If you’ve read Penny Arcade for a long time (and I mean read, not the comic itself), you’ll probably noticed the idiosyncratic style of Tycho (aka Jerry Holkins). I’m not sure I would call it a good writing per se, but he has a unique way with words thats hard to resists. He’s probably one of the few bloggers I not merely come back to for the content, but the actual delivery. Yeah, I like the comic too, but the writing is what sells it to me.
But even after years of reading his posts, I would have never thought that it could translate into a game that, despite all the various deviations and the excessive wordiness of the scripts and with the Gabe and Tycho personas at its core, carries not only a sort of coherent but even enjoyable and compelling story. Sure, the game is mostly your typical jRPG in terms of gameplay mechanics, which means is even less interactive than a play your own adventure book, but in this case this is actually a win.
Story is king here, if you happen to like completely deranged fantasy where one of the main characters is part of a legacy that regularly kills gods, plans to destroy the current universe and clears a sub-dimension of all god-seeds to not let them create the next universe. The other one is a deranged imbecile and then there’s the head in a bottle. I’m really not making this up.
The plot and the entire setting uses allusions to pop memes and various genre tropes to create a persiflage that becomes its own thing fast and while you can’t take it all seriously, neither is it really a joke. I’m not saying it’s for everyone, hell, Tycho’s style is an acquired taste after all, but if you run with it, you’ll get a pretty unique experience no other game will offer.
And while the game is mostly a vehicle for Tycho’s writing, Zeboyd Games has thrown in a few mechanics that make it worth your while if you happen to like old-school SNES jRPGs but can’t stand random battles or the xth fight again generic fantasy creatures. The game has no random battles (thank god every battle is hand-placed), has an ingenious magic system that avoids that you rarely use magic (each turn you get some mana), offers plenty of weird enemies that makes EarthBound look mundane and even throws in a Dragon Quest look-alike sequence (though the battles look more like early Final Fantasy).
The only thing I found annoying was that the game ended on a sort of cliffhanger, but hopefully we don’t have to wait four more years to see the entire series to its conclusion.