What Did I Learn?
Or, what will we learn?
Sarab is a webcomic by Arien Artemis which is interactive. The audience votes on how the comic should proceed. At the end of this comic, the protagonist Sarab is being offered
more power and responsibility. The choice is whether or not Sarab should refuse or embrace his potential. He’s been, more or less, an inconsiderate slacker thus far but he’s not all bad. He has moments where he wonders about doing the right thing, anyway.
As of this review, there have been 18 updates which have revealed the world of Thalamus to be a complex place and we’ve only seen a glimpse, really. It’s hard to know what Sarab should do and whom he should listen to. And that they all have useful, glowing watches. Of course, you can find the story overview on the front page which sheds a lot more light on Sarab and the world of Thalamus.
The art has just enough to it that you focus on the story rather than getting too distracted by the visuals. Also, the color work and special effects are also just enough to carry a sense of wonder. Sometimes, creators keep reusing the same effects – even when it isn’t necessary for the story. Not so in Sarab.
Let’s talk about the audience participation. I believe I’ve seen a few attempts at this, and Sarab seems to be on the winning side. I’m not sure how long it takes for voting to end until the next update appears, but it appears that it averages a little over 8 days per update. The comments reveal that updates are probably more sporadic than that average suggests. (They appear to have a new website layout in the works, too.)
In any case, turning a comic over to the audience is a mixed bag. I think the creators have to lead the audience down interesting paths while letting them make important decisions. A choice of turn left or right doesn’t really change anything while letting the audience decide to kill off a major character might be letting them have too much power. Audiences want to be teased a bit, so you can’t let them dictate.
In reviewing the audience’s voting, there are a few more urging for the story to go the hero route as opposed to the lone wolf route. Still, in update 5, they voted to kill the girl, which struck me as a little rough. Actually, they don’t like any of the girls. I wonder what the audience demographics are…
What Did I Learn?
Really, this voting interaction is very much like a comic that has a very vocal fanbase. When you have a large number of fans, some of their suggestions are bound to be good and you’d be foolish not to consider them. At the same time, you have to stick to your vision. So I’m interested in seeing how Sarab continues and if the overall story continues to be engaging as time goes on.