Monday, May 5, 2014

Traian's Dying Breed

A foggy night, an ancient castle, a frozen mountain woodland, a full moon and a defiant howl. Does it get any better than this?

Ah, Funcom. If only you weren't so rich and complacent, you could be such (a) good company. While The Secret World remains a half-baked mess in most respects, it makes such a good show of style and attitude that one can almost forgive it. Some may have been touched by Bradbury-inspired stories of rural teenage monster-hunters. Some may be haunted by the tales of the seven stone guardians of the City of the Sun God and their father's guilty conscience. Others may prefer Mme. Roget, the saucy fake witch with real powers and a mystery to solve, or the parody of Stephen King writing the decomposition of the world behind him from the top of an abandoned lighthouse. Me, given my predilections, I'm partial to my good buddy Traian the werewolf.

As I've complained before, it is nearly impossible to find good lycanthropic characters. Pop culture has latched on to them as impressive straw men and uses them merely as oversized obstacles for the hero of the story. To suit this purpose, Hollywood has pumped them full of steroids until they're nothing but flat, shallow piles of muscle.

Unfortunately, TSW follows this pattern visually. Fortunately, they got a quality voice actor to read Traian's quality scripts. Writing and voice acting rescue Funcom's Hollywoodized, conformist visuals. Don't ask me why a Romanian werewolf would growl in a Scottish accent, but somehow it works.* The essence of lycanthropy's appeal is duality. Traian is a hulking meathead visually, like the rest of the werewolves in the game, but offset by the calm, rumbling voiceovers the overlay becomes an undertone. We get to look past the meaningless muscle to the knowing sneer of the misanthropic hermit, and past that to the rage always bubbling beneath his outwardly controlled demeanor.

Kudos, to both the writer and the voice actor. Traian speaks his part even if he doesn't look it.

*Is it the Rs?

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