The audience for this book is the narrow group that plays D&D but also enjoys the Penny Arcade live games. I’m uncertain how it will be received by D&D fans who aren’t Acquisitions Incorporated fans: even as someone who has watched the live games but not the C-Team games there was a lot of references I didn’t get. Like the new race. And because the book is so heavily focused on making your own franchise, it’s not really going to appeal to Penny Arcade/ Acquisitions Incorporated fans who don’t play D&D; the amount of lore & background on AI is very limited and viewers who have watched all the shows are unlikely to learn anything new. This is NOT a book of lore on the organization.
But, as a counterpoint, the book is just plain fun. It’s oozing with flavor and a distinct style. There’s also the great adventure that’s an excellent choice if you need four to eight sessions of adventuring. Even if you don’t plan on running an AI franchise for longer than this adventure, after it ends you might find yourself wanting to tell a few homebrew tales or figuring out what happens with the business next. If you’re not planning on running the adventure it’d be easy to adapt the franchise rules for use with generic adventuring companies or a different business, making this book useful if you plan on having a game focused around a mercantile guild or mercenary company (perhaps even a tavern). And while the book is dripping with humor, the actual mechanical elements of the rules are not inherently jokey and those aspects can be stripped away. (Such as the amusing names for the corporate roles.)
If this were one of the three official releases by Wizards of the Coast I could see a lot of people being upset by this product. But as it is a bonus fourth book and only semi-official it feels like a nice bonus. Even if you never plan on running an Acquisitions Incorporated game, the book is still an entertaining read and has a lot of fun ideas that might inspire your campaign, be at a traditional dungeon crawl or a much more fantastic guild-based Ravnica game.
A terrible joke product based on... joke. By a 3rd party. WotC has lost its way if they release such products instead of actual campaign settings or source books. Why not Garfield the Cat DnD products while we're at gimmick products?
Don't let the core comedic conceit of Acquisitions Incorporated fool you: this book is crammed with solid mechanical and storytelling ideas worth stealing for wildly different games. For fans of Acq. Inc. the book is a giant love letter from Penny Arcade and Wizards writing with wit and whimsy. The art, the writing, just everything is dead on brand. It is like digging a hole, but instead of finding a body you find gold. And a body. That you put there (TM Omin Dran, Acquisitions Incorporated).
For everyone else the book is a goldmine. You may have to refine the raw ores to something usable but it is crammed with systems, ideas, and content perfect to spark your own home-brewing. Sure the art is a little more cartoony than other books. Sure there are many dark office-humor jokes told within its pages. But... there is something here. Something protean and 5E to add more heft to organizations and businesses in their games.
While there are alternatives out there (Strongholds by MCDM comes to mind) this is a thoroughly 5E just-enough-crunch-to-impact interpretation that sits really well with me. I've found alternatives to be unwieldy and reminiscent of design principles predating 5E. There is a lot of well fit content here to take as-is or reskin. You (probably) won't regret buying this book and may find it the most hilarious D&D book ever (maybe even funnier than the old Volo's guides!)