from Zeboyd Games in the future in the Penny Arcade universe. Episode 3 has been bumped up for an earlier release on June 25, 2012 on both Xbox Live Indie Games and Steam for PCs.