Penny Arcade The Game: Gamers vs. Evil

Jan 31 '13

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Penny Arcade The Game: Gamers vs. Evil

If you’re into Penny Arcade, but don’t feel like playing their newest entry in the On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness series, you do have another option: Penny Arcade The Game: Gamers vs. Evil. Based on the Cryptozoic board game, this iOS game developed by Playdek offers a fun deck-building alternative.

Down your Bat Milk, dust off your Cardboard Tube and charge into battle astride your Magical Unicorn Starsong; for evil is a foot with 6 toes…

Introducing Penny Arcade Game: Gamers vs. Evil for iOS from Playdek and Cryptozoic Entertainment! This digital board game, featuring classic Penny Arcade characters from the popular web comic, lets the player engage as Gabe, Tycho, or one of their dauntless allies in an epic battle against Evil! Your path is beset by foes like Dark Tycho, the infamous and infectious cauldron of disease PAX Pox and other Evils that stand in your way of becoming the Master Gamer! With 3 modes of play to choose from; play online with full asynchronous support, play locally against other would be masters, or AI opponents, the descent into madness that is Penny Arcade Game: Gamers vs. Evil brings rabid rapture to the iOS.

HIGHLIGHTS

Asynchronous Online play for up to 4 players
Online Rematch option – There is no grace in defeat!
Next Game button to allow you to move between multiple Online games when it’s your turn to play
In Game Friends List – invite your Game Center friends to play Online
Offline Pass and Play or vs. with selectable levels of AI for up to 4 players
Card Gallery – See Faerie Candymancer in all of her splendor!
Introductory Tutorial-To Penny Arcade, not Shucking
Rulebook

FEATURES

Universal Game Application
Game Center Achievements
Invite Game Center Friends
Offline Play
Included AI opponents
Pass-and-play Multiplayer
Real-time and asynchronous Online Games
Online Game Clock Timers
Rematch Button
Next Game Button
Online Help Menu
Player Profile
Selectable game-start rules

Story

Not applicable.

Gameplay

The game mechanics for this title are, as expected, spot on. Navigation is flawless. Playdek has tweaked this deck-building engine over the course of several other titles and it is now working beautifully. Everything is very responsive. You can very easily magnify all cards, appreciating Gabe’s art and reading captions or card descriptions.

You can swipe, tap, and double-tap as smoothly as any other TCG game on the iOS. The layout is clean, and as uncluttered as is possible for a deck-building game which requires many stacks of cards on the table.

There is an offline and online mode, which includes a new asynchronous mode option. There is an adjustable AI whose difficulty level you can increase as you become more familiar with the game.

There is a tutorial in the Options menu, and though it is fairly thorough in terms of the game rules, I would have liked to have seen more information regarding various aspects of gameplay and game options.

All that to say, game mechanics are very highly rated. Let’s move on to the actual gameplay now. This title is based off of the board game by the same name. It is available from Cryptozoic with a suggested retail price of $44.99.

It’s important to note, for those who aren’t familiar with card games, that this is not a TCG (Trading Card Game). You do not buy additional booster packs and create your own decks with which to defeat other decks. This is a deck-building game. All of the cards are placed on the table, in individual stacks, and as you play, you add these cards (as you see fit) to your deck. In the end, the person with the most victory points wins.

This is important to note, because some people are massive TCG fans, however when playing a deck-building game, these same people will find the lack of control unappealing. By that I mean, they would rather have the option to create their own decks, adding specific cards in order to tweak their deck to their liking.

You may argue that this is in fact what occurs during a deck-building game, however there is a very big distinction between the two. You’ll just have to trust me on that one.

A TCG player has to abandon certain preconceptions before starting to play a deck-building game in order to enjoy it. They cannot identify with their decks. Those are just part of the board game, much like properties in Monopoly. Once you can wrap your head around that, you will be able to enjoy the game a lot more.

This was what I had to do when I first started playing Ascension, also by Playdek. That said, Ascension offered a lot more choices and complexity. And I feel that is where Penny Arcade The Game: Gamers vs. Evil loses a lot of its appeal. With all of the years of artwork at their disposal, Cryptozoic worked with what I believe to be a fairly limited set of images. I also find the gameplay to be somewhat dumbed down. This may be intentional, in order to create an easily accessible board game, however what I found is that I lost interest a lot more quickly, which was surprising considering my appreciation of the Penny Arcade webcomic.

Don’t get me wrong, the game is still fun to play. However it does not have a lasting appeal. I imagine, as it does not have further booster packs available for sale, that this is not as important. They do not need to keep you coming back to the game in order to sell you more cards. Rather, it’s just as any other game whose box you stack into your board games closet.

Score: 8/10

Video

This game looks very good. How many card games have we played over the years which have downright amateurish art? It does make a difference. Of course you require solid gameplay and interesting concepts, however the card art is also extremely important. You spend so much time looking at it.

Gamers vs. Evil takes advantage of Mike Krahulik’s fantastic webcomic art. He has a unique style which has improved greatly over the years (check through the archives, you’ll see what I mean).

As always, Playdek has done a fantastic job of rendering all of this in a easy to navigate format. As stated earlier, you can view all of the card art closeup to appreciate the work. There are spell effects and the like, however nothing is so over the top as to detract from gameplay. Playable cards are highlighted using different colors, making it easier to see at a glance which you can select.

Penny Arcade The Game
Nothing feels cramped, despite the number of cards on the virtual table. The background is simple, with a few animations here and there, though nothing which detracts attention away from the cards. Playdek nailed it on this front.

Score: 10/10

Audio

Anyone who follows Penny Arcade will agree the audio in this game is a perfect fit. The 8-bit score adds old school charm to the game which, at least for me, never got annoying. Likewise, each action prompts an 8-bit sound effect, from swooshes, dog barks or kids’ cooing. It’s all quirky and fits the theme of the game.

If you’re not into it, you can easily adjust the volume for the music and/or sound effects.

Score: 9/10

Value

At $4.99, I believe this game is overpriced. Certainly, there is a lot of work that went into it, however we have to look at what you get for the five dollars: in terms of gameplay and re-playability. Some folks have said that this is one of their most played games on their iOS device. For them, five dollars is a bargain.

However for the rest of us, that is high. I’m not saying this game should be slashed to 99 cents, however if you ever see it for that price, you’d be a fool to pass it up.

I believe a $2.99 price-point would have been perfect. I know, it’s only a two dollar difference, however iOS owners buy so many apps, that a few bucks here and there add up, and many of us are conscious of that when buying apps now.

Also, when grading on a curve, looking at what is currently out there for $4.99 or less, you can see how Gamers vs. Evil should be priced lower.

Score: 7/10

Parting Thoughts

Penny Arcade The Game: Gamers vs. Evil is a fun, deck-building game. It won’t continue to leech money from your account via micro-transaction booster packs, however this also means that it will have limited appeal to some gamers.

The inclusion of local and online play makes it easy to connect with friends or random folks. The mature nature of the game means you’re not likely to take the game out during family game night, however the appeal of the IP overrides that concern; meaning you’re more likely to take it out when you have friends over, than you would traditional iOS board games, simply because it’s fun adult humour.

If you’re not a fan of Penny Arcade, you’re unlikely to enjoy this title. Unlike more generic card games, this one will have no appeal to a large group of people simply because of that. However if you are a fan of Penny Arcade, and you enjoy deckbuilding games, I would encourage you to give it a shot. Better to wait for a sale, like the recent 99 cent sale, however if you’ve got a few bucks to spare, even at $4.99, you’re likely to have fun with it.

Final Score

Penny Arcade The Game: Gamers vs. Evil

85

  • Fantastic UI
  • Off and Online Play
  • Based on Popular IP
  • Great art

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