Yes, yes, Oblivion has long stepped aside and given Skyrim the spotlight, and Prequel – also known as Making A Cat Cry: The Adventure – has been around for a while. It’s been brought to my attention that not everyone knows about it though, so here’s why you should check it out.
Prequel is an interactive webcomic that started almost a year ago, with a penniless Khajiit girl arriving in Cyrodiil to escape from… more or less… everything in the entire rest of the world. Taking the name Katia Managan, she resolves to put her reckless teenage years, crippling alcoholism and tendency to wake up stark naked in complete strangers’ beds behind her, and become a productive, capable, liked and respected member of Imperial society.
This… doesn’t go entirely according to plan
Cringe comedy barely describes it. You may think that characters like Nordrick have it tough, but that’s nothing compared to the sheer weight of crap the universe keeps dropping on Katia’s head. What makes it more painful is that this isn’t just a metaphor. You see, Prequel is one of those MS Paint Adventures comics, where the audience gets to issue instructions to both Katia and the world, and especially early on, both they and author Kazerad are utter sadists.
These early instalments can be spectacularly painful reading. It’s worth pushing on though, as eventually the tide does slowly start to turn. Katia still lives in a world where everything that can go wrong almost certainly will, but a few tiny, tiny successes (successes like simply making it from Anvil to Kvatch without screwing up) finally start adding a touch of hope to her life. You want to see her find something she can pull herself up with, and as pathetic as most of her moments of happiness are, the expressive art really makes you happy for her. And worried, knowing that any highs she gets are only to make her next humiliating faceplant all the more painful.
But hey. At least she gets to enjoy it while it lasts. Celebratory low-five!
That’s another neat thing about Prequel. It’s not simply words and pictures, as wonderful as both those things are. Individual scenes are animated, whether it’s a character staring at Katia in bemusement or disdain, or something adorable like her ears perking up in excitement. Some episodes even have interactive Flash sections, including a mini RPG for exploring Kvatch.
Most of the time though, you’re left with regular words and pictures – and that’s just fine. The writing is often bitterly, toe-curlingly cruel, but still extremely funny, and the ways the various controllable characters bounce off the audience works superbly for both random plot twists and comedy frustration. At times, you’re left practically shrieking at Katia as she stubbornly refuses to heed the audience’s (actually good) advice. At others, it’s the straight-up humour of a page-long rant about how very non-vampiric a certain perfectly normal human female is, no matter how red her eyes, or how obsessed she gets with a game called Don’t Leave The Shadow.
In short, check it out. You don’t need to know much about Oblivion to follow the story, and updates are regular (if not at regular intervals). The starting chapters can be tough to push through for the sheer weight of horrible things happening and a general feel that Katia would probably be better off climbing into a burlap sack and throwing herself into the nearest well… but it’s worth continuing at least until she discovers a certain skill that might – just might – put an end to her miserable days of being the catgirl the whole world can look down on.