Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: George Mann
Artist: Alan Quah
Release Date: 20th April 2016
Adapting Dark Souls to the comic form was always going to be, in keeping with the games themselves, maddeningly difficult. Hidetaka Miyazaki’s sprawling RPG epic is reviled and celebrated in equal measure for its Lovecraftian stylings, its dense, indistinct lore and punishingly steep learning curve. Thus it was with some trepidation that I approached Titan’s latest acquisition, as I tried to fathom just how a game whose story is so convoluted and steeped in mystery could ever form a coherent, satisfying read.
After an opening that describes the spread of the undying curse across the land of Ishra, we follow our Chosen Undead hero Fira and her guide Aldrich. Their quest begins as they seek to acquire the Tooth of Andolus – a dagger fashioned from a dragon’s tooth, naturally – and bring about a new era of Bright Days and freedom for her people.
Artist Alan Quah’s art brings to mind Michael Zulli at times, with his detailed pencil work being a good fit for a fantasy title, and writer George Mann deserves kudos for trying to do his own thing with a backstory so cumbersome.
Unfortunately, it is with a heavy heart that I have to say that, apart from the Dark Souls title and the appearance of Solaire, it fails pretty badly at managing to evoke what makes its inspiration so beloved. It lacks the spooky weirdness, has none of the eccentric and verbose characters and not much sense of Dark Souls’ over-arching mythology. There’s also a glaringly conspicuous lack of the mystery and dread that is so omnipresent in the Dark Souls universe. Basically all of the stuff that sets Dark Souls apart from others of the same ilk.
Video games are notoriously difficult things to adapt to other mediums and it’s doubly so with something like Dark Souls. So much of the lore and themes are fundamentally linked to gameplay mechanics and large swathes of it are open to individual interpretation. These are then actively encouraged within the game with descriptions and dialogue that – besides from the opening cinematic cut-scene that sets up the main themes and characters – you are mostly left to figure out and piece together with a little detective work of your own. But it’s no excuse when there is plenty of fan-fiction and lore interpretation that fills in those blanks left on purpose by Miyazaki in a much more meaningful way, and in a way that is much more in keeping with the tone of the Dark Souls universe.
It is only the first issue I suppose, and Titan should be applauded for even attempting to make sense of it, but it doesn’t bode well for what’s to follow and really tis’ nary much but hollow mimicry.
[Click to Enlarge]
The writer of this piece was: Chris Downs
Chris Tweets from @ChrisDownsy