Backlog Talk: Pyre

Another week, another week of me sitting inside of my apartment trying not to catch a virus. This week I look at my Steam library, play a lot of Planet Zoo and then realize that what I should be doing is tackling my enormous backlog worth of games. I decided to tackle a game that was rich in story and not a complete waste of my time and this is week I talk about Pyre!

Pyre is a story focused indie game with RPG elements from the creators of Bastion and Transistor. Pyre retails for $20 that is available for everything but the Nintendo Switch. Supergiant Games released Pyre in 2017 and I am stupid and getting to it in 2020.

You wake up in a desert all alone when a band of masked people in blue and red garb pick you up and cram you inside of their very tiny wagon. Hedwyn, the charismatic and idealistic leader, Jodariel, a pessimistic demon that has spent upwards of a decade in the Downside and Rukey Greentail, the other charismatic and opportunistic dog are your companions during the adventure. Not so long after do the three protagonists realize that you are a READER, or an individual that can commune with the stars and oddly enough help them navigate The Rites to achieve their freedom. Thus it comes to fruition that you and your merry gang are part of a elaborate ruse to bring a revolution to The Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is paradise, only because they exile those who have committed crimes to what will be known as The Downside. The Downside is a trash place where convicts dwell, and fight for both survival and the ability to gain favor with The Scribes and ascend back to The Commonwealth. The plot is one that describes what tiny steps need to be taken so that a revolution can take hold within a society. Characters consistently have their faith tried, their bodies exhausted and allegiances betrayed by you, the Reader and their friendly combatants. The real revolutionary comes into being as Volfred Sandalwood and his entrance institutes the choice between what can be a peaceful or bloody war that ensues within the Commonwealth when you anoint those to ascend back. Volfred is angry and he pursues this emotional up until the final liberation rite occurs. The plot is good, really in-depth and it is aided by really likable characters and dialogue. The focus on compassion and kinship are important to the likability of the story as a whole. The ancient book that can be read has a plethora of more information about the first war with the Commonwealth and more in-depth accounts from specific generals and such.

The Rites, in essence, a 3 vs 3 sort of sporting event. Each group selects three players and a ball drops to start the match. Each team passes jumps and banishes player until they get to slam-dunk the ball into the other teams pyre. Each team usually has a pyre life of 100 up until the later Rites where opponents can have up to 150. The Rites do not have the spotlight; they seem to just aid the progression of the plot or just be downtime from reading so much fucking dialogue. They are incredibly easy as well. I think I had only one Rite that was remotely difficult, other than that they were a breeze.

Each character that you pick up along the road have base stats and abilities that can be upgraded through participating these Rites. Each character has two routes to choose when upgrading abilities and they are usually pretty diverse. Most abilities are passive, either it makes them travel faster, has a shorter banishment time or a stamina boost. The upgrades are very apparent within the game-play but they do not really help because when the Rites come around they are already pretty easy, so the upgrades just make it even easier.

When I played through the first time I was interested with the choices that had to be made when traveling to certain areas or taking one characters opinions over another. Certain choices reward the player with items to sell at the market and others give characters stats for a Rite or even permanently. The choices that you make do not naturally affect the plot up until the Liberation Rites and you have to anoint someone to ascend back to the Commonwealth to pursue the next revolution. The conclusion of the game is reliant on who you choose and there are multiple endings that are based on your choices.

I play Pyre liked I played all of other Supergiant games‘, I read into every god damn dialogue to a certain point and then I get bored of all of the dialogue screens and proceed to flip past them because the characters are just saying the same old shit that I don’t care about. I did enjoy the plot for what it is worth. The characters are all well portrayed and I loved everyone except Sandalwood, he can still go fuck himself. I was genuinely sad when the characters I anointed ascended into the Commonwealth to live their lives free again. I love the art direction. Every area has a ton of colors that were at the same time beautiful and headache inducing. The Rites were easy and I found little joy in playing for them. They just felt like chores when getting to the end of the game. The music is fantastic, as always. There is a theme that each of the opposing teams and they are all very impressive. Pyre is another game that Supergiant Games produced that has just as much love as Bastion and Transistor. The world that they created in Pyre is phenomenal. You learn so much about the lore from reading the book that is updated every single time you visit a new area or interact with a team. I finished my first play through just over the eight hour mark and I liked the game. I am trying to play through again to try and cover ground that I hadn’t during the first play through.

Sometimes it is in fact EXHAUSTING reading all of that text and dialogue. Got to the point that I thought reading a fucking dictionary would have been more fun.

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