by Yahtzee Croshaw

Mogworld CoverI’m a big fan of Croshaw, or at least his Zero Punctuation videos. From various spurts of watching episodes religiously, it became clear that Croshaw definitely knows a thing or two about humour. So, while I wasn’t certain that he could necessarily write a compelling fantasy story, I figured I would at least get a few chuckles while attempting Mogworld. I feel I could be justifiably surprised, then, to discover that I wouldn’t encounter a joke that made me laugh until 100 pages in.

What should not have surprised me––knowing that Croshaw frequently harps on about pacing in his videos––was Mogworld’s slow-building action. But, keep in mind that there is a difference between a leisurely pace and nothing happening, and Mogworld often finds itself closer to the latter. The story’s about Jim, who died and was raised as a zombie sixty years later. As he was quite happy being dead, he’s dismayed to learn that everyone in this world will now be resurrected shortly after death. Jim sets out to discover how to end his unlife, and, in doing so, ends up in the middle of warring factions and conspiracies that would probably intrigue anyone other than our indifferent protagonist.

Mogworld is mainly a literal interpretation of strange trends that regularly populate RPG videogames––such as the quest-giver that remains fixed to one spot or appointing adventurers to carry out mundane tasks in exchange for “points”––and the absurdity that would result if people acted like this in real life. The problem is I can’t seem to come to grips with the point of it all. If it’s about the plot, there’s not much to it; if it’s about the characters, they’re equally insubstantial. If it’s about humour, it fell flat for me, and don’t even begin to suggest that it’s about the action. So, is it really just about this central conceit, that it would be silly if people actually did some of the unintuitive things that happen in videogames? If so, I don’t think it’s enough to carry a book. No matter what you may suggest, it most certainly failed to interest me.