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    dkirschner's Pyre (PC)

    [March 11, 2024 09:09:55 AM]
    A Supergiant Games game! I loved Bastion and Transistor, and knew that this one was a bit different, some sort of RPG-sports hybrid. I have been looking forward to playing it, with dreams of Blitzball. Itís a tougher recommendation than the first two, though. And whatever preconceived notions I had about playing RPG basketball were a bit misplaced. I think that first and foremost, this is a visual novel, with some RPG, sports, and MOBA elements. As a visual novel, the focus is on character development and storytelling, and I think that if you approach it like this, then you will enjoy it more. As per other Supergiant Games games, the narrative, the worldbuilding, the characters, all that is quite good. You will spend more time reading, especially if you read the (100 or so?) entries in the Book of Rites, than doing anything else.

    Youíll recognize similar themes as in Bastion and Transistor: a disembodied voice (here, not so much a narrator, but actually a titular Voice) whose origin is later revealed; characters who are trapped in one way or another (here physically in the Downside and by reputation and past deeds); and an end-of-the-world scenario (or a major change or remaking of the world). Despite the shift in genre, some of the RPG stuff is still there (combat, leveling up, some equipment, some skill trees), and so is the modifiable difficulty of Bastion and Transistor, this time in the form of constellations, members of a pantheon that you can toggle on/off to make the Rites (the MOBA/basketball sport) harder on yourself.

    The Rites is the sports part. You and others cast into the Downside must compete in the Rites to earn your freedom and return to the Commonwealth. The Rites are divinely inspired and ritualistic, serious business. Most of the characters (especially those on the opponentsí teams) very much want their freedom, and they all resent the system that would cast people into the Downside. Much of the story is about how the Rites came to be, including about the Eight Scribes who banished the Titans and formed the triumvirates, and on and on, and you can read the extensive mythology.

    I am trying to start talking about how the Rites work, but keep veering instead into the narrative surrounding the Rites because thatís the more interesting part! It really is ďjustĒ RPG/MOBA basketball. Games are played between two teams of three. Your goal is to put the celestial orb (ball) into the other teamís pyre (basket) and extinguish it (score enough points to win). Each character has attributes that govern movement speed, how quickly they respawn once defeated, how large their ďauraĒ (attack range) is, and how much damage they do to the enemy pyre. They also all have some movement and attack abilities (e.g., sprint, leap; project aura, spawn sapling), and can gain various skills (e.g., more stamina, faster speed, faster respawn, force enemy to drop the ball in flight, etc.). The characters really donít play all that differently from one another, Rites are over in a matter of minutes, and in my experience, the faster/more mobile the character, the better they are. Fast characters, especially once upgraded with stamina and greater burst speed, can just zip around the field and outmaneuver the slower ones. Sure, their strength isnít great, so you have to score a few more baskets, but youíll be doing donuts around the strong, slow characters. The game emphasizes teamwork, but it isnít all that necessary.

    All in all, the story is the star. The sports addition was a miss. It was a weak vehicle for delivering narrative. I would have liked a more fleshed out sports component, with more complexity, longer matches, and so on. I think I could have really gotten into it then.
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    dkirschner's Pyre (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Friday 8 March, 2024

    GameLog closed on: Monday 11 March, 2024

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Neat story and setting, but gameplay is pretty simple. Interested in how it progresses. ---------- Definitely simple sportsball. Story is the star.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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