The strange adventure of a broke mercenary is a decidedlyâ¦ correct title. While there are a few glimmers of promise here and there, much of it seems to be an overly familiar distorting tropes exercise. That familiarity is further weighed down by a few weird pacing issues towards the end, but there is potential in the volume’s final reveals that gives me hope for future installments.
Broken MercenaryIt’s premise is something you’ve seen a lot elsewhere. Loren is an austere mercenary, with spiky hair and wearing a cloak that wields a huge sword and once belonged to a gang of mercenaries – not at all subtle reference to Guts of Berserk glory (but hey, at least he picked one of the best fantasy titles to pay homage to him). The world itself is full of the standard adventure fantasies we’ve all come to expect: goblins in dark, deep woods, groups of adventurers taking odd jobs from a global guild – that sort of thing.
Of course, whether Broken MercenaryFamiliarity with is a strength or a weakness ultimately depends on your preferences. Obviously, the tropes are out of date at this point, and for some it will be a bummer. For my part, I was delighted to read a standard fantasy story that takes place entirely in an alternate world instead of an isekai for a change. I definitely prefer generic fantasylandia to stories trapped in another world, as the characters are fully rooted in their world and it helps my immersion in the text. There might be twists and turns later to spice things up a bit, but even though the setting is standard fare, it’s comfortable territory for me.
There are times when Broken mercenary becomes a bit too adjacent to the game for my taste. A gang of adventurers meeting in a tavern before the guild sends them off to kill goblins on their first adventure is one thing, but when abilities are described as the number of spells per day one can cast, it is one thing. is where it broke my immersion in the text – we’re kinda too much evident with the influences of the text, and it looks less like a fantastic setting to me than an actual webcomic from someone. Your mileage can of course vary, but I would have preferred a bit of handwavium like saying that a character has “awesome mana reserves” or something like that to at least try to keep it in fictional space. If this was a one-off thing, that would be great, but there are also subsequent discussions about the abilities of goblins falling into this immersion-shattering trap.
The characters don’t add much to the setting or the premise either. Saerfe, Oxy and Maron are basically non-entities plus “they’re bad for adventures and rude about it”. Loren isn’t very exciting either, but at the very least he’s seriously in debt – which I can understand. But beyond his negative account balance and a big dose of tan, the most engaging thing he has for him as a character is that he offers wise advice in dangerous situations. Unfortunately, this advice never has a terrible impact. Most of the time it comes down to “don’t underestimate the goblins” which, of course, is wise about what Saerfe and his company are doing, but not really engaging as a reader since the audience has been. said quite explicitly that they were low level adventurers. do low level adventures.
The lapis is the real surprise of the volume. I won’t say specifically what she does so as not to spoil it, but she does reveal in detail what her situation is at the end of the volume. Lapis spends most of his time being a cheerful but forgettable character, but when his hook is showcased it’s hard not to stop there because the exciting plot hook the volume. Hopefully this is what future volumes explore as its location is infinitely more interesting than anything presented so far, and it looks like a great opportunity to take advantage of these rather predictable beginnings and do something exciting thing with history.
It’s a shame that this hook has a price: a huge exhibition dump. Look, exposure dumps can be a necessary evil, and sometimes, as an author, the only way to get that information out to the reader is to just, well, tell them. However, Lapis tells all of his backstory in the midst of escaping a dangerous situation with Loren who, although well in theory, drops a huge cinder block of text right above the narrative and crushes the tension. The scene also feels like it hangs out a lot longer than its page count, which is odd given how conceptually it hooked me. Again, sometimes these information dumps are inevitable, so maybe that was the price to pay, but I would have liked it to have been worked more elegantly so as not to detract from what is, what is in my opinion the most exciting part of the volume.
There is very little to say about art. The character designs are nice and distinct, but that’s pretty much where the distinctions end. Most of the characters feel very stuffy, as if everyone is sitting straight or standing at attention. Maybe it was an effort to be realistic and keep everyone on the model so to speak, but there isn’t a whole lot of vibrancy even in the action sequences. The characters generally look cool, but are just set against some fantastic generic-looking backgrounds. Again, I hope that will change in the next few volumes.
The strange adventure of a broke mercenary is a bit mundane, but when he shows his hand towards the end, there’s a ton of promise in what’s to come. The more he delves into this promise, the more potential he has to come out and be something special.