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There’s a big-game hunter nearby. That can’t be good for our trio.
The second installment of the critics-turned-designers’ Penny Arcade Adventures serial comes off like a great band releasing a good second album that sounds just like their first. We still found the game’s groove. The humorous writing, adventure-style problem-solving, and concise game mechanics are back. But they just don’t pop like they did in the original, and playing Episode Two is almost like playing the first again.
Episode Two picks up immediately after the first game, even letting you import your custom character from that adventure. If you skipped that title or want to start fresh, a handful of character attributes—about five each of hairstyle, eye shape, body type, and more—mold your player. You’ll pal around with the comic strip’s duo, chasing after giant robots, the exceedingly wealthy, and other foes.
The writing and art excel again in this chapter. Simple mouse commands move the trio through 3D scenes, and the animation engine looks just like one of the comics. Dialogue choices and situations again had us laughing out loud, and the strength of the writing extends everywhere; even the enemy’s attacks made us chuckle, such as a socialite hurting you with the Charleston. You don’t have to read the comics to appreciate the jokes, although a few inside references are here for the fans.
The humor and violent, yet cartoony, action are pitched at an adult audience, though some jokes are admittedly juvenile. As before, a fairly fun mechanic controls the turn-based fights. Mouse clicks charge up attacks and use items, a well-timed Spacebar press blocks foes, and super-attack minigames keep things fairly interesting. For example, to deal a devastating assault with your garden hoe, you’ll have to repeatedly hit the Spacebar at the right moment while following a swinging clock-hand. The result crushes an enemy into multiple chunks, which is graphic but toned down by the visual style.
Episode Two feels just like Episode One, which is both good and bad. We wouldn’t want—or expect—drastic changes, but the game loses some luster after you’ve already played the first. We enjoyed the battle mechanic overall, but it eventually grows repetitive, especially fighting excessive henchmen before the final showdown. We liked a short nonsequitur puzzle game but wanted a few more risks in that style to make Episode Two stand out.Penny Arcade Adventures, Episode Two delivers another entertaining chapter to the fun Penny Arcade video game saga. But while the story is new, actually playing the game feels too much like playing the original.