Mr and Mrs. Geek
Little By Little, I Got You
The Holy Grail
Given some of the predatory tactics and shady corporate power plays in the video game industry, it was only a matter of time before someone took out the cynical sting and turned it into a workplace comedy. Complete with big personalities and nods toward this incredibly profitable industry. Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it sticks to its misunderstanding comedy trope pretty strictly, and a lot of the jokes revolve around characters falling out, disagreeing or misinterpreting what the other has said.
With a lack of comedic diversity, a lot of the content relies heavily on video game references and parodies instead, which do work reasonably well but also come with a profound lack of laugh out loud moments, especially late on when the series leans much more heavily toward a dramedy set-up,
Set within the confines of a video game company, the show’s title Mythic Quest refers to the multiplayer game this group of colourful characters have been working on for several years. With an expansion pack on the horizon and plenty at stake both personally and professionally for all involved, Mythic Quest quickly breaks down a number of video game tropes and issues while entombing them around a workplace comedy set-up.
Most of the comedy and ensuing drama that spills across the season emanates from the creative differences felt from Poppy, the creative Director, and Ian, the game’s creator. From video game testers and head writers through to over-worked programmers and online streamers, Mythic Quest taps into every part of video game culture and it does so with surprising accuracy too.
As mentioned before, Mythic Quest is a bit of a one-trick pony when it comes to the humour. The misunderstandings work well early on, as the opening episode tackles the best way to market a new shovel item for the MMO before turning the attention inwards as office politics begin to spill over to the vision of the game. The trouble is, if you’re not sold on this style of humour it’s very unlikely that the later episodes will change that. Even the finale, which leads things into dramedy territory, has a few jokes but these still rely on character misunderstandings and at times feel ill-placed given the circumstances.
Stylistically, the show tries to incorporate several different styles of sitcom into one, with zoomed or static shots of faces after a particularly awkward misunderstanding, or utilizing throwaway shots of the game between scenes. The latter is sporadically placed through the show and at times feel really random. Seeing a viking ship crash through the waters toward new frontiers after an argument between two characters or a dog pouncing at a knight leading to a scuffle after a comedic scene feels way too random and doesn’t add an awful lot to the show.
Having said that though, the real saving grace here is episode 5. The entire 35 minute episode is a perfect commentary on artistic integrity and corporate greed. Beginning in 1996 and working through to the late 2000’s, the structure of this relies much more on the aforementioned dramedy and the episode is all the stronger for it. If you’re turned off from the opening few episodes I strongly suggest skipping ahead and watching this one.
Characters can make or break a comedy and again, Mythic Quest is a mixed bag. Some of the personas here are really interesting, especially the head writer and testers, but Poppy is likely to have a love/hate effect with people while Ian shouldn’t be likable but given his work on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, it’s pretty easy to root for him throughout the show, even with his narcissistic attitude.
Comedy is of course a subjective art form and Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet is no exception. There are some stand out moments here and there’s no question that when the jokes land, they land incredibly well. The trouble is, a lot of the jokes rely so heavily on the same comedic set-up that after a while you wind up numbing to that style and taking to the story itself. In a way, Mythic Quest is self-aware of this, diving much more into drama territory late on. It’s not perfect, but with a second season already green-lit, there’s a good enough set-up here that fans will almost certainly translate across to that seamlessly.
It’s certainly not the best comedy of the year, and if you’re not sold on the style do skip ahead and watch episode 5 – it’s fantastic. For that alone it’s worth watching but whether Mythic Quest has the legs to become a Fortnite, or fizzle out spectacularly like a Fallout 76, remains to be seen.