Game Review: Pyre

The surface level writing is quite well done.  You don’t typically want to skip through the character dialog or interactions.  Also, they do a pretty cool thing where there are highlighted words you can hover over to get more info, which made the text feel interactive.  In one section you construct a speech using this highlighted word setup, and that was very interesting.

The gameplay itself is inventive and the developers did a good job at pioneering a gameplay system and creating a lot of different archetypes to populate it with.  There are 8 types of units in the ‘rites’, and those include your average-at-everything spellcaster, your hulking brute, a speedy ninja type, a flying unit, a bog-witch, a defensive goalie, a fast attacker, and an oddball wildcard focused on unpredictability and self-destruction.  And in creating those archetypes they also partially managed to achieve a rock-paper-scissors type of strategy, although in practice the fast characters who can fly tend to win out, at least on normal difficulty.

There’s a barebones RPG style upgrade tree which helped me get a little more invested in progression, but it didn’t really do much for me.  The upgrades just weren’t deep or interesting enough.  They did upgrade the characters, but they didn’t significantly change how they play or what they were capable of in the way that say, in World of Warcraft, choosing a Beastmaster Hunter vs a Survival Hunter changes the way the character plays.

As for the bad… well, it’s hard to really put my finger on it.  The plot develops a great deal of mystery, but the payoffs were sorely lacking.  And while the writing is decent, there’s too much of it and it’s a chore to get through sometimes.  Without spoiling anything, while I wanted the ending to pay off a lot of the build up and mystery, what I got was like, the ultimate required smorgasbord of reading about things that, still trying to avoid spoilers here, I just didn’t care about.  Upon completing it I just felt kind of hollow.

That feeling of hollowness was a problem from beginning to end.  I felt like ‘what is the point of any of this?’  The plot did a decent job getting the characters from point A to point B, but it always felt like the plot existed as interstitials to the various rites.  While I learned a lot about the characters’ backstories in sort of long exposition dumps, and it explained why everyone was there, it overall lacked any deeper allegory or message or lesson, or, for lack of a better word, point.

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