Pyre a vast game with novel and fun me­chan­ics

Bray People - - ENTERTAINMENT -

AFTER only an hour of play­ing Pyre I had al­ready fallen in love with its grip­ping game­play and in­tri­cate but ac­ces­si­ble story. Pyre is like a beau­ti­ful amal­ga­ma­tion of the whim­si­cal quirks of Dr. Seuss and the hor­rors of H.P. Love­craft.

You can see Pyre’s Su­per­giant lin­eage in its top-down per­spec­tive and lush, an­i­mated vis­ual style. You can hear it in the lim­ited but mem­o­rable voice-over work by Lo­gan Cun­ning­ham and gor­geous mu­sic from Dar­ren Korb. Be­yond th­ese sur­face sim­i­lar­i­ties, how­ever, lit­tle else feels fa­mil­iar. Pyre rests at a cross­roads be­tween fan­tasy ad­ven­ture, sports game and vis­ual novel. It feels new, in a way I can rarely say about even the best games, and that new­ness is the most wel­come and pleas­antly sur­pris­ing fea­ture that Pyre brings to the table.

In Pyre, you are one of many ex­iles un­justly trapped in the pur­ga­tory-like Down­side for crimes com­mit­ted against the Com­mon­wealth, but ex­iles that man­age to win enough com­pe­ti­tions known as ‘rites’ have a chance for re­demp­tion. Rites are 3v3 matches that in­cor­po­rate el­e­ments of foot­ball and bas­ket­ball, as well as a healthy dose of fan­tasy RPG el­e­ments. It is a biz­zare and un­likely com­bi­na­tion but one that works in­cred­i­bly well.

Your ba­sic ob­jec­tive dur­ing a rite is to main­tain pos­ses­sion of an orb while sprint­ing, dodg­ing, and leap­ing to­wards your op­po­nent’s goal on the op­po­site end of the court. Run it in, throw it in, or jump over­head into the goal to douse the op­pos­ing team’s pyre and re­duce its en­ergy. If a team’s pyre is de­pleted, they’ve lost the match. You only con­trol one char­ac­ter at a time, and will fre­quently switch con­trol among your tri­umvi­rate to jockey for po­si­tion on the field, or to take ad­van­tage of the nine classes’ unique of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive ma­neu­vers. When Pyre hits its stride, rites be­come fast-paced mind games that call upon your abil­ity to turn on a dime and come up with new strate­gies un­der tense cir­cum­stances.

Pyre is worth play­ing for its ex­cit­ing matches alone, but what makes it wor­thy of renown is how it lever­ages the ten­sion of com­pe­ti­tion to tell a cap­ti­vat­ing story. Like Ro­man gla­di­a­tors, the char­ac­ters you bring into bat­tle are ul­ti­mately com­pet­ing for free­dom. Lose th­ese piv­otal lib­er­a­tion rites, how­ever, and kiss that chance good­bye.

Pyre is a vast game with novel and in­cred­i­bly fun me­chan­ics. Ev­ery­thing from the art di­rec­tion and sound to the story is grip­ping, heartwrench­ing and ex­hil­a­rat­ing in equal mea­sures. If you have the op­por­tu­nity to play this game, I would highly rec­om­mend not pass­ing it up.

Ev­ery­thing about Pyre, from the art di­rec­tion and sound to the story is grip­ping, heartwrench­ing and ex­hil­a­rat­ing in equal mea­sures.

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