Part Time Gamer, Pyre

[TL;DR]

PROS

  • A complex storyline, beautiful artwork, masterful soundtrack and a compelling combat system combine together to make this game a truly unique gaming experience.
  • You're not sitting through tutorials, the game does what all games should and slowly introduces concepts and before you know it you're knee deep.
  • While the game may be too odd for a brand new gamer, for those of us who have been gaming for years Pyre is a welcome flash of color in a wildly bland gaming scene.

CONS

  • Even with the new "True Nightwing" mode and the various choices you can make throughout the game, I feel it has low replayability. The choices you make only affect character relationships and not the overall story.
  • Lack of online multiplayer. The combat is so deep and complex that learning to master it only to fight the computer seems really pointless in today's gaming scene where most games have some element of PvP or community.

[RANT]

I'm at a point in my life where it takes a lot to impress me in terms of the games I play. I used to walk into a GameStop having done no research and grab whatever cover looked the coolest to me. That's how I walked into a couple of flops like the notoriously bad Rambo game. So I wised up and started reading reviews only to faceplant into Darksiders, which received great ratings in spite of being terrible. It seemed there was no winning this battle.

That's when I started seeking out my people. Putting major review sites aside and hitting up subreddits for games I was already enjoying led to some pretty incredible discoveries. While playing Hearthstone, I learned about Duelyst. While playing Final Fantasy XV, I learned about Horizon Zero Dawn. Then one day the internet blew up over a game called Pyre.

Pyre Main

Nope, I will not be fooled again by these review sites. And all the people on Reddit are just buying into the hype, there's no way this game is... oh ok so the art style is pretty cool... and it's by Supergiant Games? The brilliant minds behind innovative titles like Bastion and Transistor? I guess I'll read a review or two.

A fantastic party-based occult sports RPG... [Pyre] feels like a successor to NBA Jam, if the famous arcade basketball game was set on unfolded pages of a giant book.
— Kotaku

Damn it... take my money.

Interesting, but what's so great?

Nothing could've prepared me for Pyre, and the best part is the developers realize that. In most platformers, the player instinctively knows to move and jump over obstacles, in FPS games players orient themselves to the perspective and begin running and shooting out of muscle memory. But in a game like Pyre, the player must be slowly introduced to the mechanics to fully appreciate the world that SuperGiant has created.

In the beginning, you're instantly gripped by the Dr. Seuss meets Low Fantasy art style and the strangely appropriate soundtrack. Little by little the storyline unfolds, gently easing the player into this peculiar setting known as the Downside – a purgatory-like prison for outcasts who have been banished from the "real world" known as the Commonwealth.

Reading has been deemed illegal in the Commonwealth to use illiteracy and fear to control the masses and it's obvious that the character you control, aptly named "The Reader", was banished for that very reason. Lucky for you though, there is a mystical book that you can read to uncover the mysteries of the Downside which leads you directly into this religious sporting event you've heard so much about up to this point.

The "Rites" are essentially a 3v3 tournament battle where teams of outcasts battle for liberation in a bracket that has been orchestrated by higher powers known as The Scribes. During a rite you control a wide variety of characters each with their own unique abilities and characteristics that make them each essential to various playstyles during the Rites.

On your team of three, only one character can be controlled at a time so much of your strategy relies on knowing the ins-and-outs of each team member and coordinating passes, attacks, and defensive maneuvers to counter your opponents. The game slowly introduces new and more complex mechanics in a natural way as the game progresses until you are knee deep in talents and equipment for your team to maximize their synergy.

Pamitha OP

Sounds great on paper

Pyre is a truly unique endeavor, which cannot be said of the majority of games right now. The UX of explaining it's unique storyline and even more unique gameplay in an understandable way is no easy feat, but SuperGiant nailed it on the head with this one.

They really have something for everyone in terms of character choices and playstyle. For example I think Pametha the harpy is incredibly OP with her immunity dash and ability to literally fly over the enemy, while Ti'zo the imp is, simply put, completely useless. Most of the internet disagrees, but that's the beauty of a game like this - choose your own path.

My main issue with the game was the replayability factor, especially when trying to get 100% trophies but... UPDATE 10/5/2017: This was improved by 'True Nightwing' update which heightens difficulty, unlocks features sooner, and skips tutorials in a second playthrough. So pretty much the game is near perfect now. Review over, go buy it on Steam or PS4.

Evan Lemmons

Lemmons Creative LLC, Alpharetta, Georgia, USA

Husband, father, musician, gamer.