Supergiant Games’ worlds captivate with their atmosphere and keep you hooked to the screen owing to a well-paced storyline and excellent gameplay. It’s no different with Pyre, the third game from the American company that’s now the greatest.
We are immersed in a vivid and fascinating universe from the first minutes, as disoriented as our heroine, who has been flung into the region known as Downside and is on the edge of death. Three masked characters arrive to help: a man, a dog on two legs, and a gigantic demoness. They are preparing for a mysterious ceremony, but they are missing someone who is skilled in the prohibited art of reading. A really clever method is to cast the receiver in the position of someone unique in the world. We feel immersed in history, providing our trip companions with information they do not have. At the same time, the function of the viewer looking from the side and having a greater viewpoint makes us feel like we are a part of the reality produced by Supergiant.
The goal of the game is to complete a sequence of ceremonies that will allow former citizens of a magnificent village who have been put into Downside for their misdeeds to reclaim their freedom. We feel the mystical atmosphere of Pyre almost from the start, which only intensifies as the book describing the rituals reveals more fragments of the history of the fallen empire and the eight scribes behind the creation of the current order, both in the exiled’s homeland and in the country to which the exiles want to return. Throughout the game, we will come across several dozen pages of stories written in a high, inspired tone that contributes to the mood. Although reading everything is not required, it does enhance the overall experience. We’ll also spend a lot of time chatting to our companions and learning about their backgrounds and perspectives. During the trip, the basic three protagonists are joined by five more characters, and while some of them play clichéd roles, none of them can be accused of being poorly written. Each has a nemesis in the shape of the head of one of the teams taking part in the rites. The core aspect of Pyre gaming – a mysterious ceremony that is said to grant the winners freedom – is an intriguing variant on the game of handball. During each ceremony, two teams of three attempt to extinguish their opponent’s pyre by inserting a star ball into it. The players differ in terms of speed, unique abilities, and the size of the aura, which, when touched, throws the opponents into oblivion for a few seconds. When a character hops into a stack, it causes damage to it before disappearing for the following round, which is a difficult balancing act.
Rituals replace fighting in other games, and they do so quite effectively. Sports competitions are never boring, and various difficulties – which work very similarly to those in Bastion and Transistor – allow us to simply modify the challenge to our specific demands if we believe one of the teams to be extremely poor. The difficulty level rises as we proceed and varies based on who we battle and where we fight. However, the number of opponents is so huge that picking a strategy is tough. As a result, it is worth growing all heroes and not abandoning anybody for an extended period of time. Especially since those who are placed in reserve in one battle might enter the arena with a benefit to experience points the next time. Supergiant claims that players will accomplish Pyre in a number of ways, which appears to be the case. At every step, we are confronted with tiny and huge decisions that influence our path, relationships with partners, and even the fate of certain opponents. Although the implications of certain actions are minor, the amount of story twists is amazing and appears to ensure fresh experiences. It is also critical that you are not punished by the makers for losing ritual conflicts, at least the minor ones. Our team’s involvement in the overall plot implies that even if we lose, we can still reach the ultimate rite that determines freedom. Despite this, emotions remain high throughout the tournament. The mystical, imaginary explanation for this condition of affairs makes a lot of sense and adds to the plot.
The designers of Bastion and Transistor have always provided excellent audiovisual settings, but in the case of the current game, they have outdone themselves. At every curve, the colorful Downside, through which we journey in a pixie-powered cart, enchants us. The smooth transitions between places and animations would make animated filmmakers jealous. The fact that the carriage’s shelves have been gradually filled with mementos from all around the world makes you smile and brilliantly illustrates the richness of the imagined universe. Darren Korb, the composer who has been with Supergiant since the beginning, also performed an excellent job. Individual team music backdrops wonderfully express their personality, and ballads portraying certain teams’ challenges performed during crucial battles are a superb compliment to the rituals. It’s great to return to the automobile between conflicts to listen to the songs strummed by the bard.
Pyre is a story about individuals making errors, giving themselves for others, and battling for the greater good – you can feel it both during the journey and at the conclusion. Supergiant has planned a series of stories involving winged, snake-like, and horned heroes whose movements and emotions appear genuine. When we combine fascinating gameplay, a plethora of options, and multiple intriguing story twists, we obtain an almost flawless production.