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Pyre

is a party-based RPG in which you lead a band of exiles to freedom through an ancient competition spread across a vast, mystical purgatory. read more

Pyre Review

Author: Ricardo Carvalhinho
16-Oct-2017

Category: Review

Enter the Rites and fight for your freedom! Lead a party of exiles through an ancient purgatory and participate in fast-paced sport-like rituals against other Triumvirates. Prevail and you shall return to glory, fail and you shall wander the lands of Downside as an exile forever.

Pyre Review

Introduction

Pyre is the third game developed and published by Supergiant Games, the indie company responsible for Bastion as Transistor. Pyre strays away from his predecessors since it's not a one character focused game. Instead, it's based on three-on-three fast tactic games in which you choose and tweak a cast of exiles with different items and talent choices to confront your opponents. 

Each type of exile has is own strengths and weaknesses and gives a tactical depth to this concept. Pyre is an interesting take in creating a mix between a competitive sport and a party RPG, which gives the game some replay value and the possibility to compete vs other players in head-to-head games. Pyre is available for purchase on Steam for $19.99. 

Story

As soon as the game starts, you are given a first person perspective of someone who has arrived at a land of exile named as the Downside, where you instantly meet a party of exiles called the Nightwings. Soon you realize that you are different from the rest, you are a Reader. As a Reader, you can read the old Book of Rites and become the Nightwings' guide through and ancient path of rituals called Rites.
These Rites consist in confrontations between groups of exiles in which the winner is brought closer to enlightenment and to freedom.

The story is mainly developed by text conversations between the different exiles and you, where at first glance seems you have little to none influence in its course. From time to time, there is a question directed at you in which your answer only seems to affect the disposition of your fellow exiles. Additionally, you get to choose the path you take on your way to the location of the next Rite, which trigger different kind of bonus, from buffs to your party to the collection of rare items. However, what seems to influence the story path is your result in these rites, since there is no game over and every victory or defeat influences your journey.

Pyre Review - Pyre Story Dialogue

As the adventure goes on, you start to add new members to your party, each one with his background, motive of exile and drive to regain freedom. All types of characters feels distinctly different and real enough for you to feel empathy for their struggle. All this attachment becomes more relevant when it's time to choose which one of your exiles deserves liberty - you will probably feel joy for the exile you choose to give freedom but you will definitively feel sorry for the ones who will have to wait for another opportunity.

It's fair to say that the story feels kind of slow paced, since at certain point you are running from Rite to Rite. Further far the story line, as you get to know more and more of the rites, the exiles and their motives, you realize that this linear feeling is deceptive - there are a lot of different endings and outcomes for your journey and all come down to the moral choices you make along the game - which of your exiles deserves freedom? Is your freedom more important than the freedom of those you compete against? All this internal conflicts will give meaning to the story line and will culminate in a unique outcome, for both you, the Nightwings and all of the exiles.

Pyre Review - Sir Gilman

Gameplay

One of the banners of this game is its unique gameplay style. The Rites that drive the game consist on three versus three fast paced sport matches - each team's objective is to drive a special orb through the other team's flame - kind of a goal - while preventing the opposing team from doing the same. This can be achieved by running with the orb through the flames or throwing it from a distance. However, you can only control one character, which introduces a more strategic side to this sport.

While attacking consists in moving the orb between your characters and across the map to reach the opposing goal, defending is all about intercepting the orb or his carrier. Each character has an aura around him and when the aura touches the enemy it banishes them from the field for a few second, making them drop the orb if they are carrying it. Each character has different sized auras - the biggest one always wins when the two collide - and when carrying the orb their aura is reduced to zero, which makes the orb carrier a very fragile target.

Pyre Review - Pyre Rite Match

Each character has a different set of moves that helps them defend or attack better. Every one has a jump skill, that allows them to skip, trespass or fly trough difficult terrain or adversaries and the ability to run or dash in any direction. Both of this skills consume stamina, a resource that regenerates rapidly but it still feels limited due to the lightning-fast pace of some plays.
Additionally, and only without possessing the orb, they all have the capability of shooting they aura at their enemies, which if it hits also banishes the enemy for a few seconds

The RPG factor kicks in with the character customization. Each character's strengths and weaknesses are determined by their four different attributes:
  • Glory - The quantity of damage you inflict in the opponents' flame each time you drive the orb through it.
  • Quickness - Your movement speed.
  • Presence - The size of your aura.
  • Hope - The more hope you have, the faster you re-spawn after you are banished by an opponent's aura.
Additionally, each character has a very simple talent tree that you can unlock as you gain experience through matches, which boosts specific moves or awards special abilities.

Last but not least, they all have a item slot that allows you to further enhance and customize your party with items that you find in your travels or you buy to the game's merchant.

Pyre Review - Pyre Character Screen

Graphics and Audio

I'm not exaggerating when I say that the Graphics and Audio are the highlight of this game. In its' Indie perfection fashion, Supergiant Games managed to deliver once more a true art style masterpiece.
The colors are very bright and with high contrast and the scenarios are vivid and all very different and characteristic. For a point and click world map, it is a pleasure to see the small caravan of exiles cruise through all the scenarios and terrain difficulties, it really feels like an animation movie.
Even the characters all have an artistic feel to their presentation, not only in their static images on the menus and victory screen but also in their animations in-game (during a match) - they are beautifully and very fluidly animated to the point that a match often feels like a theater dance.

Pyre Review - Pyre World Map
Regarding the sound aspect of the game, it blends perfectly with the different paces of the game - calm and soothing for the story telling or exploration and strong and exalted for the intense rituals. Almost all the soundtrack is voiceless, with the exception of a few music that one of the exiled characters sings at specific times or at your request. At a certain point, I found myself talking to that character for almost half an hour, making him play most of the game's soundtrack just for my amusement.

Conclusion

Pyre raises the roof for the Indie genre, combining a very interesting sport mechanism with various RPG elements, blending it all perfectly with a superb art style and sound. The story is simple but compelling and emotionally involving, leaving you to wander on your morality and good judgment, as you juggle your characters' freedom. It is an unique game worth experimenting - you might be surprised by its' unique beauty and gameplay.

PROS
CONS
+ Fast-paced matches
- Lack of depth in the RPG elements
+ Emotional decision making
- Mid-game story feels very repetitive
+ Unique graphics and soundtrack

  

SCORE: 8/10

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