When I found out that I would be attending PAX, one of the things I was most excited about was getting a really good look at the new Penny Arcade Adventures game being put together by Hothead Games with some help from Gabe and Tycho themselves. A few trailers have been out so far and in the last two days, a website has surfaced as well as the news that the game will be coming to XBLA. Well this morning I finally got a chance to see it for myself live and in person.First of all let me just say that the game has everything you would expect and want from a Penny Arcade game. A terrific art style, fun gameplay and hilarious dialogue. You kick off the game with a great character customisation screen. You can play a male or female character and for a comic style game, you get a surprising amount of variety in facial features, clothes and body types. One great mechanic has your character checking him or herself out whenever you change outfits. The amount of work that goes into the customisation is pretty amazing seeing as not only do you see your character in 3D for the game scenes, but he/she is rendered live in 2D as well for the comic book cut scenes.
After the comic panel style intro featuring your customised character, you join up with Gabe and Tycho to solve the mystery of the giant marauding robot that opens the game by tromping it's way through your yard. Once your team is together you can use their various powers (individually and together) to plow your way through such iconic enemies as hobos, clowns mimes and even barber shop quartets. Just as in real life, Gabe's powers rely solely on fisticuffs and up close combat while Tycho (whose moves are the most powerful in the game) takes care of the ranged combat with a tommy gun and his trusty book (reading is power!). Your player character is the melee weapon fighter, starting off with a rake and eventually upgrading to other weapons along the way. Battles are turned based with timed initiatives and each special move requires a "mini game" to complete such as mashing the space bar repeatedly or doing timed moves with the directional arrows. Team combo moves can be done with two or three characters relying on a metre system to let you know when your power up is ready for use.
Watching the game really made me reminisce about the old point and click Lucas Arts games, on which PAA is heavily based. Engaging in dialogue with NPCs will give you a variety of choices in answers, many resulting in additional razor sharp commentary by Gabe and Tycho. It should be noted that there are no voiceovers in the game and all conversation is done through comic style word balloons with dialog that had me laughing aloud a lot.
The game is set to be released simultaneously on MAC, PC and Linux with the XBLA version coming soon after. Despite the doubts that many people had concerning the game after the first trailer was shown, I think I can confidently say that gamers will be more than pleased when the first episode is finally released later this year. And in case you were wondering, there will be teabagging, but I'm not going to tell you where. That, you will have to discover for yourself.