Previews// Pyre

Posted 19 Aug 2016 12:33 by
In the opening hours of PAX East 2016 I already knew what game I was going to make a beeline for as I stepped onto the expo hall floor. That game was Pyre, Super Giant Games's new game that takes the much celebrated studio in a very different and sport-related direction - certainly one I wasn't expecting.

Pyre is both adventure and competitive sports wrapped in an extraordinarily realised world that, during the play-through I experienced at PAX East, was only hinted at. Expelled by an organisation known only as 'The Commonwealth', the main protagonist is rescued by a trio of travellers who are similarly shunned by this group.

The Commonwealth is obsessed with control to the point where it demands that no-one within its governance is allowed to read. This is an edict Pyre's protagonist has decided to ignore due to their thirst for knowledge. This has led to their expulsion and potential death, with the latter avoided only thanks to the passing travellers.

Pyre is presented in two forms. One is an adventure game in which the player chooses actions and interacts with various people as the group travel across the world in a caravan like vehicle. Within this caravan are piles of books and texts, all forbidden by The Commonwealth and the primary source of power for the group, for contained within the pages of these books are the means by which the group's special abilities are enhanced, which is vital if they are to survive the duals with the sphere when battling foes.

Combat in Pyre is essentially a simplified version of rugby that requires the player to move a sphere onto the opposing side's Pyre. Yes you read that correctly; Super Giant Games have made a rugby game. Where are you going...? Oh come on! Don't be like that! There's no scrum in Pyre and there are only three players per side, so let's not get too anxious over the obvious influence Pyre has in terms of its combat model. I only cite rugby as an influence as the tactics used in that sport can be applied to Pyre very easily (to much success I might add).

As combat is initiated two pyres appear on the left and right hand sides of the screen, coloured blue and yellow respectively. Each team member has an aura around them that harms any opposing team member that approaches them. This aura is removed once that player collects the sphere. This leaves them very vulnerable to attack and is reliant on the other team members to protect them. When a team member is not being directly controlled they remain static. They do have auras around them, but remain stationary as the other team member moves.

Once a team member enters the opposing team's Pyre with the sphere the power of the Pyre is diminished. Once it reaches zero the combat ends and the team that caused the Pyre to extinguish wins. It is possible to fire a team member's aura at an opposing player, causing them harm and possibly ejecting them from the play field temporarily. All participants eventually return to the playing field unless they ran into the Pyre with the sphere, at which point they no longer take part in the combat. Such an action does increase the power depletion of the Pyre, but the cost is the loss of a team member.

Post match the player is offered upgrades to team members that increase their speed and other abilities, giving the player a much needed edge as they venture further into the hostile realms found in Pyre. I found the depth being demonstrated within Pyre initially a little intimidating. Hopefully this is something Super Giant Games can focus on during its development.

The presentation of Pyre is of the typical high standard that people have come to expect from Super Giant Games.
The artistry on display is breathtaking and the writing is of similar quality.

With Pyre not due to appear for another year, I guess I'm going to have to wait things out on the sidelines before I get to fully experience this amazing hybrid of storytelling and sports game wrapped into one.
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