Games Master - - SPECIAL -

Tales of death and woe per­me­ate this un­set­tling col­lec­tion. In­spired by the THE FLAME LEG­ENDS OF gothic ni­hilism and min­i­mal­ist LEG ND sto­ry­telling of From Soft­ware’ s sem­i­nal SO FT HE FL RPG se­ries, each of the 13 short-form AM E episodes deal in de­cep­tion, tor­ment, and grim re­gret. Cross­roads fea­tures a bat­tle-weary war­rior who, seek­ing respite from his hol­lowed form, en­coun­ters a tricksy crim­i­nal promis­ing a cure. The De­voted re­counts a cham­pion’s bat­tle with a hideous spi­der woman - not un­like Dark Souls’ Chaos Witch Que­laag – and the grim af­ter­math that fol­lows. Of­ten no more than a few pages long, they cap­ture the se­ries’ cycli­cal mis­ery and un­said rules – life in Lor­dran bru­tal as it is short. Ac­tion Re­play is a per­fect ex­am­ple of this. Here a gla­di­a­tor is re­born af­ter each gory arena death to face an­other in front of bray­ing crowds, like a night­mar­ish new take on Ground­hog Day. Like the games, Leg­ends Of The Flame is un­flinch­ingly hos­tile, con­stantly turn­ing the ta­bles on its cast of WRIT­TEN BY GE­ORGE MANN very dis­pos­able he­roes. PEN­CILS/ INKS BY PIOTR KOWALSKI The real mas­ter­stroke is the shrine. Be­tween yarns COLOURS anBY BRAD SIMP­SON un­named trav­eller, coaxed by a strange old lady and her even stranger cat, glares into a bon­fire and sees the doomed fates of past wan­ders. As a fram­ing de­vice it’s per­fect. With each tale show­cas­ing dis­tinct art vividly match­ing the grotesque splen­dour of the games, some bold and al­most pop-art-es­que, oth­ers go­ing for muted and fes­ter­ing pho­to­re­al­ism, it’s as if they’re murky at­tempts to retell some passed-down myth, WRIT­TEN BY align­ing with the lonely beauty GEORGEand lost MANN his­tory of Dark Souls’ frac­tal land­scape. The shrine’s PEN­CILS/ nar­ra­tiveINKS BY through-line is the one PIOTR KOWALSKI shin­ing light in Leg­ends Of The Flame’s un­re­lent­ing bleak­ness: the hope that our trav­eller heeds COLOURS the BY ad­vice from these mor­bid BRAD SIMP­SON lessons of what not to do.

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