Friday, March 28, 2014

Quick Review – Pathfinders Legends – Rise of the Rune Lords Part 1: Burnt Offerings

Two days ago I mentioned in a quick note that the first Pathfinder audio drama had dropped. Since then I have been able to give the 40 something minute production two listens. I must say that as a non-novel translation of a published adventure the audio drama is amazing in both productions’ ability to engage the listener and tell a story. The full audio treatment – with music background effects and an ensemble cast – lend the production a sense of scope an immersion that can be lost in other audio productions (most notably Audio Books).
This unfortunately is also where the production hits one of its’ few stumbling stones. The closest to spoken narration that the listener receives is in the “Pathfinder Society Journal” kept by Ezren the group’s mage and the wizard typically seen on Pathfinder products. The scant amount of narration lends the production the feel of watching a TV show with one’s eyes shut. People are talking, swords are clashing, goblins are singing; but the location, the feel, the time, none of that is there.  This is greatly felt near the end of the production when a character falls of a cliff. Up to the point where people are screaming “help me!” and “I can’t pull you up!” there was no indication that the characters had been anywhere close to a cliff.
I am no expert on audio dramas, until the advent of mp3s and broadband internet I had never heard.  Afterwards I limited myself to classics like The Shadow, Nero Wolf and Superman. The one thing I do recall though is some sort of narrator, someone to tell the listener that Nero Wolf was driving down a dark back road, or that Superman was in a building. With Pathfinder the listener receives two pieces of exposition that cover mild time jumps but nothing more.
The lack of narration is my only true gripe with the production and in no way should count as a reason for anyone NOT to get the audio drama. The voice acting is amazing in almost every case, the characters are engaging and as one-liner filled as anyone should expect from a modern action-adventure/dungeon punk setting and the villain (as utterly evil as she is) manages to pick at the listener’s emotions a bit. The true star of the production is, surprisingly, Ezren. I went into the audio drama expecting the fighter or the ranger to take center stage, however ,while both characters had moments in which they shined, it was the gruff, practical wizard who really came to the forefront and commanded the listener's attention. The production and the story would have been a hell or a lot poorer if not for the character and his voice actor
There are a few cases of the cast being drowned out by background noise or the afore mentioned goblin singing, but again not a reason to not pick this up.
Running in at 14 tracks of story (plus 2 soundtrack tracks and 2 credit tracks) the entire thing runs about an hour with about 40 minutes of story. Perfect for a ride to work!
If I had to rate it, I would say 3 ½ out of 5.

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