It’s rare to hear an audio drama that has so much world building in it and I’m not talking about the ambience. I’m a sucker for political intrigue in stories and Ika Roa has so much of it that I was engrossed from the first episode. On top of that, I understood everything. Generally the biggest problem with audio dramas so focused on world building is the steep learning curve. Every story has one, there’s not getting around it. Some stories have steeper learning curves than others. Ika Roa manages to get the information across in the most interesting way possible…through dialogue riddled with character conflicts. It’s not enough anymore to write dialogue that is just an info dump, especially in stories that require a script. It’s a subset of “maid and butler” dialogue (where both characters talk about things they already know for the benefit of the reader). That’s not to say that dialogue has to be filled with conflict, but it makes it more interesting that way. It’s why audiences like well-written, back and forth banter in movies aka “snappy” dialogue.”
All that said, as the series progressed, confusion inevitably came. Not from what was going on, but from the cast of characters having gotten to the point that only a few characters were recognizable. Governor Warren, Karra, and the characters directly in their social group were the most fleshed out. The others from the trading company, really weren’t characters. They were your typical corporate people, no dimension to them. Their purpose was to create tension, which is good. I just wish they were used for more than just plot devices. They kind of just faded into the background until the very end, almost changing into a force of nature.
Aside from the confusion as the series progressed, I found myself getting less and less interested in what was going on. The ending fulfills on the promises, but doesn’t go as big as it could go. It’s very much a full circle kind of story and mostly everything got wrapped up. Again, maybe the show could’ve done more in the “wow that climax was awesome” department. As it stands though, Ika Roa is a wonderful modern audio drama and a nice change of pace from most audio dramas I hear.