In preparation for Watch_Dogs: Legion coming in March 2020, Titan Comics have released a tie-in comic series to get gamers reacquainted with the world of Watch_Dogs, DedSec, ctOS and Blume Industries.
Having seen the game set in Chicago and San Francisco so far – with London incoming – the Watch_Dogs comic this time focuses on Rio de Janeiro, particularly the favela of Rocinha.
Return to Rocinha centres around Sauda, a young hacker who comes home to the favela to help save her brother who has been drawn into drug dealing after a terrible family incident drove them apart. Sauda managed to escape the gangs during this incident, but this is where they picked up and recruited her brother.
All this is revealed in a flashback partway through the bumper comic. It opens with Sauda in October 2016 hacking into a tourist drone that is used to give views of the favelas without tourists wandering through the dangerous streets. ctOS – the Central Operating System – has reached Rio; it’s the smart-city software that controls street lights, security cameras, traffic, public transport and everything else hooked up to the grid. It makes the city tick and keeps everything running smoothly, or at least that’s what Blume Industries want you to believe. Under the surface it keeps track of a worrying amount of personal data, echoing real-life conversations being had with tech companies right now.
It is also used by hackers to gain access to all the above and much more.
After revealing what happened to her and her family, Sauda manages to find her brother, Sebastião, preparing to sell drugs to a customer. He sees this as her intruding and tells her where to go. If Sauda is to rescue her brother, it would help that he wanted to be rescued.
Sauda’s hacking skills attract the attention of DedSec – the main hacktivist group in the Watch_Dogs universe – who want to offer some assistance to help her and her cause. But DedSec aren’t afraid to use violence, and Sauda is reluctant to do so. At first at least. She quickly finds a way to improvise and get her revenge on those that ‘employ’ her brother.
This behaviour does however attract the attention of not only the gangs of Rocinha, but also the local police. But could the gangs and the cops be in cahoots with each other?
This extended first issue of Watch_Dogs comes in at 56 pages and has a whole lot of plot in it as it attempts to create a canonical story to the universe of Watch_Dogs. So far, it is looking well on track to do so.
Sauda falls somewhere between Aiden and Marcus in terms of personality. Naturally resentful for her past, but not too upbeat that it becomes grating, she is a decent protagonist. Her motivations are pure; she just wants the best for her brother.
What is a little disappointing is the lack of any major hacking during this first issue. All that really gets ‘hacked’ is a drone and a car. But with ctOS still to arrive in the favela – and the second issue taking place four years after the events of the first – I expect this to be much more prominent in the second issue.
For the most part, the artwork is good enough. It isn’t spectacular, but it does a good job illuminating the bleak yet sun-drenched rooftops of the favelas and the characters all show emotions when necessary. The lettering when Sauda is communicating with DedSec is pretty good, clearly highlighting the electronic nature of this conversation.
This first issue of Watch_Dogs from Titan Comics definitely has the feel of a Watch_Dogs game; the feeling that Big Brother is always watching you, and the feeling that it only takes one person to start a revolution. Sauda is able to stand toe-to-toe with other Watch_Dogs characters, and the medium of comics allow the writers to tell a story that would have been tricky on a games console – the ending of the first issue in particular. Hopefully this can keep pace throughout subsequent issues. The extra long length makes this first issue an instant pick-up for those that are even only half interested, and all signs are looking good for this to continue throughout its run.