July 11, 2019

Review | Fall of Gods

Fall of Gods is a limited run trilogy published by MOOD, a visual development studio based in Denmark. Though their business focus is on world building and concept art for video games and movies, they created this series of books as a showcase of their in-house capabilities—cinematic storytelling at its finest.

At least that was their Kickstarter pitch.

It was enough to interest me. Not so much their background, but the cinematic storytelling bit. At the time, I had just started researching crowdfunding platforms to support the transmedia project I’m developing, and I stumbled across Fall of Gods. The flashy, immersive artistic style of the sample pages drew me into their Norse noir concept.

A year after supporting the project and seeing it achieve its funding goal, I got to hold the first two books in my hands. The individually shrink-wrapped books smelled and felt amazing. It was the first time I ever geeked out about opening a cardboard box with books in it. So that’s where I must start this review:

Printing and Packaging

These books feel good. Real good. From unwrapping to sliding my hand over the smooth, matte covers, these books feel like something special. I cannot give high enough praise to the Belgian printing company, Graphius, for their work here.

No misprints, no bad cuts or anything out of alignment. No bent corners from being drawn too tight in the shrink-wrapping process. The books even smelled good.

Whew. Okay, enough about that, let’s get into something less tactile and more visual:

Design

More high marks for logo, title, layout, and type design. Everything not only fits the theme of the stories, it enhances them. Since these are cinematic novels, these non-illustration design elements have to carry enough weight to embed the reader in this other world without being distracting, overshadowing the artwork, or making the words a tertiary player.

Yes, tertiary. Because there is a battle between the writing and the—

Artwork

There are lots of illustrations. This is as promised. Both the number and the style constitute part of MOOD’s argument that these are cinematic novels. I would agree, to a point.

There is a disparity in quality and finish to half the images in the first novel. Some of the illustrations seem like a step or two above concept art used for storyboarding. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself, but the other artwork appears very different in that it looks finished, polished, and ready to hang as a print on your wall.

I don’t know if this was intentional, but I did find it distracting. Maybe I was looking too closely. These books are nice. I wanted to give them the attention they invite.

Beyond all of this, there is what should be the core of the books, the writing itself.

Story

I want to say that these books offer a unique vision, but I can’t. I will say the story is competent and free of typos and grammatical mistakes. But the words never have enough weight to distract you from the visuals on every spread.

Valí, the anti-hero of the story, is bland. His thoughts are singular, only disturbed by his Rage—a demon that possesses him in times of danger. This aspect of the story mimics the struggle between Bruce Banner and the Hulk, but with less compassion and more torment.

We see glimpses of supporting characters that could add something different, but because of the (mostly) first-person narrative, we never get inside their heads long enough to achieve a greater depth to the storytelling. And the pictures don’t help.

I will say that the second book is an improvement in terms of story and art. It adds more of the mythology, creatures, and general depth of the world that Valí inhabits. The stakes are greater and more interesting, and by the end, I genuinely wanted to read the final part of the story.

Future

The second book also sets up a few paths for this all to travel down. I’m curious if the writer decides to go for the happy ending full of redemption and returns. Or if this will end in pain for everyone.

I know the choices I hope Valí (and the MOOD team) makes.

Overall

6 out of 10.

The printing and design work are immaculate. The illustrations are all well-framed but vary in finish. The writing is competent but not compelling.

Purchase

You can find it on Amazon and elsewhere.