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Guest Review: Dark Souls: Tales of Ember

Guest Writer: Christopher Bishop

George Mann, Tauriq Moosa, and Michael Walsh – Writers
Daniele Serra, Damien Worm, Michael Walsh & Dylan Burnett – Artists

Dark Souls has been a favorite of mine for some time.  I have suffered, errr, I mean painstakingly played through every iteration of the game since its pseudo conceptual origin in the form of King’s Field back on the Playstation 1.  Through the years fans of the game have been put through the ringer of challenges confronting devious traps, ghoulish guards and devilish magic’s to achieve a victory that only just barely holds the darkness back.  With the release of Dark Souls III, the story changed a little and I was interested to see if the graphic literature format would follow suit.

One of the hallmarks of the Souls worlds is that we are often given snippets of information about the world.  Most games start with a panoramic view of the often desiccated, and dim world which seems to loom ever upon the brink of final damnation.  The comic offering starts in much the same way, a world of muted color palettes and showing a protagonist that looks more like the stuff of nightmares than the hero of legend.  The eerie visuals are done in a looser pencil style, promising that things lurk just beyond the borders of the page.

Through the first issue we are given three short stories, and in typical Dark Souls fashion they generate two questions for every one question they answer.  In the first story we are shown the hero, but from the perspective of those he frees from their eternal torment.  The second story shows two “SunBros” fighting against the corrupting evil only to have it consume one of them forcing an awful choice to be made.  The third and final offering gives us perhaps the clearest look at the pervading theme of Dark Souls, that in all things balance must be carefully maintained between light and dark.

Detail Dark Souls: Tales of Ember cover art © 2017 Titan Comics

Detail Dark Souls: Tales of Ember cover art © 2017 Titan Comics

All in all, the comic is a love letter offering to fans of the game.  Much like the game it does not try to hold your hand and walk you through a story but instead seems more like a graphic account of fevered dreams from a maddened mind .  At this point I am not sure if the intention is to have a continuing story arc or keep it to short stories, but the first issue certainly captures the feel of the game.  That being said, it would be hard to recommend this to anyone who was not already a fan of Dark Souls itself. As such, that makes it a rough entry point for someone unfamiliar with the setting.  I give the first issue of Dark Souls: Tales of Ember a B.  Great artwork and true to the game format storytelling while amazing for fans of the series doesn’t do much to foster attracting new fans to the gloomy tales of medieval macabre.

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