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'Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet' is a Game Worth Playing
February 7, 2020  | By David Hinckley
 


You don't have to be a video gamer to appreciate how a new Apple+ series shreds the game development world.

Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet, a nine-episode series that drops Friday on the new streaming service, starts by creating a familiar roomful of visionary, quirky, talented, deluded, neurotic, oblivious, and self-centered geeks who, in this case, develop video games for a living.

A very good living.

The leader of this pack is Ian Grimm, played by Rob McElhenney, who co-created and wrote the show with Charlie Day and Megan Ganz.

This is the same team responsible for It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which revolves around a similar group of people who aren't quite as creative or well-to-do.

Ian is the creative force behind the development of Mythic Quest, a video game with 11.6 billion players worldwide. Now it is time to develop a sequel, which must, of course, exceed the original for gratuitous violence, er, challenging fun.

Ian's idea of a promotion for the new game, which will be called Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet, is a short video featuring himself shirtless.

The rest of the team is unimpressed, but they don't have to be. Ian likes it, and that's enough. So they shrug and return to the business of making Ian's vision come to life on those 11.6 billion screens.

The team includes underappreciated main coder Poppy Li (Charlotte Nicdao), clueless executive producer David (David Hornsby), frequently inebriated head writer C.W. Longbottom (F. Murray Abraham), a guy named Brad (Danny Pudi), and you get the idea.

Since Mythic Quest takes place almost entirely in the company office, it has more than a few moments that could have been lifted from the sitcom The Office.

At one point, for instance, David is introducing himself to his new assistant Jo (Jessie Ennis) and expounding on his own importance to the team. Jo glances over his shoulder and innocently asks whether that's a staff meeting being held without him.

This sort of disrespect drives David to the human resources office, where he lies down on the couch and starts explaining his Mommy issues to Carol, the HR director. Listening to his whining isn't anywhere in her job description, so she kicks him out, only to find most of the rest of the staff trickling in with similar intent.

Fueling these psycho-crises is the raging debate over whether and how to incorporate a shovel into the new game. It's a classic comedy gambit, taking a lump of sugar and spinning it into a half-hour's worth of cotton candy. More often than not, it works here.

Subplots get airtime as well, like game tester Rachel (Ashly Burch) having a crush on a fellow tester. Think funny first, poignant second.

Two good bits have Elisha Henig, the troubled child in the second season of The Sinner, playing Pootie Shoe, a 14-year-old video star with 10 million followers. His verdict can launch or sink a new game, and Mythic Quest also gives us a glimpse of his incidental interaction with his mother, who works for him.

Mythic Quest gets what sells in the video biz these days. Tight, punchy, irreverent, self-referential. It's never sunny in the game development room, but it's good goofy fun.

 
 
 
 
 
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