I am coming into this game biased. I’m a big Penny Arcade fan, I’m a big SNES-era RPG fan, and combining those two things is an easy match for me to get behind. Episodes 1 and 2 surprised me with how much fun I could have in combat that focused a lot on consumable items. Being a fan of old RPGs, I had to unlearn my hoarding. If that bottle of weaksauce would make things easier right now then I needed to use it. There’s another bottle around the corner anyhow.
This third episode trades that item focus for a timeline focus. It’s possible (and important) to keep your enemy from firing off a big attack for as long as possible. You do this by using your abilities strategically. You need to sometimes sacrifice damage done to stall an enemy. If Tycho hits as hard as he ca,n the Crabomancer might wipe the entire party on his turn, but if he stalls it for three turns then Gabe and Anne can probably finish it off on their turns.
The player character from Episodes 1 and 2 is nowhere to be seen, and that’s a little disappointing, but 3 doesn’t feel incomplete without him. I’m sure that you can think of a macabre end for him between the second and third installments. The combat is more Grandia than Final Fantasy, and I’m glad that it is. The turn order being mutable makes choosing your attacks and timing an MP charge just right that much more important.
Like most RPGs, the story is front and center here, and I won’t spoil it for you. It’s as over the top as the first two installments, and even though there is a fresh coat of paint and mechanics in game three the writing is as sharp as ever and it’s clear that the guys at Penny Arcade worked closely with the developer at Zeboyd to ensure that they delivered a quality product.
You may not have heard of Zeboyd, but you should seek them out. Their previous titles, Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World, are RPGs cut from the same cloth as Rain-Slick 3. The graphics are retro but lovingly crafted, the writing is sharp with an emphasis placed on humor, and the price points are low as the games were released on the Xbox Indie channel and then later ported to PC for a Steam release. Oh, and the tw- man team met on the Penny Arcade message boards. You couldn’t ask for developers that care more about the source material than that.
Don’t let the 16-bit coat of paint fool you. Rain Slick 3 is a fully-featured RPG with beautiful graphics, great writing, and fun mechanics. Exploration is fun and rewarding, and finally seeing a third game made after Hothead decided it wasn’t worth it to continue the project is wonderful. If you like the oddball hijinks that Gabe and Tycho get into in the Penny Arcade comics, then this is the game for you. If you also happen to like classic RPGs, then it’s a match made in heaven.
Pros: Beautiful 16-bit inspired graphics, fun turn order battle mechanics
Cons: The player character from the first two games is absent without explanation