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The Storyteller Season 4 – Bingeworthy Review

The Storyteller

The Storyteller is a machinima(a film that uses pre-rendered animations) series set in the Fallout series of games. The series features a wandering historian called The Storyteller as he travels the wasteland of post nuclear America. Season 4 follows him to the Commonwealth, the setting of Fallout 4, as he searches for a lost friend and the man who kidnapped her.

The Story So Far

The Storyteller, the series, has gone be several names in its run. Originally it was simply known as The Fallout Lore Series. The first season was  a simple endeavor featuring a baritone narrator relating many stories from the fallout series in a way reminiscent of a Ken Burns documentary. Season 2 changed things, starting with the title. The Wasteland Survival Guide maintained the tone and feel of the first season but gave the narrator a face, sort of, a name, and a companion. The Newly christened Storyteller even began to show some character development of his own reflected in his interaction with wasteland wanderers and anyone else who had time to hear a story or two, whether they liked it or not.

Though many of the stories found in the Fallout world are grim, tragic, and terrible the series is not without a little humor. In the finale of season 2 the Storyteller was compelled to shout “What smells Like Brahman Shit Around Here?” in order to unlock messages from a Capitol wasteland DJ(guest voice Erik Todd Dellums as Three Dogg) and set to the music of Eric Brown’s Might Man. Following that, with the beginning of season 3, The Storyteller did something very different. He pulled out a guitar and held a singalong ballad about A Man Named Ed.

Going Original

Season 3 saw a major departure from the formula of previous seasons starting with another title change, The Storyteller: A Fallout Lore Series. The next was the introduction of original characters and an original side story. Helen Tanner, a New California Republic Ranger, pressed The Storyteller into service to go after a dangerous fugitive. Along the way they met a man named Junior, and a talking dog’s brain housed inside a heavy machine gun. The group faced many obstacles in their journey, the biggest of which were the Luddites. They traveled from Utah to St Louis, following the trail of destruction left behind by the fugitive. In St Louis they found nothing but blood, death, and smoldering ruin left behind by the fugitive. The only survivor of the massacre was a Supermutant, King Ludd himself(guest voice Wes Johnson).

The season’s climax came with the dramatic confrontation between the travelers and their quarry, the android clone of the Original Vaunt Dweller hero from the first Fallout game. He sabotaged the Storyteller’s armor, turned Tanner’s Dog/gun against her, shot Junior in the back, and kidnapped Tanner and escaped before Brotherhood reinforcements arrived. He left a message for the Storyteller. Tanner is his prisoner and will remain alive if The Storyteller would lead him to The Commonwealth, the region once known as Massachusetts, and the organization known as The Institute.

Season 4

picks up some years later with the Storyteller arriving in The Commonwealth. The series returns to old form following The Storyteller as he wanders the ruins of Boston. He speaks in depth about the major factions, raider gangs, landmarks, and relevant issues from The Great War and before. Unlike previous seasons this one takes place concurrent with the timeline of the game. Sadly much of the charm and narrative built in the previous season is lost in this first half of season 4. Tanner is still missing, the cyborg is nowhere to be seen, and the search for the Institute is forgotten in lieu of setting the stage for the region.

The second half of the season is where the story finally picks up where it left off. Sadly the pacing of the story feels disjointed as Tanner miraculously returns and ED-NA, the Storyteller’s robotic companion, is no where to be seen. The search for the fugitive cyborg is back on in Nuka World. It almost feels like the producers were waiting for the final DLC to be released before continuing with the story.

Canonized

A final surprise comes in the form of the Sole Survivor and Dogmeat, the protagonist of the game. The unexpected team up is a pleasure and offers a fun counterpoint to the Cyborg Vault Dweller in the final showdown. The final encounter, while quick, is satisfying and puts a neat cap on the story. Rounding out the final fight is a cycling epilogue similar to the reels found at the end of Fallout: New Vegas. This was a curious narrative choice but fits with the theme of the series.

Technical Differences

Previous seasons of The Storyteller were filmed in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. These two games operate on the same engine and share many of the same environmental assets. However the previous games were released in 2008 and 2010 respectively and the visuals show their age. Season 4 was filled in Fallout 4(F4), which was released in 2016 and features many changes and updates from the previous games. The most significant being how power armor is seen and used. In previous games the armor is worn like any other.

Armor Up

In F4 the armor is fitted into a stand alone frame that seals around the wearer. This adds significant bulk and height to the models where before it looked more form fitting. Instead of gloves the armor has mechanical extremities that mirror the movement of the hands. This issue is not addressed in the series and may cause some visual dissonance for some viewers. But a series like this come with a degree of suspension of belief so the change in power armor mechanics and its impact on the main character can be overlooked. Even when The Storyteller shows off the ability to negate fall damage by stepping off the top floor of a skyscraper and striking the ground in a superhero pose.

Despite my complaints, The Storyteller season 4 is a delight to watch. Despite the many title changes the subtitle has always been Fallout Lore Series and Shoddycast has done a terrific job of showcasing those stories and crafting their own within it. I highly recommend this series to anyone, be they fallout fan or not.

PS.

A special message followed with the end credits. Executive Producer Randy Parish offers personal thanks to viewers and supporters of The Storyteller series and The Shoddycast channel, which recently reached one million subscribers. In addition to his thanks he has an announcement for the future of The Storyteller. The series is going to move away from recounting stories from the main games and move into original stories from the Shoddycast team. This is very exciting news for me and I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

Thank you for watching and reading.

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