Game Review: Pyre

Pyre is a bit of an odd duck.  Its individual components are incredibly well executed.  The art is amazing, even breathtaking.  The sound effects, voice overs and music are perfect.  The game is smooth and well-crafted.  And it’s a shame because the holistic experience is… well, it’s a bit of a slog.

Pyre is the newest game developed by Supergiant Games, of Bastion and Transistor fame, and this seems to be their foray into a kind of experimental gameplay.  It’s a bit of a narrative adventure, like a dating sim almost, with the main gameplay taking place in the form of ‘rites’, which are essentially a sort of fantasy rugby.

I’m not opposed to a fantasy/sports type of game, and I went into the game optimistic, having enjoyed Megaman Soccer, Blitzball, NBA Street, and Power Pros.  But, boy, where do I start with this.  It’s not bad, but it’s not great either.  Let’s get into it.

First, the good stuff.  As I mentioned, the art is so good it borders on mindblowing at times.  There is so much attention to detail in the backgrounds, the character designs and the animations are super fluid.  There’s something about the way your characters’ wagon lurches when it comes to a stop that’s just downright impressive.  It reminds me of those trippy old 70s cartoons like The Hobbit, but way sleeker.

The music is interesting, not only because it’s good, but because it intersperses diagetic and non-diagetic music.  At times, your local minstrel will offer to play a song that, in true-to-form minstrel fashion, tells the story of what just happened to you.  Which is a bit of a double edged sword actually.  On one hand, the performance is good, on the other, it draws up unwanted memories of that bit on Family Guy where Randy Newman sings about what he sees.