Stars, ballads, friends, and desolation. Developed by Supergiant Games and released in 2018, Pyre has a sense of magic and charm that lasts long after putting it down. The world is full of intrigue, and the fate of those you meet is in your hands.
What does freedom mean to you?
Pyre’s heart is its story. The Downside is a wasteland for exiled dissidents to live out their days. You, the Reader, were banished from the Commonwealth for the crime of literacy. Yet, it is said that those who prevail in the Rites may return, their crimes forgiven. The place and time of these proceedings are decided by the watchful but foreboding stars of the night sky. Throughout the journey, you gather exiles to overcome the Rites. Their personalities and quirks stand out above the larger-scale tale. They are easy to grow fond of.
While every decision moves the story forward, prepare for a lot of reading. Most of the game is spent on the road deciding on direction and dialogue. Lore is told by the accusatory Voice, the game’s narrator, but also the Book of Rites written by the first exiles. The characters speak a made-up language, and though the story never felt overexplained, most of it is text-only. I found myself skipping conversations here and there to hurry the game along, though Pyre is best enjoyed at a relaxed pace.
The Rites themselves have strategical depth. In essence, it is a three-versus-three ball game. Each side has a pyre, and your goal is to get the Celestial Orb into the opposing Triumvirate’s fire until one is extinguished. Characters themselves differ vastly in traits like speed, respawn time, and racial traits acquired by leveling. Each character has an aura that banishes opponents for a short while. There is a huge array of viable strategies and counters against enemy team compositions, which I thoroughly enjoyed exploring.
I found the default control scheme unintuitive, but controls are easy to adjust. While opposition ramps up smoothly to match your learning, enemies becoming smarter and stronger over time, expect some curveballs in difficulty. Luckily, lower difficulty settings help avoid excess time in the field. Serving the narrative, matches were spaced apart well enough for each to feel like a suitably special occasion. The enemy teams, just like yours, consist of unique characters. Their motivations and parts in the story you learn over time.
From the characters to the environments, and the sounds, Pyre is simply beautiful. Each team has a unique theme song, each leg of your journey is wonderfully illustrated and scored, and when appropriate, music gives way to the environment or solemn silence. The soundtrack is worth a listen all by itself, yet gains so much from context. Though I left the world of Pyre satisfied, I still wanted more answers. I wanted to linger, and spend more time with my exiles. The signs of a well-told tale.
If you are a Reader, Pyre makes for an excellent story.
Publisher: Supergiant Games
Developer: Supergiant Games
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS, PlayStation 4
Release Date: 25.7.2017
Genres: action, role-playing, sports
PEGI Rating: 7
Screenshots by the author.
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