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Video Game / Penny Arcade Adventures

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Four Gods wait on the windowsill
Where once eight Gods did war and will,
And if the gods themselves may die,
What does that say for you and I?

The Quartet For The Dusk Of Man, first verse
Tycho Ephemerous Brahe

Penny Arcade Adventures is an episodic video game series based on the Penny Arcade web-comic series.

Hothead Games released the first two episodes of On The Rain-Slick Precipice Of Darkness. This adventure features familiar characters from Penny Arcade transplanted into 1920s America, battling the dark forces of evil gods and those who would use their power for evil.

The series was supposed to be a tetralogy, but ultimately Hothead Games abandoned the plans for the third episode to pursue other products. Supposedly Hothead Studios said that the games weren't profitable enough to continue the series and that a third episode would be only be made if the first two sold enough copies. This, combined with the studio's focus on DeathSpank , caused the Penny Arcade guys to nix the idea, though both parties declined to elaborate on the falling out. A brief kerfuffle ensued when, after a large spike of sales upon the game's debut in the Mac Store, Hot Head tweeted that a third game would be made if 100,000 sales were made, something that the Penny Arcade creators immediately denied. The tweet was quickly deleted. After a while, Jerry Holkins ("Tycho," writer of both the game and the webcomic) decided to continue the series in prose form, giving the fans a taste of what the third episode's story would have been like.

That seemed like the end of it until the Penny Arcade team contracted with Zeboyd Games, the developer behind Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World, to produce Episode 3 as a 16-bit-styled RPG. This game was released on June 25, 2012 on Steam and June 29, 2012 for Xbox Live Indie Games. Ports for the Mac, iOS, and Android were released on October 25, 2012. With them came the Lair of the Seamstress DLC, a challenging dungeon for overachievers that unlocks once the player has maxed out their Class Pins in the main game. The second DLC, The Beginning of the End, was released on December 21, 2012, and elaborates on the fate of "Rake Guy" (the player character from the first two games). The fourth and final episode of Precipice was released on June 7, 2013.

This game provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: The Omnibus fires amethyst shards, able to turn human matter into a substance similar to tomato powder.
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: Episodes 3, like previous Zeboyd games, have a soft cutoff point at level 40 (no more skills can be earned), but no theoretical limit to level. Unlike previous games, the lack of random encounters makes the only source of repeatable XP the Colosseum, and that is rather stingy where XP is concerned. Class Pins also gain no benefit from extra levels, as they solely provide abilities and passive effects, which cutoff at 40.
    • This goes double for The Beginning of the End DLC in Episode 3, and the entirety of Episode 4, where the same level cap applies except you're incapable of ever even reaching 40, much less beyond.
  • Action Commands: In Episode 1 and 2, blocking requires hitting Space when "Block!" shows up under the enemy. Special attacks also use a minigame sequence.
  • Alien Blood: A very bizarre case. Clowns have rainbow colored blood.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The Elemenstor Class Pin in Episode 3 gives the user access to the single-target element spells of the entire party (Gabe's fire, Tycho's ice, Jim's earth, and Moira's wind), plus element-enhanced physical attacks for each and the ability to render enemies more vulnerable to elemental attacks.
  • Anachronism Stew: When talking to the mime at Desperation Street in the first episode, one of the dialogue options the player has is singing The Name Game, using the word "mime". This song didn't even exist back in the 1920s.
    • During the credits sequence of Episode 2, the villains are seen rocking out to the music using musical instruments labeled with the Hothead Games logo as a Credits Gag.
  • Artifact of Death: Tycho subscribes to one of several catalogs about them and comes across a few items later on.
  • Art Shift: The bank level in Episode 3 has a sub-level in the 8-bit style of the previous Zeboyd games. There's also a Star Trek-styled sub-level later on.
    • How about the entirety of Episode 3 and 4? Radically different in art style from the first two games.
  • Ascended Extra: Jim went from being a decoration in the Detective Agency in the Hothead games to being a party member in Episode 3.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: In Episode 3, Gabe's strongest attack is a defense-piercing physical attack that costs 9 mana to use. Properly buffed, Gabe can deal 45,000 damage in a single hit. You will get to use this spell twice on a good round, and that requires devoting your entire party to buffing Gabe so he can execute the attack. That said, if you can last enough rounds to pull this off, you've basically won every single boss battle save the Final Boss and the Bonus Boss, who have prohibitively large amounts of health.
    • The Seamstress Class Pin's strongest attack is a massive holy spell that hits all targets. Unfortunately, it costs as much mana to use as Gabe's ultimate attack, and although very strong, doesn't have the same raw damage that does (nor does it bypass defenses).
  • A Wizard Did It: Lampshaded and Played for Laughs in Episode 4. When Gabe asks Hestia why the Shattered World/Floating Continent they are on does not fall down:
    Hestia: It's magic.
    Gabe: Right, but who DID the magic?
    Hestia: A wizard.
    Gabe: Oh yeah, that is just like them.
  • Badass Adorable: Anne-Claire.
  • Badass Boast: "Come rake, let us perform our dark work."
  • Badass Bookworm: Tycho.
  • Badass Longcoat: The player character from the first two games can wear one, and is wearing one in Episode 3 before being stuffed in a sack by Tycho.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Albeit a Pyrrhic Victory. The Big Bad successfully brings about the end of existence, but Gabe kills him moments afterward, robbing him of being able to bask in his victory. Also, thanks to Tycho's planning, Anne-Claire is set to make a new existence eventually.
  • Bag of Sharing: Despite a large portion of Episode 4 being spent with a split party, item upgrades are shared by both, explained as a resonance effect of the Item Duplicator when it split in two on arrival.
  • Bag of Spilling:
    • Downplayed with the first two episodes. You lose every combat item and your upgraded weapons between episodes (one of which is actually destroyed in the second game before the action starts), but you get to keep some of the plot-important items you collected in the first episode. You also remain at a relatively high level (13) even when starting from scratch. If you load your character from the previous episode, you keep your high level (15 if you worked for it) and the phonograph speaker from the previous episode, which allows you to construct the alcoholic Phonograph ally when you buy the player it attaches to.
    • Episode 3, being by a different developer, doesn't carry over progress from the previous games, so all those "secret" items from Mordo's apartment and the lockbox key from Dr. Stripe are useless. Within the game itself, if you play the prologue DLC first, which you should, you don't keep the progress earned in that in the main game. The Lair of the Seamstress DLC also drops you down to level 1 when you enter it, but each time you beat an encounter you get two levels back, and it only applies to that dungeon.
    • Episode 4 justifies this on account of the party, at the end of Episode 3, being sent to the Underhell. Due to the nature of the place, their abilities are useless on the foes there, and they must rely on training creatures native to that realm to fight for them. Additionally, their item Duplicator was damaged during the transition, and lost most of the aftermarket upgrades, resetting it to the stock version.
  • Bedlam House: Cloying Odor Sanitarium in Episode 2. Decrepit Victorian architecture? Check. Creepy fog and withered trees? Check. Deranged roaming crazies? Check. Corrupt owner, who keeps otherwise sane people prisoner to bill their families so he can finance his own personal pursuits? Hell yes, that's a check. Electroshocks and pills given out like Pez? That's a playable level.
  • Bee-Bee Gun: The "Garden of Dangerous Bees" spell in Episode 3, a self-repeating, attack-all-enemies spell with decent damage.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: It is implied that everyone in history ever to be named Tycho Brahe was a member of the Long Project. Which also makes this a Historical Villain Upgrade and a Historical Hero Upgrade, since everyone in the Long Project is both an Omnicidal Maniac and a Well-Intentioned Extremist prepared to commit to a mass Heroic Sacrifice - the historical Tycho Brahe was neither (so far as we know).
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Downplayed, as the characters both end up in a comfortable afterlife, but allowing the destruction of the universe is generally a poor way to end a detective career.
    • Episode 4 is much the same. The Fourth God is destroyed, Gabe and co seem satisfied with their afterlife, and the new universe is well on its way to being formed under Anne-Claire's guidance (with Rake Guy there for backup, apparently), but Tycho had to be killed (by Moira) in order to stop the Fourth God for good.
  • Black Comedy Rape:
    Swindell: "...I am also park security. I am licenced to sodomize unruly guests!"
    (Beat; the entire party has their "Oh, Crap!" faces on.)
    Gabe: "I don't think I'd like that..."
  • Bonus Boss: Molly the were-zompire is the final boss of the Colosseum in Episode 3. She's easily stronger than the final boss, but beating her earns an Infinity +1 Sword for Gabe.
    • Episode 4 has several: Cthulhu, the Dark versions of the characters guarding the last piece of the Knife Shoes, and Dr. Missingno (a glitched out version of Dr. Blood).
  • Bonus Dungeon: The Lair of the Seamstress DLC. Falls short of being a Brutal one because of how certain items work.
    • Episode 4 has R'lyeh, which can only be reached by flying off the edge of the map.
  • Boss Remix: The theme for Yog Modaigh and The Brahinite is a dramatic, orchestral remix of Doctor Blood's theme.
  • Brain in a Jar: Jim, a floating skull in a jar. He communicates through various gurgles and changes in the color of the liquid he floats in.
  • Brick Joke: At the beginning of Episode 2, if the player refuses to go with the duo the first few times, Gabriel tells you they're going to a fair, which is shot down by Tycho. The end of the game ends up taking place at the World's Fair.
    Gabriel: God. Finally!
  • Brutal Bonus Level: The Lair of the Seamstress DLC is actually advertised as such. In practice, it's not that bad thanks to certain items breaking the mechanic.
  • Buffy Speak: Used by Gabe when investigating the mysterious (and smelly) goo at Hobo Alley.
    Gabe: This is foul. This is like...shit poop.
  • The Bus Came Back: The Player Character's fate will be shown in the DLC for Episode 3, where he/she was suddenly gone.
  • But Thou Must!/Refusal of the Call: At the beginning of Episode 2, you can repeatedly tell Tycho and Gabe that you're pretty calm and refuse to come with them. For several days. There's even an Achievement for delaying.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": The "urinologist" hobo doesn't want you to kill hobos... except he does.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: And will smash your house. Repeatedly.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Gabe, being a former prizefighter and all.
  • Cliffhanger: Episode 3. While Gabe, Tycho and Doctor Blood seem to die, Moira and Jim survive, albeit banished to what looks like Hell. The final shot shows that Tycho actually survived, but
  • Colon Cancer: Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One.
  • Contest Winner Cameo: In Episode 1, he's the guy manning the Flying Pricks, Balls and Holes, and Vandalism booths at Pelican Bay.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Tycho is repeatedly thrown against a marble wall, before being torn apart, with no hope or method of resistance.
  • Crutch Character: Anne-Claire in Episode 3, since she's four levels above your characters and the only healer (potions run out and are needed to rez downed party members).
  • Dancing Mook Credits: The credit sequences of the first two games have this as well, with various kinds of enemies doing silly dances.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: It's uncertain what Jim's alignment actually is given how he communicates in gurgling and color changing, but he's a party member in Episode 3. His starting class, Necromaster, gives him powerful dark magic and the ability to summon the dead to his aid.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Some of the dialogue choices in both games lets the PC be one.
    • Tycho is made of this.
    • Jim gets his fair share in 4.
  • Death Is Cheap: Game mechanics aside, there's an instance of this in Episode 3. After getting through to the vaults in the bank, Tycho claims that it wasn't that hard. Gabe immediately points out that he died. Tycho dismissively says it was only once, and he brought Gabe right back.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Several of the party members in Episode 4 are earned by beating them in combat.
  • Demonic Possession: Tycho is possessed by the Fourth God after he kills its previous body.
  • Deus Est Machina: Yog Kathak, God of Gears. It possessed the Fruit Fucker Prime, making this a literal case of Deus Est Machina.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Tycho failed to consider that beating a golem made of crystal to death might damage said crystal, which he needed.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The whole point of the series, really. You beat down one god per episode, to varying degrees of success.
    • Gabe does this quite literally, fists being his main weapon. Tycho lampshades it when they go to kill Yog Sethis:
      Tycho: Let me put it this way: how would you like to punch a God?
      Gabe: ...
      Tycho: ...
      Gabe: ...yes.
      Tycho: Good man.
    • You also get to give Yog Kathak a beating, but that doesn't defeat it. A giant robot doll piloted by a young girl does that part.
    • Yog Modaigh's defeat is said to be only temporary, but he still boasts of having the power to easily kill you yet falls anyway. At the end of the third game, he is destroyed completely by a reaction with Tycho's blood that turns him into a portal to the Underhell.
    • It's also mentioned that Gabe got started in the paranormal investigation field after a bare-knuckle boxing match with Satan.
    • In Episode 4, it is possible to literally punch out Cthulhu, after which he joins your party.
  • Diesel Punk: 1920s America? Band of gritty outcasts as the heroes? Anachronistic mad-science-style technology? Ancient conspiracies and cults? Fantasy and Sci-fi elements sitting alongside mundane satires of Real Life? This is probably the most diesel-punky game in existence!
  • Downloadable Content: Episode 3 had two, released for free. The first is the Lair of the Seamstress, a Brutal Bonus Level which appears if you get every Class Pin to level 40. The second is The Beginning Of The End, which reveals the fate of the player character from the first two games.
  • Duel Boss: One boss in Episode 4 limits you to a single character, but you get a huge level boost for the duration. You can also swap out your injured party members for others with the Switch item.
  • Dumb Muscle: Gabe.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Gabe punches the main antagonist so much, that he fails to notice the end of the universe, before finally falling into Hell.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: Dr. Wolfington, who has several taxidermy trophies of fearsome creatures, also had a vested interest in institutionalizing the Brahe clan.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Four of them. One dies per game. According to the intro verse of Episode 1, there were originally eight of them. The four that died earlier were the good ones. They were Yog Kudl, God of Kittens; Yog Korisp, God of Healthy Snacks; Yog Crimi, God of Cream; and Yog Supp, God of Being Cool And Just Hangin' Out, Man.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Episode 3 and 4 both use this. The final battle of Episode 3 gives a damage bonus to all holy attacks (including the powerful attacks Gabe and Moira learn near the end). The final battle of 4 is even better, as it gives all your characters access to Tycho's overpowered "Scholar" skills (including double MP and a party-wide huge magic boost). Many other battles throughout both (especially boss battles) have assorted helpful or hurtful temporary effects.
  • Empathic Weapon: If the Omnibus isn't given the proper respect, it'll drop ammo at your feet, expecting you to try firing them yourself.
  • "End of the World" Special: In contrast with the Brahe cult's objective, which is to end the cycle of rebirth, Tycho (our Tycho) instead decides to seed the next world with a perfectly good individual (Anne-Claire) so that the next version will not suck quite so much.
  • Enemy Mine: Episode 4 has Gabe team up with Dr Blood, who proceeds to act like a doofus for the first half of the game.
  • Enemy Mime: A whole cult of Enemy Mimes. Oh, and one friendly one. Who is, for some reason, a scientist in addition to a mime.
    • Who happen to be worshipping Yog Sethis, the final boss of Episode 1 and MIME GOD.
  • Enemy Without: The final boss of The Beginning of the End DLC is Tycho's guilt given form.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Lair of the Seamstress DLC has Dark versions of the player characters, as does Episode 4, which guard the final piece of the Infinity +1 Sword.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Shithole. It has apartments for rent, but you don't want them.
    Tycho: The Shithole, you say?
  • Face–Heel Turn: Doctor Blood in 3. Tycho in 4 on account of Demonic Possession.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The Player Character from the first two installments is shoved inside a burlap sack early in the Beginning of the End DLC, keeping us from seeing them. They are only referred to as "You" or by pronouns that Tycho just made up earlier in the day. This is presumably due to the customizable nature of the protagonist in the earlier games. This trait is referred to in the game - Tycho perceives "You" as a vibrating being, a cluster of superimposed possibilities. Which is probably why he had them sealed into the Periphery.
  • Fight Woosh: Dial F for Fight Woosh!
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: Underhell's primary background. There are other areas, such as an evil forest and a mechanical tower. Overhell is a fair bit nicer until you go inside his body..
  • Fling a Light into the Future: Tycho has sealed Anne-Claire in the Periphery in Episode 3, and the Rake Guy from the first two games in The Beginning of the End. The Periphery holds the seeds that will start the next universe, and Tycho's family has systematically eliminated everything that calls it home. He knows that the universe is going to end, but a universe started by Claire would be one worth living in, and the Rake Guy will be there to protect her.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The ending of the Zeboyd game adaption of Episode 3 is no surprise.
  • Freudian Excuse: Dr. Blood explains that he brought together an elder god because the Necrowombicon promised to reunite him with his lost love, Hestia. It just didn't mention they would be reunited in Hell.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Anne-Claire. Also a Teen Genius.
  • Genre Shift: Not exactly a shift of broad genres, but a significant shift of sub-genres. The first two episodes are a 3D Cell Shaded modern role-playing with some throwback features, while Episode 3 is a Retraux of old 16-bit Eastern RPGs with some modern features—par for the course for Zeboyd.
  • Glass Cannon: The collectible weapons in the Lair of the Seamstress DLC turn the characters into this, and one is actually made of glass (not counting Jim's jar).
  • Global Airship: In Episode 4, a friendly Daewhale will fly you around the map for the entirety of Chapter 11. It also lets you fly to the Very Definitely Final Dungeon, but that's a one-way trip.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang / Terrible Trio: Fish Force in Episode 4, an obvious Expy of Team Rocket. They even have their own theme song!
  • Gold Makes Everything Shiny: A machine in the wealthy neighborhood Riverbrook gildifies most anything you put in it, though, for plot reasons, it will only allow one of your needed items.
  • Golem: The guards of the local bank vaults are various types of golems. The strongest ones are simply called "Defender Golems", but below that there are Bronze, Silver and Gold Golems, in increasing order of strength.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: One look at Dr. Wolfington's face and it's pretty obvious he's evil.
  • Guest-Star Party Member:
    • Anne-Claire joins the party for the first area of Episode 3.
    • Tycho joins the various parties for specific sections of the game in Episode 4. The fact that he's a lot stronger than your characters makes up for the fact that he takes the place of the bottom of the four.
  • The Gunslinger: Tycho uses a Thompson sub-machine gun in Episode 1, followed by a shotgun in Episode 2 and both in Episode 3.note  Also, new character Moira wields pistols in Episode 3 and Episode 4.
  • Harder Than Hard: Insane mode, where most battles are over in three rounds or so—either you are dead, or the enemy is.
  • Hell Has New Management: In Episode 4 - being consigned to The Underhell failed to slow down Hestia even a little bit - the usurpation took mere months, and now an army of enslaved souls are busy tearing a hole in reality in order to open a portal back to Earth and facilitate a Roaring Rampage of Revenge in that general direction. Of course, if the heroes just happen to show up in Hell anyway, well, that makes things so much simpler...
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: In the Xbox 360 version, the player character's default name is the same as your gamertag. Looks especially narm-ish if you use a lot of numbers and/or improbable capitalization in your tag (though, you can change his/her name anyway). In the other versions, it's either Carl or Carla.
  • The Hero Dies: Both of the heroes die, with varying levels of dignity and awesome.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Tycho with his ex-wife Moira. Although how "heroic" Tycho is, well... that's up for debate.
  • Hidden Depths: Jim, Gabe and Tycho's deceased friend who is now a skull preserved in a jar, goes from a curio in their office to a full playable party member in Episode 3. Though incapable of speech, everyone seems to get the gist of what he means through bubbling and coloring of his preservative fluid. In Episode 4, he gains an ectoplasmic body under his skull and the ability so speak, and quickly proves himself quite intelligent and eloquent, and well-versed in a number of arcane and mystical subjects, though a bit prone to Tempting Fate.
  • Hobos:
    • You get to kill hobos and use them as meat in Episode 1. An advocate for the homeless requests the meat so that he can make a stew... for the hobos. You can then eat some for a stat boost.
    Gabe: "I could stand to kill a few more hobos."
    • One of the hobos is the world's leading urinologist. He asks you to bring him a rare Ferris wheel model so he can pee on it. Urinology sounds like the bogus delusion of a deranged man hopped up on moonshine until you meet several reputed scientists in Episode 2 who consider urinology a ground breaking field.
    • You visit Hobo Alley in Episode 3 to chase down Tycho's magical cezve, and one of the Class Pins gives the wearer the power of Hobos (namely better strength and a poison-like effect called "Hoboism").
    • The Beginning of the End DLC has hobo mimes.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight:
    • In Episode 2, twice with Fruit Fucker Prime; the first time is when you approach it before you're supposed to, you get crushed by its foot instantly. The second instance is when you actually face him.
    • In Episode 2, the first battle against Charles.
  • Hot Blooded Sideburns: Gabe, unlike his comic strip counterpart.
  • Humongous Mecha: Fruit Fucker Prime and Anne-Claire's huge robot girl in Episode 2.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: The Fourth God possesses Tycho after his previous body is destroyed. The player party is able to beat Tycho back to his senses, but even then he has to ask Moira to shoot him in order to finally finish his life's work.
  • Identical Grandson: All of Tycho's ancestors look like Tycho (albeit with differences in build, facial hair, etc). Most of them are also called Tycho. It's very confusing.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • The Player Character with his or her gardening tools.
    • The first and third episodes allude to a whole warrior-culture named Gardenars, who solely used weaponized gardening tools in combat and utilized "garden magic".
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Player Character, after giving a bunch of "delicious" hobo meat to a social worker and eating the stew that he cooked using it. It gives you +50 max HP, though, so there's that.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: In Episode 3, Gabe can get one from the Bonus Boss. There's also the Seamstress pin from the Bonus Dungeon, which gives +100 to all stats. Episode 4 has the Knife Shoes, obtained by gathering three different parts scattered around the world.
  • Interactive Narrator: About halfway through the fourth game, Tycho reveals that he can hear the narrator that's been presenting the entire series. In the end, it turns out that the narrator is the fourth god.
  • It Runs in the Family: Most of the Brahe Clan have an obsession with the Apocalyptics, and much to Tycho's annoyance, one known Brahe of each generation has technically been put in a sanitarium.
  • Just for Pun: Many items found in the games, e.g. "Healium Gas" to restore health.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Tycho inflicts amnesia upon Gabe to erase his memory of the "Rake Guy" in The Beginning of the End DLC, by summoning the spirit of Lucifer within him.
  • Kill Sat: Anne-Claire's "Big Bang Theory" attack in the second episode.
  • Laser Blade: The player gets a laser hoe as their third weapon upgrade in Episode 2.
  • Leaked Experience: In Episode 3, unused Class Pins gain 65% of any experience the party earns.
  • Lemony Narrator: Who is the narrator? We don't know. We do know he's a force with presence, enough power to resurrect people (even if it is tiring), a vested interest in the Player Character, and an interest in killing the gods that pop up. Also, he seems to enjoy windsurfing... weather permitting, of course. Episode 4 reveals the narrator is actually the fourth and final god.
  • Level Grinding: There is very little level grinding in the first two games, since they have a finite amount of enemies. The respawning enemies in the third game grant a pitiful amount of experience for the effort required to defeat them, so it is simply not worth it unless you leveled in such a manner that one or more of your Class Pins are below level 40 at the end of the game (unlocking the Lair of the Seamstress DLC requires all Class Pins to be "mastered"—that is, level 40 or higher). Episode 4 follows in the steps of the first two, possessing no respawning enemies to grind on.
  • Lighter and Softer: Zigzagged with the Zeboyd-made episodes 3 and 4. While the trademark Penny Arcade style humor from the Hothead games is mostly intact, there's significantly less swearing and raunchy jokes, but on the other hand, the story is considerably darker.
  • Long Title: Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness — Episode X
  • Luck-Based Mission: When playing Episode 3 on Insane, beating the Crabomancer at Pelican Bay is entirely dependent on how often and on who he decides to use his devastating claw attack. Since you only have two potions for reviving characters, and the claw is a One-Hit Kill on a character who isn't blocking, you lose if he manages three knockouts before you've got him near-death. Later levels have the benefit of letting you level grind at the Colosseum. A patch released later on nerfed his claw attack, making this battle somewhat easier.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The antagonists of Episode 3, though more so the masks.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • The special attack of Fuschia, Anne-Claire's reformed Fruit Fucker from Episode 1, is an explosion of rainbow-colored light that gets stronger (and bigger, eventually causing the camera to zoom out to show just how big the explosion is) the more you use it.
    • The "Slacker" class, which is Exactly What It Says On The Pin, is largely pointless at first glance. Its main attack, "Tool Around", does nothing, and the class gains new abilities very slowly. As the class gains levels, though, Tool Around will start accumulating random effects that can occur when it's used, such as fully healing the party, dealing damage to all enemies, or just hitting an enemy weakly. The class eventually gets a couple of decent skills, but not until it approaches the point of "mastery", level 40.
  • Magitek: Robots powered by a Tome of Eldritch Lore.
  • Medium Awareness: The characters occasionally make note of game mechanics in Episode 3, and Tycho even notes that they're in a game at one point.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: The villains of each episode are essentially hastening the apocalypse. The Brahe clan takes this a step further, eliminating every living thing in the Periphery so that there will be nothing left to restart existence once that happens. Tycho, a somewhat more reasonable sort, instead plans on restarting it according to his design by trapping Anne-Claire there. He reasons that they can't prevent the end of the universe, so they should at least do it right rather than let the villains do it wrong.
  • Mons: The main feature of Episode 4 is that, due to how powerful the enemies are compared to the other episodes, the characters are forced to capture and train their own monsters to fight them instead, using "monstorbs", very much like Pokémon.
  • Monster Clown: The local mime cult hangs out at the Pelican Bay boardwalk. The worship the Lovecraftian God of Mimes, and gain corresponding powers from it.
  • Most Definitely Not a Villain: A Running Gag with the Broodax, parasite monsters in the Star Trek level in Episode 3, including Tycho.
  • Multiple Endings: There are two endings to Episode 3. If you ignore Tycho's request to visit the Periphery prior to the final boss fight, you get the fake final boss and the fake ending. The real one requires taking his requested detour, which includes an extra boss and the true final boss instead of the weakened version.
  • Mundane Afterlife: The setting of Episode 4 is the Underhell, where everyone everywhere went after the rest of existence was obliterated at the end of Episode 3. It is not entirely a Fire and Brimstone Hell, just mostly one, and can quite pleasant (or not) outside of that. The damned even build comfortable little villages, connected by an Afterlife Express (though you really do not want to ride it).
  • Mythology Gag: Quite a few to Penny Arcade and related projects, especially in Episode 3:
    • For Penny Arcade's stable of characters: not only are Tycho, Gabe, and Anne regular characters, but Charles is a boss fight, Fruit Fuckers are enemies, Twisp and Catsby help you maintain your sanity, Divx is a support character, and Dr. Darktalon Raven Blood is a major character.
    • On Insane Mode in Episode 2, you can dress up as the Cardboard Tube Samurai. It shows up again in Episode 3 as a Class Pin.
    • The Class Pin "Gardenar" alludes to the MIA player avatar from the first two Penny Arcade games, right down to Rake special attack, which causes bleeding. Appropriately, when he appears in The Beginning of the End DLC, the Rake Guy's class is set to Gardenar.
    • The prose version of Episode 3 features goth kid Agonast, originally created as a parody of the fan-made darker versions of Diablo III screenshots, as a pathetic wannabe wizard.
    • Another Class Pin, "Elemenstor", comes from Epic Legends Of The Hierarchs, a Stylistic Suck project that's written by Tycho in the strip's universe.
    • The Crabomancer and Professor Necro-Dead bosses (and the "Crabomancer" class) come from this strip parodying Rise of Immortals, and the Crabomancer was actually added to RoI itself for April Fool's Day.
    • The second boss, the Chronosaurus, is Rex Ready, a time-travelling, British T-Rex spy.
    • The Broodax, enemies in the Star Trek level, come from these strips, which parody the Alien chestbursters and similar aliens.
    • Monster allies in Episode 4 include a Deep Crow, Twisp and Catsby, and a Broodax.
    • There are a number of callbacks in Episode 3 to Zeboyd's other games: "[X] forced herself into your party!" (Anne-Claire, in this case) was a Running Gag in Breath of Death VII, and Bonus Boss Molly the Were-Zompire is from their second game. In Episode 4, Cthulhu, Umi, and Paws from Cthulhu Saves the World are a Bonus Boss encounter, and Cthulhu joins your party if you win.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Episode 2: You activate a newfangled monorail-type system to crash into the World's Fair Dome to make an opening. Unfortunately, the train was packed with passengers. Oops.
  • Noodle Implements: In Episode 3, Gabe finds out that Tycho records and reviews every phone call they receive. He's quick to insist that the hamster was important and sometimes you just need that much mayo. He likes sandwiches.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The Underhell zoo in Episode 4 has a breakout every few days.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The theme for the Fruit Fucker Prime.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Tycho reveals a quarter of the way through Episode 3 that the Brahe clan has spent the last several decades purposefully eradicating the seeds from which the Periphery recreates the universe, believing there is no point in recreating existence again and again when it will only be destroyed in an unending cycle. Tycho, however, turns away from this in favor of having Anne-Claire rebuild the world.
  • One-Hit Kill: The Reaper Bonus Boss in Episode 4 has this as his schtick. It's literally his only attack, and it will never fail to kill who it hits (barring auto-revive abilities).
  • Party Scattering: The party is broken into two, two-person groups in Episode 4, with Tycho popping up in both groups every now and then.
  • People Puppets: The main antagonists of Episode 3, and even Tycho at one point, are possessed by the spirits in the masks they are made to wear.
  • Permanently Missable Content: In Episode 3, anything the player fails to collect in the "past" dimension in the Hark house is lost when the split party reunites back in the present. The same applies to the Art Shift levels in the bank.
  • Psychological Torment Zone: Underhell physically and mentally corrupts its inhabitants. Any attempts at civilization tend not to last long.
  • Put on a Bus: The player character from the first two games, otherwise known as "Rake Guy", is absent for the main story of the third. His talents live on the form of the Gardenar Class Pin, which can inflict bleeding attacks and cast stat-boosting spells. In the third episode he also shows up in the Beginning of the End story. The second DLC reveals that Tycho sealed him within the Periphery and erased Gabe's memory of it.
  • Puzzle Boss: In Episode 2, the method to beating Fruit Fucker Prime after it reveals itself to be a Hopeless Boss Fight.
  • Random Encounters: There are none in the first two games, or the fourth. In the third, the Art Shift level has semi-random encounters (they're static but invisible, lampshading the practice without actually using it), and the Colosseum has infinitely replayable battles that can be used to grind for experience.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: After defeating Charles, Gabe comes out of the kitchen with a pie, while wearing a pink apron and pink oven mitts.
  • Red Shirt: Parodied in Episode 3 when the group enters a scenario spoofing Star Trek where it's noted that the monsters seem to specifically target those wearing red. Along with this, Tycho's in denial about his shirt color here, claiming it's not red but "vermilion" or "crimson" or "salmon" or something.
  • Refuge in Audacity: As the game is designed around the Rule of Funny, pretty much anything goes. For example, there is this line in Hobo Alley: "I could stand to kill a few more hobos." And they do.
  • Refusal of the Call: In the second episode, you can keep refusing to join Gabe and Tycho in the beginning—and you get an Achievement for it.
  • Retraux: Like Zeboyd's other games, Episode 3 is made to look like a 16-bit RPG. And part of the game sends you into a Dragon Quest/Final Fantasy parody that apes an 8-bit RPG.
  • Reused Character Design:
    • The series uses the cast of the Penny Arcade webcomic.
    • In Episode 3, the 8-bit fantasy RPG segment reuses elements from Breath of Death VII.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Both Gabe and Tycho in Episode 2. Which one is more surprising reveals much about your personality. Reflect upon this, and be enlightened.
  • Sealed Badass in a Can: The "Rake Guy" in Episode 3, as shown in The Beginning of the End DLC, who is sealed inside one of the crystals in the Periphery in the event of the annihilation of the universe. Tycho seems to have a thing for this.
  • Sequential Boss: Yog Modaigh, God of Doors. If damaged enough, he'll evolve into a stronger, tougher form with more health (which also resets any damage you've done). The third form is the last one. On the plus side, this format allows players to kill him on the first form if they can manage to do enough damage before his next turn (stunning him, for example).
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: The Omnibus, written to reduce fleshy and non-fleshy targets into various bad smells.
  • Shout-Out: The series contains numerous references to other works:
    • Episode 3 has a cameo by a lookalike of PVP's Skull the Troll. Author Scott Kurtz is a friend and collaborator with the Penny Arcade crew.
    • The "Girl on Fire" enemies in the Periphery have been admitted as a reference to The Hunger Games.
    • The "Philosofly" monster in Episode 4 has a list of spells and special abilities that is nothing but a long string of references to the Persona series.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The girlish Fruit Fucker that Anne-Claire gives the trio in Episode 1.
  • Species Surname: Subverted. In Episode 4, Twisp and Catsby from the webcomic—and imp and an anthropomorphic cat—make their appearance; one of the Underhell inhabitants tells the protagonists about them, noting how odd it is that Catsby isn't the cat, but the imp.
  • Steampunk: The setting of New Arcadia has a slight steampunk flavour to it; specific examples include the Fruit Fuckers with clockwork inner workings, as well as the World's Fair, which is a fantastical version of the real-world ones of the time.
  • Sudden Trilogy Disappearance Syndrome: The Player Character only gets a very brief reference in the main storyline of Episode 3, and seems to just be gone. He shows up in The Beginning of the End DLC, stuffed into a sack to obscure his features. Tycho seals him within the Periphery at the end of the DLC, then erases Gabe's memory of it. The developers originally intended to kill the character off at the beginning of the game, but Tycho nixed the idea. At the Penny Arcade site, speaking of the DLC, he said that he 'always, always always had a plan'.
  • Surplus Damage Bonus: In the first two episodes, killing an enemy with a perfectly timed special attack gives an overkill bonus, increasing your damage by +5 permanently each time you do it. There's a limit to the bonus, however.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: In Episode 1, the Dark Mime Rake, Fortune Tommy Gun, and Ultra-Piss Fists need to be collected before the player can defeat the final boss.
  • Taking You with Me: Yog Modaigh does this to Tycho at the end of Episode 3.
  • Teen Genius: Anne-Claire Forthwith, Tycho's niece. She is a scientific prodigy, and helps the party with technical analysis whenever they reach a dead end.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: The "Overkill" mechanic in the first two games boosts your damage permanently if you land a killing blow with a perfectly executed special attack (+5 damage each time, but there's a limit to how high the boost goes). It also comes with a special death animation, which is naturally a lot gorier than the standard one.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Necrowombicon, a tome filled with seemingly blank pages that has a wombat face on its cover. It is rumoured to be connected to the impending apocalypse in some way.
  • Total Party Kill: The Seamstress from the eponymous DLC kills your entire party if you take too long to beat her. It is technically possible to survive it, but it requires debuffing her magic more than the average player will. Dr. Missingno in the next game can also do this.
  • Trophy Room: Dr. Wolfington's office in Episode 2 doubles as one. Bearskin rugs, mounted animal heads, stuffed taxidermy bears and gorillas, a stuffed narwhal. But his pride and joy is the ass end of a "binoceros" (rhinoceros), bollocks and all, mounted on the wall behind his desk.
  • Try Not to Die: Tycho warns the "Rake Guy" not to die in The Beginning of the End DLC, because he will be really mad if that happens.
  • Un-Canceled: After the release of Episode 2, nothing was heard about the series for years, until it was confirmed that Hothead Studios was no longer working on the franchise. Eventually the third game was written up as a prose story to offer some closure for the fans, and that was that—until it was suggested on the official forums for the comic that Zeboyd Games might be a good alternative studio. Zeboyd and Penny Arcade agreed, and a while later Episode 3 started production. The game was enough of a success that Episode 4, the last of the original planned quatrology, was made as well.
  • The Underworld: Underhell. Standard red sea and brimstone beach holiday package. There's also a somewhat nicer Overhell.
  • Unfortunate Names: The Evil King in Episode 3 insists that he's not really evil. His parents, for some reason, just thought to name him "Evil King".
  • Urine Trouble: In Episode 1, one of the items you need to fully upgrade Gabe's fists is a jar of urine. Gabe's hands will then be covered with urine, making them more powerful.
    • In Episode 2, the Urine-Aid injection, which upgrades the Player Character's health like the hobo meat stew from Episode 1.
  • The Voiceless: Not that the characters are Heroic Mimes (they talk through speech bubbles), but only the narrator has voice acting. This is because the creators have noted that every reader has a different idea as to what Gabe, Tycho, Anne, etc. sound like.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Rake Guy is no longer a playable character in Episode 3. His fate is revealed in The Beginning of the End DLC: Tycho sealed him in the Periphery.
  • Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Tycho complains that he can't take Gabe to a fair without him inevitably destroying a fortune teller machine.
  • Womb Level: The inside of the train in Underhell. And also the inside of the Fourth God in Overhell.
  • Working with the Ex: Tycho and Moira in Episode 3. Much to Gabe's initial shock that Tycho, of all people, was actually married.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: In Episode 3, Dr Blood gives a huge speech to summon Leviathan... who dies in about two hits, during which time Dr Blood runs away. (Admittedly right after you'd fought a proper boss). If you don't go for the true ending the final battle against Dr Blood isn't much better (again right after a real boss).
    • Also the Gremlins guarding a bridge in the 8-bit portion of Episode 3—not only can you take each one out with one solid attack, but the only action they take on their turn is "Cower" which does nothing. Tycho complains afterwards since he'd been looking forward to a huge fight.
    • Episode 4 goes even further with the non-fight against Infinitoad—it has the special condition "You win" and ends before the first round of combat.
    • Charles in Episode 2. He gets labelled SISSY FIGHT! and despite having a massive amount of HP, it all drains away in just three punches. He's technically just a distraction while Tycho runs around Charles' place, look for a McGuffin while pilfering upgrade items along the way.
  • Zillion-Dollar Bill: The Incredibly Wealthy in the second episode drop $10,000 bills as the smallest denomination.

...and, of course, anything you can think of on the Penny Arcade page, as the games use their writing and art style.

Alternative Title(s): Penny Arcade