Monday, July 31, 2017

LSD is a hell of a drug

There is so much style and depth of story and image crammed into every square inch of Pyre that I can almost overlook that the game is equal parts graphic novel and uninspired NBA Jam reskin. That sounds much more harsh than I intend as I am really enjoying the graphic novel portion of the game. Every location, character, interaction and bit of lore is absolutely fascinating. Then I have to play the game and am always desperate for the more interactive portion to be over.

And no, this is not just because I do not play sports games. Imagine if basketball was three on three but only one person could move at a time. If you have the ball you have no protection and can be run the fuck over by anyone on defense at any time. Everyone has a different special abilities: some can fly, some can jump, some can sacrifice themselves in giant explosions that wipe out the opposing team. Sounds interesting so far? Too bad, it's not.

Speed based characters rule the day for both the player and the AI. Slower characters are at too large a disadvantage to be interesting and the AI could, if it were allowed, destroy the player at any time. I honestly believe that the only reason the player wins is because the AI allows them to, something like a meatbag mercy rule. It will bust on crazy tech, like beaning one of the player's characters in the head with the ball and therefore removing their 'aura' so they can be killed, at random times.

I have only lost one rite so far but that loss was terrible. I am afraid that there is more to come. But as I learned, most of the time it is not important who wins the rite, just to participate is enough.

The lore is deep here. So deep that I have stopped trying to read the 100+ page in game tome as pages are unlocked, opting to read it as a whole once the game is done. Everything in this world is based on tradition and belief, in doing things the way they have always been done. And when the Nightwings, the player's triumvirate, behind to try to new things the whole world, or at least the Downside, may come to an end.

It's heavy shit. There are choices to make that aren't easy, choices that would feel at home in (good) Telltale games. There is equipment to buy from a slug who lives on top of another, larger slug, though that equipment is less important after each member of the Nightwings is put through a trial by a 1000 year old spectre who lives in a crystal and given their own custom accessory.

Pyre is a fever dream of creativity, one that has invaded my sleeping hours, based not on what I am doing, but what I am reading and seeing.

I said on the podcast that it is sometimes necessary to indulge trusted developer's whims, that they should be allowed to take chances. I am not sure that Pyre is a worthy follow up to Bastion or Transistor but it is an experiment that I am happy to be a part of. It doesn't fit in any one genre, and I do not enjoy all it offers, but what is good is magical.

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