Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 is a comedic RPG with some parody elements and convenient features. I can't tell you too much about the story, as I don't want to spoil the game. Also, I can't fill you in on the backstory because... I haven't played the first two games. The reason I started on this game, and the fourth, is because they were in a pack and I had played the previous two games the new developers had done before getting asked to do these, which were Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World. That's where my perspective is coming from, so keep it in mind. Basically, you're a company that investigates supernatural happenings, and supernatural things happen. So... you investigate them. That's really all I can tell you without getting into potential spoiler territory.
You can explore specific locations on a world map with well defined places to go. Inside these places, you can search for treasure, battles, and main plot points for going there. While there is some interesting story and dialogue, the battles are the meat and potatoes of the game. The battles are nice because they are not random. Instead, they are represented by monsters clearly visible on the map. You battle in a turn based fashion, however there's a meter on the top of the screen. This determines the order the combatants will attack. It will be initially set by speed stats and certain passives, but it can also be changed by using slows, stuns, and interruptions. A combatant can also move up their position on the command line by defending, although this will not allow them to attack on that turn. So why bother? Well, to reduce major damage from a major attack, or possibly to help utilize another interesting mechanic. In this game, you don't have a pool of MP to work with. Instead, you start battles with zero MP and gain 1 MP per turn. So if you want to build it up, you can use items, use certain abilities to boost it, or simply do something that does not require MP. This forces you to manage your health and position on the timeline much more carefully, rather than having magic users spam abilities right from the get go.
So what gives you your abilities? Well, each character starts with their own class. The classes dictate what abilities, passive or active, these characters have. This will affect how you use them. Beyond this, as the game goes on you will receive badges, each with their own additional classes. You get to add one, and eventually two, to each party memeber. This gives them a total of three classes, and many possibilities on how you can build them. However, badges can only be on one person at a time, so you can't use the same class on every character at once. All of the badges and characters level up as you win battles, although the ones you actively use will level up faster. Also, you can further customize your characters with equipment as well.
This game is full of conveniences, such as the aforementioned blanket leveling and visible battles. Whenever you finish a battle, all characters are revived and restored. If you lose a battle, you get to try it again. You can save or change badges at any point. Convenient traveling through an easy world map, with shops in fixed positions and a training area to grind if needed. The game does a lot to try and ease the burdens of RPGs while still being an RPG.
However, I found a few things a bit disappointing. One is that there are too many classes leveling up constantly. It seems that after every battle, at least one if not multiple classes gain levels and often new abilities, which is a lot to look at and manage. You'll be constantly checking your new abilities to see what they do and who they will be good for, depending on how you're trying to build characters. Plus, the fighting system is somewhat complex for newcomers, which detracts from the game's convenience factor a bit. Also, while the game tries to teach you one thing at a time to gradually get you familiar with the gameplay (which I like), it feels like once you finally understand how to fight and manage your badges and equipment and strategize, the game is basically done. It also ends on a cliffhanger story-wise. So, this whole game essentially feels like it is a buildup for the sequel, both in story and basic gameplay ideas. Although the sequel (which I will review once I finish) is rather different in some aspects. I guess I just felt like the game was getting me ready for the real adventure to start, and then it abruptly ended.
Overall, it's still a good game. Fun for people new to RPGs and looking for good value games. The characters and story have enough charm to carry some of the weight. Plus all the conveniences, well paced learning curve, and constant upgrades to manage, make for an entertaining experience throughout. I guess it's good that the game left me wanting more rather than being sick of it, and the extra mode recommended after you finish the main game gives it some more for you to play and satisfy your cravings. However, I'd say that if you're looking at this game, which is only 5 dollars alone, you might as well just pay the 8 bucks and get the two pack because you'll be well prepared to take on the fourth game after this. I got them both on sale for a dollar which was well worth the price. Judging this game on its own, I'd give Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 a solid 6 out of 10 for being an engaging RPG experience without the common headaches that befall so many other RPGs.