Today I’m writing about the transmedia property of the videogame Epic Tavern and the comic book tie in Tales from the Fantastical Crimes Unit. Produced by Hyperkinetic Studios, I’ve been reading the comic and picked up a copy of the game Epic Tavern on Steam.
I tend to be more of the video game guy here at Comic Book Curious, so I suppose I’ll start there.
The game is in early access, and that makes me wary to review it critically, it has a solid core gameplay loop (whew) and it’s at least something different. You play the role of the manager of a tavern and through your selling of ale and chicken wings, establish friendships with the people in the tavern to the point where they go on quests for you or for themselves. This game is a mix of a tavern management sim and a RPG Dungeons and Dragons sort of text crawl.
The tavern management section is boosted by only allowing you to do so many actions in the tavern per day, forcing that aspect of gameplay to stop, and I kind of like breaking up the action against my will as a player because it forces me not to get bogged down or mired in any one task.
The RPG Dungeons and Dragons aspect tasks you with sending parties of adventurers of up to 4 out on quests. These quests involve 4 key aspects: combat, social interactions, puzzles, and survival. I don’t know how the quests are generated, but my “social” skills were my weakest score (shut up) yet those were the quests I kept getting to the point where all my quests involved that skill. But that did make me go out and try to woo a more social friend with mead and burgers, as one does.
Either way, you send out your tavern patrons on quests on a daily basis, tend to their wounds in your tavern, and gamble as to what action will help them do the task best. I always choose precise, because I favor accurate play over risk, and it’s worked great so far. You get better gear, gold (that mead isn’t going to buy itself) and progress the stories of the game. It is a satisfying loop that’s kept me engaged for about 3 times longer than the time I budgeted playing it.
Running alongside the Epic Tavern game, this comic drawn by the series follows the adventures of an overworked agency in the fantasy realm of Beor tasked with investigating crimes committed by supernatural and mythological creatures. Hidden within are clues for unlocking bonus content in Epic Tavern, including a new Final Boss battle and the most powerful artifact in the game.
It’s a sort of noir detective yarn mixed into that fantasy universe. They both feature the same characters, and each provide depth for one another in a story telling aspect. What is really helpful is that unlike other transmedia tie-ins each property can stand on its own two legs; both are not required, and both can be enjoyed separately by design. You aren’t missing key elements just because you only read the comic, or you only play the game. At no point was I confused or lost, unlike the Fortnite / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker tie-in. This is NOT that.
What is cool about the comic are the variant and often throw-back covers and the mysteries of solving the puzzles of how certain pieces of this transmedia work fit together. The comic can be used to unlock aspects of the Epic Tavern game and it keeps the player and reader invested in stories and characters. The Comic providing backstory and the Game providing player agency over that story is the right kind of mixture for any dungeon delver. It’s a slick combo that I think I’m going to hop back into right now.