It's difficult to believe that it has been nearly four years since the last game in the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness series released. Many were heartbroken to hear that the original plan of four episodes would be cut short, leaving the rest of the story untold.
Fortunately for Rain-Slick fans, the long awaited continuation of the series was teased at PAX Prime 2011, and was shown in playable form at PAX East 2012. A lot has changed with the switch from Hothead to Zeboyd as the developers, but this long-awaited continuation does not look like it will disappoint.
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The most obvious difference in the transition from Hothead to Zeboyd is in the graphical style. Where previous entries in the series attempted to emulate Mike Krahulik's art in a three-dimensional world, Rain-Slick 3 features Zeboyd's signature Final Fantasy VI-esque pixel art. As in their previous efforts, the environments and character art are about what one would expect from a big budget title twenty years ago, and I mean that in a good way.
The next big change is in the battle system. In earlier episodes, combat featured a time element where more powerful abilities became available depending on how long a character waited before acting. Rain-Slick 3 is pretty strictly turn-based, although Zeboyd's take on the old formula feels familiar despite existing in an entirely different battle engine than previous episodes. Characters begin battles with zero mana, and accrue one point every turn. Thus, after a few turns of vanilla attacks, characters can use more powerful abilities.
One slight bummer for fans of the series is that the protagonist from the previous games, who the developers referred to as "man or woman with the rake," will not appear in the third episode of the series. As an upside, there will be many more playable characters in Rain-Slick 3 than have been in the other episodes, with Anne-Claire appearing as the third party member in the PAX demo. As for the man (or woman) with the rake, his (or her) absence will be explained through the narrative, for those curious.
Speaking of the storytelling, Jerry Holkins's writing is just as present in this entry, if not more so than in the previous two. The dialogue between characters is great, and the tongue-in-cheek enemy design is hilarious. One of the coolest elements of the demo is what Holkins refers to as "world building." Each enemy type has a few lines of flavor text associated with it, which serves to really flesh out what would normally be a relatively standard RPG battle. In one instance, I found myself fighting a barbershop quartet, and each member's unique flavor text imparted a bit of personality to him, despite the fact that they all essentially behaved the same as one another.
The demo ended just as it was introducing the class mechanic. It appears to be akin to the job system found in games like Final Fantasy V or Tactics, where each character can equip different classes in order to gain different sets of abilities. Unlike the job system in those games, characters in Rain-Slick 3 can equip multiple classes at one time.
Fans of the On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness series have a lot to look forward to in the third episode. Although the manner of exploration and battle is substantially different, it maintains the narrative feel of the series. Zeboyd expects to release Rain-Slick 3 some time this summer, on Xbox Live Indie Games, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.