After enthralling us with two isometric action-RPGs, developer Supergiant Games is trying something brand-new.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Supergiant Games’ first two productions, Bastion and Transistor. Both were phenomenal, atmospheric action-RPGS, with a clear focus on world-building. It was unclear what ground the successful indie team would tread next, but the world expected it to be great. Enter Pyre, Supergiant’s latest creation.
While Pyre carries the tradition of intricate storytelling, it deviates from your standard action game. Instead, the title is a sort of “fantasy sport” where two teams of three characters take part in a “Rite.” Each team aims for the same goal: carry a Celestial Orb into the enemy team’s Pyre, and whittle its health from 100 to 0.
Pyre is deeper than the surface level football-esque pitch. One player controls all three characters on their team by passing the Orb between members. Each character has an “Aura,” or a shimmering circle that encompasses their being. This Aura can be cast at enemies to dispose of them for a short time, and also acts as a handy shield.
But, Auras disappear when a character holds the Orb. Every possible member for a team has a different sized Aura. They also bolster varying stats and skills to help them out in their defenseless, Orb-carrying state. One possible accomplice is a harpie that can soar above the field, fluttering the Orb over the foe’s head. Another is a dog-like creature that can dart between enemies. Another still is a slow, hulking brute, with a wide Aura diameter. It’s up to you to scout your opponents, and choose your team wisely.
Supergiant has outdone itself; the lore is rich, the characters are lovable, and the art style is brilliant.
Pyre contains a lot of mechanics, but after a few matches, everything clicks. Before you know it, you’ll be passing your Orb between your various members like a pro. With extra practice, you’ll set traps for your enemies with your positioning. You’ll dodge Aura casts with a deft click of a button, and fling yours right back. You’ll dart around obstacles, and plunge into the billowing Pyre before you. It feels like an esport, in the most exhilarating way.
Sadly, there’s no online mode found here. Pyre sports a fun local multiplayer option, but nothing allows for long-distance play. This is disheartening, as watching a competitive Pyre championship would be a riot. It’s unavoidable though, as Supergiant is a small team of 12. Alas, the couch play must suffice.
What Pyre lacks in online capabilities, it makes up for in its singleplayer campaign. Matches against AI hide betwixt the pages of a luscious visual novel. All teams house Exiles, simple criminals looking to find their way back home. Supergiant has outdone itself; the lore is rich, the characters are lovable, and the art style is brilliant. Yet it’s hard to ignore that you’ll be playing against bots over and over again, which can limit the excitement a bit.
Pyre’s story mode alone justifies a play, and local multiplayer is an added treat. The competitive, sporty play style is fine-tuned to absolute. perfection. The plethora of team compositions allow each match to feel fresh and unique. If you’re itching for head-to-head online matches or a campaign mode with heavy variation, look elsewhere. But if you want deep gameplay with a wonderful story, the beautiful Pyre may set your heart ablaze.
• Developer Supergiant Games • Publisher Supergiant Games • Genre Action RPG, Sports • Platform PC, PS4 • Price $19.99/£15.99 • Origin United States • Release July 25, 2017