This review of StarCraft II: Devil’s Due is of the spoiler-free variety.
Devil’s Due picks up five years after the final operational by the Heaven’s Devils (review), one which forced the remaining squad members to go AWOL. James Raynor and Tychus Findlay remain comrades-in-arms, but of a different variety. Now the pair performs snatch-and-grabs, “freeing” credits from the Confederacy’s hands to spend with reckless abandon at local, often seedy, establishments. The tandem has spent a half decade performing these odd jobs, causing the local authorities and bigger fish to take notice. Before Raynor and Finlay get comfortable in their new life, their past acts come back to haunt them.
Author Christie Golden makes it immediately clear that Devil’s Due is going to be a different type of tale. We’re not going to learn about Raynor’s heroism, his bravery in the face of battle, the Heaven’s Devils’ reunion or officer attributes. This is a dangerous time in Raynor’s and Tychus’ life. They’re a criminal element, walking a fine line between Robin Hood-esque robberies and moral destitute. They frequent seedy establishments. The kind that are full of alcohol, prostitutes, recreational drugs – legal and not – and backroom deals, like Wicked Wayne’s. This is a mature look in to Raynor’s moral development. Golden paints him as an anti-hero at best and a reserved thug at worse.
Christie Golden’s intoxicating ability to paint a setting is in full effect. As Raynor and Co. fly around the human-populated universe, each destination is gloriously depicted. No matter how run down, misshapen, short or long a stay, rich or devastated the current terra firma may be, Golden deludes us with setting. The struggle she goes to place us in the immense universe probably isn’t needed – they (mainly) frequent known in-game planets – but readers may not remember how humans lived before the devastating intergalactic war broke out.
Throughout all the action, planet hopping and whoring done, there’s one constant. It doesn’t matter if Tychus and Raynor are running from the law, the past or themselves, they’re always looking out for each other. The fact that they’re being hunted becomes background noise, an ends to a means for Golden to express how much the veterans respect, admire and protect one another. An honor among intelligent, symbiotic thieves. They’ve got their quirks, but they’ve become brothers. Period, no qualification needed. The bait-and-switch isn’t a distraction purely because it is executed with the attention to detail of a Ryk Kydd sniper shot.
Any fan of StarCraft should pick up Devil’s Due. Even if you aren’t the biggest lore buff around, Golden has created an unprecedented story in Blizzard’s universe, any of them. Frankly, I’m shocked that Blizzard gave Golden such free reign with these characters (Yes, I know Blizzard vets everything, but still). Devil’s Due treats readers to a mature, no-holds-barred telling of one of StarCraft’s most famous characters. We learn how he came to be, how his morals were founded, and why Tychus and Raynor go to the end of the world for each other. Ironically, without foreknowledge of these character’s futures, the tale is just a violent bromance.