Yesterday, after 13 hours of play, I finished Tyranny. I bought the game only couple a days ago and I just couldn’t stop playing it, so I finished it rather quickly. Here’s some of my thoughts about it.
Tyranny is remarkably similar to Pillars of Eternity, since they use the same engine. The only big change is the story and setting itself, so they aren’t tied to each other. I absolutely loved Pillars of Eternity, so I will be doing some comparing between the two. I will write a post about Pillars when I have finished the White March expansions.
In Tyranny, you start your game creating your character. The character creation is pretty basic, there’s no other playable races than human and you can only choose your past and weapons, then skill points and all that good stuff. After that, though, you will get into “conquest” mode.
In conquest-mode you will be making decisions that shape the world. Your decisions in this game will matter, and it shows! From what I gathered when playing, there’s no really right or wrong, there’s just choices and consequences. But the consequences can hinder your gameplay, or make it easier.
After you’ve done conquesting, you see a tiny cutscene, well, more like a slideshow with narration, but the artstyle and writing is really worth your attention! You will then play in a tiny tutorial area, that is also part of the story… And things begin to unravel.
|My character Tobias|
Quickly about the combat: I’m not much into the combat in these type of games. I’m the kind of wuss that plays on story mode, because I’m more interested in the story than the intricacies of the combat. Yes, me, who loves the crap out of FPS games, don’t really care for combat in this sort of games. I always feel like I’m way too stupid to get it, so I just put the game on easy and watch the carnage. It’s just my way to play these type of games.
Anyway, the combat is fun. It’s very similar to Pillars: It’s realtime combat but you can pause it any time, you can have multiple weapons and switch between them during battle and you have tons of skills to choose from. There’s also spellmaking sort of thing, where you can make spells for your characters, but I didn’t really dabble with that so I can’t talk much about it.
The one thing that stood to me the most was the combo-skills between your character and their companions. If you made friends (or made your companion fear you), you would gain these combo-skills. They made the gameplay much easier and much more fun. It added a bit more flow to the combat and gave more weight for the choices: “Do I wanna piss this guy off, just so I can keep him helping me in the combat, even I hate this opinions on things?”
The combat also feels nice, even to a wuss like me who plays on easy: The sound effects add nice impact to it and it’s visually nice looking. One thing that annoyed me though was the characters constantly, I mean **constantly **complaining when their weapons didn’t do damage for reason to another. My favorite was when one of the characters said: “This weapon is like nipples on a man: Useless!”
|Combo skill in action|
I don’t want to spoil much, but I have to explain the story a little. There are two armies, Disfavored and Charlet Chorus working under a big dude Overlord. Of course those two armies are having their own lil’ fights and you have to be the middleman, listening their whining. I felt like I was babysitting two idiots who are leading big packs of idiots. It was great, since it really gave you either reason to really hate the two or like one of them. Ultimately you have to choose between the two and shit hits the fan: boom, civil war between the two armies.
At this point the story starts and you’ll be running around the area called as The Tiers doing oddjobs here and there. There’s lots of things to do, lots to see. On my first playthrough I missed a lot of stuff, so I’ll be definitely replaying this game at some point. One nice thing about the story is that there is a possibility to betray either one or both of the two armies and give a big middle finger to everything. I will definitely try that on my next playthrough.
|Tiny portion of the map of The Tiers, with not much areas unlocked yet|
During the story, you learn that you can control these weird towers called Spires. The story is heavily around them, so I don’t want to say much. In Pillars you had the stronghold of Caed Nua, the Spires are basically your stronghold in Tyranny, except you can have many of them. In Spires you can hire people and get them to do your bidding. To get a spire, you have to do some puzzles and maybe some dungeon delving. That was honestly one of my favorite parts of the game, but unfortunately there wasn’t much of it.
|Top of a Spire|
|Finding our way to unlock a Spire|
The enviroments are really nice looking. I spent some time just looking at the tiny details in walls and floors, looking at the pretty lights and so on. I have no idea how they’re done, I assume there’s been a lot of 3D modeling and then rendering them to images. The most realtime 3D things you see on your screen are any characters that are moving.
|One of my favorite places was the Burning Library, just because how it looked|
Then there are the characters. Most characters I liked, some I didn’t really get to know that well due to my decisions. I did manage to get most of them to like me and there was one character that I didn’t even meet, hinted by the ending of the game. Talking with characters is just like in Pillars: You got text, then links for dialogue and tooltips that tell you details.
|Having a chat|
I have to say one of my favorite characters was Tunon the Adjucator. He seems to be some sort of force of justice and when you’re in his court, it truly feels like you’re being judged by him. It felt refreshing, in most modern games you get away with lots of things but in Tyranny… Tunon is watching. Always.
|Tunon's Court, and Tunon overlooking at us|
Besides of normal conversation stuff, there’s also a thing called missives. It’s basically a mailbox and you get mail from some characters while your story goes on. You can reply to these missives in different ways and they either provide you more backstory or give you good advice. Or bad, if you make someone unhappy with your sloppy response. It works like the conversation system, except there’s more text.
One thing I hope to see in Pillars 2 is the reputation system Tyranny has. You have all the factions, characters, things, etc. in one big reputation list, and you can check how anyone or anything feels like about you. On top of that, reputation can give you skills and passives, so basically making some dude very angry can give you powers against his faction. It’s really cool system and I liked it a lot.
So in conclusion, I liked the game and it’s features. It was really fun to play, I enjoyed the story and the visuals, but I had constantly this nagging feeling of something missing: There wasn’t really sense of exploration in the game. Instead, you’re being railroaded by everything and even if you don’t want to be anyone’s lapdog, you kinda have to to progress in the story. It was a bit more.. Linear, than Pillars. That can be a good thing or bad thing, depending of the player. For me, it kind of diminished the sense of wonder and wanderlust. In Pillars, I was constantly exploring, reading everything, just absorbing the world and the information. In Tyranny I found myself sometimes just quickly reading the dialogue without any second thought and sometimes even pushing myself forward, instead of naturally going with the “flow.”
I can’t really explain it any better than that. It simply felt like something was lacking. Maybe it was because I wasn’t that interested in the world of Tyranny compared to Pillars of Eternity, or maybe the game didn’t really give me a chance to get interested. You are pretty much dropped into the world and you have to spend some time researching things yourself. Otherwise you will be very lost in the lore of Tyranny.
The ending was a bit underwhelming too. It just.. ended. Very unexpectedly. I was waiting for more than 13 hours of gameplay. Maybe I just rushed things, I’m not sure. I still enjoyed the ending, even it was very cliffhanger-y.
Since the game has New Game+, I will definitely try Tyranny again someday and see what other kind of choices I can make, and what the outcomes are.
I would recommend this game to anyone who likes RPG’s, especially if you enjoyed Pillars of Eternity. Just don’t expect similar world or story. Tyranny is very, very different, and that’s a good thing.