Few video game console launch titles have overcome so much disappointment so quickly as Ryse: Son of Rome. Crytek‘s one-time Kinect-only adventure resurfaced at E3 2013 to a resoundingly indifferent reaction from audiences. Featuring unfashionably frequent Quick Time Events, canned animations and more, Microsoft’s top-tier exclusive threatened to fall out of favor altogether, before some improved presentation and positive press brought it back.

Speaking of falls, the game’s ongoing web series, titled The Fall, finally got underway this past week, debuting the first two chapters of a four-episode Machinima-made run. Check out episode 1 above, or scroll down to reach part 2.

Episode 1, ‘Funeral,’ recounts the murder of game protagonist Marius Titus’ family at the hands of a barbarian horde. A savage, and seemingly unprovoked attack, this vicious onslaught sets in motion a chain of events culminating in Ryse: Son of Rome itself. Narrated by a spectral figure, dispensing sage and mysterious advice — not unlike God of War‘s Athena — Machinima’s four-minute opus sets the stage for Titus, and by extension the player’s own Euro tour of revenge.

Where ‘Funeral,’ for the most part lacks action, episode 2, entitled ‘Spirit of Vengeance,’ ups the blood and guts quota considerably, shifting attention away from Marius Titus to tell the tale of Damocles, a Roman general turned 1st century slasher film villain.

Much like Season 1 of the similarly gritty Game of Thrones, The Fall wisely opts to avoid depicting any large-scale, on-screen confrontations. Instead, its limited budget is put to good use, in designing a vivid and realistic take on Roman architecture, dress sense, and so forth. Sadly, these high quality production values don’t extend quite as far as casting, as Marius and co. deliver a couple of clunky lines here and there.

With little known about Ryse‘s actual narrative – beyond the presence of cutthroat barbarians and corrupt politicians – Titus’ tale could wind up just about anywhere, with The Fall offering a few, potentially spoilerific surprises. The series’ opening credits, for instance, feature a fiery sword falling on Brittania, home to episode 1’s barbarians and Marius’ supposed enemies. With the camera focused on good old blighty, a number of disembodied voices discuss Titus in glowing, god-like terms, before the view shifts back to Italy, and acclaim quickly turns to terror. Whether responsible for his initial grief, or by simply adding to it, expect Rome’s own set of scoundrels to play a part in Marius’ late-game adventures.

Are you enjoying The Fall, so far? Which other franchises could benefit from the web series treatment? Do tie-in products ever influence your decision to buy a game? Have your say in the comments below, and be sure to check in with all of the latest Ryse: Son of Rome news, right here on Game Rant.


Ryse: The Fall will conclude its four-part run on November 12th, 2013

Ryse: Son of Rome launches alongside the Xbox One on November 22nd, 2013.

Follow Sam on Twitter @GamingGoo.