Rarely is it a good sign when you roll your eyes come the final page of a book, and with this one, a-rolling they were. I guess it doesn’t help that I wasn’t intimately familiar with the series as a whole, but this is billed as a jumping-on point for the ongoing stories based on the Pathfinder roleplaying game, and theoretically, as an ex-RPG enthusiast, I should’ve been right at home.
Chock full of cliché, spottily anachronistic dialogue, and…well, nothing really happens, story-wise. A party of adventurer archetypes show up in a city, and most of them have a bit of a wander around. Two of them don’t, and stay in a pub, drinking. That’s it.
Okay, okay, so there’s potentially some intrigue when Assassins(!!™) show up – though that’s the final panel before the dreaded ‘To be continued…’. But if this is indeed the touted entry point for newcomers, it doesn’t do a particularly great job of making us invest in the characters, here in medias res. It almost feels like they’re taunting us, what with their harking back to their exploits in the first Pathfinder limited series – ‘oh, do you remember the demon? And the cult?’. No, no I don’t. Can you do something interesting now? It also pulls a cheap coup of telling us that something exciting did happen…in Pathfinder: Night on the Town #1, the entirety of which apparently happens literally between pages of the book that I’m holding. Again, not cool.
Still, I suppose that if you have been following the exploits of this bunch of personified fantasy tropes, you’ll be a little more invested, and the script’s certainly not bad by any stretch of the imagination. Just a little bit more of a hook would’ve been appreciated.
And the art is actually really quite good, Oliveira doing a pretty great job of fleshing out the city itself as it’s explored, presenting one that feels a little like the older parts of Edinburgh, Prague, and other similarly medieval-esque cityscapes mashed together. It’s a good, if tried and tested aesthetic that holds some appeal. The characters, whilst a bit stiff in terms of expressions, are well realised, and appropriately armoured, which is a plus.
Overall, if you’re an existing fan, I imagine there’s some kicks to be had here, but for the clueless majority, it’s not much fun, and doesn’t really compel you to go and fill in the blanks either. Kind of like joining a long-running roleplaying group as a new player – you can tell they’re having a whale of a time, but their in-jokes and pre-existing banter end up immediately alienating you. I kinda want to go join those girls playing ‘Rat Queens’. That looks like fun…
The writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24