After Reset: The Fall of Gyes

URLs: Preview | Full version
Creators: Richard Nixon, Jeremy Wilfinger, Adam Burn, Peter Cooper
Release date: 12/15
Section: Full version

This review's going to be a little different, as the webcomic's essentially a promotion for a computer game. After Reset: The Fall of Gyes is based on the After Reset sci-fi role-playing game made by Black Cloud Studios. It's currently an “Early Access game” on Steam, with the first part of the game expected to be completed and released soon.

The studio set a goal of raising $12,500 on Kickstarter to fund this comic, and it ended up surpassing its goal by getting $14,299. About 150 backers pledged $40 or more, which gives them the After Reset game in addition to the comic.

The reward structure looks like this:


Making a webcomic to help promote a game is a cool idea that I haven't seen done before. And while the comic's Kickstarter campaign is over, you can downloada preview version of it for free. The full version is for sale on comiXology and Steam for $9.99, although the game's creator, Richard Nixon (what a name, right?), was kind enough to send us a free copy for this review. Thanks, Dick!

Before I get into my review, I think it'd be fun to include some of the comic's user reviews from Steam. I don't really ever see this kind of reader feedback when I'm reviewing a “normal” webcomic.

“Nice scifi story with cool illustrations and emerging audio.” - spopel

“Really enjoyed the novel! I'm a big comics and scifi fan and I must say it really sets the mood with al the amazing illustrations, sounds and music. “ - mariusues

Fall of Gyes is a visual mess. In many scenes — particularly action scenes — you often can't tell who's saying what, or what is happening to whom.” - rustySpeculum

“Well, this novel is not as bad as some say. I also have a comic that was attached to the pre-order Witcher 3 and he was worse.” - Watcher

“Especially liked the sound effects throughout the novel which really support the mood.” - Rocket Rooster

“Fall of gays.” - Fidget

The user reviews are mostly positive, although, as you can see, a lot of them focus on the sound effects and music in the Steam version. I read the comic as a PDF, so, obviously, I didn't get to experience those features.

Writing


Black Cloud Studios promotes the game as being “inspired by classic sci-fi horror movies like The Thing, Aliens or Prometheus,” but to call it merely “inspired by” is inaccurate. I haven't seen The Thing or Prometheus, but I have seen Aliens, and this comic is just a bad rip-off of that movie.

There's nothing original about this comic. Some soldiers explore a creepy, abandoned outpost and fight aliens – it's literally Aliens with Resident Evil monsters.

Here's the thing: Not only did the studio bastardize a James Cameron masterpiece, but they got some nobody to do it for them.

Writer Jeremy Wilfinger describes himself as a “businessman with four years of management experience” who had “energy that compelled him to switch careers” and get a BFA in Creative Writing for Entertainment. It's a great story and all, but I can't find any indication that this guy ever made a comic before The Fall of Gyes.

Don't get me wrong: This isn't intended as a personal attack on Wilfinger. He deserves credit for having the courage to change his career. But it's obvious to me that he has no idea how to write a comic, so why in the world did Black Cloud Studios put him at the helm of a $14,000 project?

It was a terrible decision.

The writing's worthless. There's no reason to care about the characters, the pacing's a joke and there's not really a plot or setting beyond “life sucks and aliens are killing people.” I came close to just giving up and not even reading the rest of the story, and guess what? This $9.99 “graphic novel” is only about 35 pages long.

No, that's not a typo. 35 pages. Let that sink in for a minute.


I'll end this section with one specific criticism. Just because the characters are desensitized and unemotional doesn't mean the storytelling should be unemotional. If the characters don't care about what's going on, the readers aren't going to care either. There are a few brief moments of emotion, like when the guy looks at a photo of his kid, but these come across as more like cheap gimmicks than genuine attempts to make the characters seem sympathetic.

Art 

You'll be relieved to hear that artist Adam Burn has actually made comics before working on this project. Crazy, right?

He had a big challenge ahead of him, though. According to Black Cloud Studios, the comic has a “claustrophobic atmosphere where no one knows what is happening or who the enemy is until disaster strikes.” You know, like in the Alien movies.

Unfortunately, the description's true. rustySpeculum is spot on when he wrote: “Fall of Gyes is a visual mess. In many scenes — particularly action scenes — you often can't tell who's saying what, or what is happening to whom.”

All of the scenes are jam-packed with close-ups to the point where there's no sense of motion or space. The action scenes are particularly terrible. It's not scary or intense – it's just boring. And the comic boasts “stunning cinematic quality”? Really? It reminds me of the shaky camcorder in Blair Witch Project.


On top of that, Burn clearly specializes in drawing wide shots and landscapes, and he's also great at drawing vehicles and monsters. All of those look phenomenal, and the coloring's excellent as well. However, he's lousy at drawing faces ... so why did anyone think it was a good idea to have him draw a story full of close shots of faces? Most of the faces show zero emotion, and when the characters are supposed to be terrified, it looks like they're either laughing or apathetic. It ruins any kind of tension the scenes were trying to have.


His digital painting technique also could be better. Digital painting looks amazing when it's done right, but here it often looks blurry and rushed, especially with the characters' faces.

Still, Burn's work isn't that bad. But for a comic that readers paid for, it isn't nearly good enough.

And the lettering's not anything special either. The font's too large and cartoony for a gritty comic.

Value

I don't know how much a PDF download is supposed to be worth. But a new issue of a print comic usually costs something like $4. And that's for a real, tangible product made by established professionals at one of the big publishers.

Webcomic readers are used to getting content for free. For paid content to be appealing, it usually has to made by someone who's already gained a huge following from their free content. It might be possible for an unknown creator to sell stuff, but their work would have to be really, really good. And this definitely isn't the case with The Fall of Gyes.

$9.99 for a 35-page comic is a rip-off. Yeah, it's technically 66 pages, but about half of those are concept art and other miscellaneous stuff. By comparison, my girlfriend just bought a 128-page paperback graphic novel published by Image for $9.99.

Even $4 would be too much to ask for a comic as low-quality as The Fall of Gyes. I think that people who buy the After Reset game should just get the full comic with it instead of only getting the preview. Then Black Cloud Studios can take the comic off of comiXology and Steam since it's not good or long enough to be paid content. That way, it's just a little extra incentive to buy the game instead of an unrealistic publishing venture.

Overall 

After Reset: The Fall of Gyes is terrible even by amateurs' standards. The art's kind of okay, but the misguided attempt to convey claustrophobia makes it as ineffective and unappealing as possible, and the writer's nowhere near experienced enough to be trying to handle something avant-garde like that. It's also more like an introduction than an actual story, so it's not even really a graphic novel. This project was doomed from the start.

Scores (out of 5)
  • Writing: http://www.webcomicpolice.com/search/label/1
  • Art:
  • Overall:

2 comments :

  1. That lettering is really terrible.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, the style's really more like what you'd expect to see in a gag comic. Cooper's lettering is much better in his comic Drone, so I'm not sure what happened here.

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