Pyre, Sports but better?
Pyre is a game made by Supergiant Games, The makers of Bastion, Transistor, and Hades. Its a 3v3 battle where the player tries to get the orb into the opposing flame while defending your own. It’s a very unique game and it deserves more attention.
What is Pyre?
Unlike most sports games, Pyre functions similarly to Grifball from Halo. Where two teams try to eliminate the other and put the orb into the enemy goal. This makes it a team based combat sports game and is incredibly unique. You choose three characters from an unique cast to take part in each battle in the goal of escaping your punishment. Banished to this prison for the crime of reading, being one of the very few educated not in a position of power. And thus your punishment is one of the highest order. Spending the rest of your days in the harsh sands, damp swamps, and freezing mountains. All of these teeming with people looking to take you and your allies down.
After being banished, you’re picked up by a group of three who need someone who can read so they can participate in these games. The winner of such games are given passage to the surface again and amnesty from their crimes. The end goal of getting enough people outside that you can revolt against the people in power above. Since people who return from the depths are hailed as heroes, the common folk will listen to them, so who you free is vital. But remember, the characters in Pyre have their own goals. They have wills of their own and may ask you to throw the match so their family member who was also banished could go free. And who you free will affect the others, some characters refusing to speak to you after feeling betrayed. And you may not be able to save everyone.
Getting to know your allies
But there’s more than just competition and tough decisions. Over the time of traveling you will get to know and talk to your allies. Learning who they were, how this place morphed their body, or if you’re lucky the crime they committed. But you have to earn their trust for these, and your decisions impact your relationships. Will you listen to Jodariel when she asks you to free the Hedwyn first? Or will you try and free Rukey so he can see his wife and child? As the only one who can read and preform the rites, you will be the neutral party to decide who among them will be the next out. But it’s not all allies and fighting. There is an equally interesting cast of competitors in Pyre. Each one fighting for freedom for themselves and their allies, and you are in their way.
Most people want out of this prison, to return to their lives, but not everyone has something to return to. Some people prefer this place due to the freedoms it offers. Some never knew true freedom in the first place. You alone decide the fate of the banished, and thus multiple playthroughs are needed to see everything.
The opponents are just as varied and interesting as your crew, and with their own goals too. Like Ignarius who was someone who simply messed with the wrong person. Or Dalbert, an old man who wanted to preserve his heritage and maintain their traditions, but this was viewed as heresy and he was banished with his son. Will you throw the match so his son may go free? But if you do will you be able to actually overthrow the people above? Who will be losing their one shot at freedom? While the opponents are not all innocent, do they deserve the eternal punishment? And once again its up to your skills, strategies, and decisions who goes free. While these people your opponents in Pyre’s rites, are they really your enemies?
Pyre is one of the single best sport games I’ve ever played. And just like every supergiant game it shines especially in art style and music. Perfectly capturing every tough fight, close call, and important moment. The string instruments and solo vocals in “Vagrant Song” capture the solemn feeling of being trapped in such a place. Meanwhile the percussion and quick string instruments in the song “Night Howlers” captures the tense feeling of the time when it’s played.
The best part of the game has to be the interactions between you and the characters. Pyre is very good at building on your decisions. Every interaction you have ripples across, making everyone act differently, including opponents. Like if you beat an enemy team in the finals of your first run, that team will be thrown off their game and lose matches against other teams more often on your second run. Meaning in the finals you likely wont see them again this time until they regain confidence. All of this together makes Pyre a must play game in my book, and I hope fans of Hades, Transistor, and Bastion, also give this a try.