It is once again time for crime. This time in the form of a comic book caper alongside Penny Larceny (real name and supervillain moniker.) There’s no hunting for clues here, instead, it’s your mission to guide up-and-coming wannabe supervillain Penny in her mission to become a name to be reckoned with in the “Mask” community.
Penny’s world is split into three communities – Masks (villains), Capes (Heroes), and civilians. Penny grew up in a family of Masks, and now that she’s parentless, she’s out in the world trying to make it big. Hence the full title of the game Penny Larceny: Gig Economy Supervillain. As a relatively new freelancer, Penny has no affiliations in the Mask community to help her up the ladder, but that’s about to change with your training caper.
When you meet Penny, she is working in an office building. Sort of. She’s actually filling out paperwork on her first day as an unpaid intern. The company in question is Legitimate Business Company. Yes, nearly all the names and such in the game are pretty cringy puns or jokes. Filling out the paperwork gives you a chance to fill out the paperwork, pick Penny’s alias, choose pronouns, and check whether you want to have romance and swearing as options within the game.
Once all that is sorted out, you find out that you, as the player, are an actual voice in Penny’s head that helps her with choices and plans. This seems to be something of the norm for her and allows for the visual novel/choice elements of the game to be incorporated. So why is Penny infiltrating LBC in the first place? What goods or intel is she looking for? It must be vital for her to be taking such a big risk.
Penny Larceny: Gig Economy Supervillain, For Better Or Worse, Is Filled With Puns and Innuendos
What Penny wants is an invite to the app for criminals called Crimr. Before carrying out the heist, it’s time to case the joint. You can only investigate three areas of the building to get intel on the security, but as it’s a training mission, it doesn’t matter which areas you investigate. It also turns out that it doesn’t matter so much for another reason. Whenever there’s a choice to be made, Penny defers to you. She also lets you know that you can never completely fail a caper if it goes sideways, which kind of takes the jeopardy out of the whole thing. You can also simply go back and change a decision you have made. Instead, your choices will impact your ending and affiliations.
After scoping out the joint, Penny is promptly fired for a stupid reason and returns home. This allows the game to introduce her other sidekick, a cybernetically enhanced hacker cat called Gibson. Gibson deals with the technical aspects of any jobs that Penny takes on, meaning he accompanies her to LBC after dark to hack the servers.
Once Penny gets an account on Crimr and some encrypted data on top, she receives an invite to a Crimr meetup for new users. A speed dating for criminals where new users can meet potential supervillains to pair up with.
Penny meets three potential people she can become a henchwoman. Doctor Mayhem, a struck-off doctor who tried to give out vaccines for free, The Overmistress, a woman in charge of a blood cult, and Hate-4000, a big, clunky computer from the 1960s who…well who hates. You don’t have to choose who to align with right off the bat, you can take jobs through Crimr, where you can choose who to take jobs for. However, you can only take three jobs through Crimr before paying for the premium app.
From here, you can choose whether to do all three jobs for one person or split your allegiance and hedge your bets. Some of the jobs will have more than one boss interested in it, so what you take and who for could also impact your relationship with the others. Ultimately, it’s up to you who you align yourself with and what your own goals are. If you select to have romance, Penny will basically decide that anyone is fair game and ponder relationships with anyone. Also, allowing romance to remain on will allow for sex to happen. You have been warned. I haven’t played through as completely allied with Hate-4000 yet, and I do not wish to know how sex with them would work if it is an option. I imagine it would be angry.
With its comic book art style and Capes and Masks, there is more than a whiff of inspiration from The Boys apparent. Quite a bit sillier than The Boys, but the influence is still plain to see. It’s an enjoyable game with a fair bit of replay value, but it lacks urgency. Knowing that you can’t completely fail a heist and that you can actively just keep changing your decisions mid-caper. While it is ultimately quite a fun experience, and narratively the story is involving and the characters interesting, it is trying really quite hard with the jokey names and innuendos. For a game about high-stakes heists and heroes, it’s surprisingly low-stakes.
Penny Larceny: Gig Economy Supervillain is out now on PC, Mac, and Linux