P is for Pyre

Banished to a mystical purgatory known as The Downside for unknown transgressions, you are found by other outcasts and tasked with leading your fellow denizens out by means of a ritual known as The Rites. Purgatory has never looked so pretty.

Pyre, the new game from Supergiant Games, is clearly a relative of their previous games Bastion and Transistor. However, if those two games were siblings, with their action RPG like battle mechanics and text-lite narrative, Pyre is more like a second cousin. Visually and acoustically, all three are very similar, which is a very good thing, if you ask me. Mechanically, Pyre is more like a mystical sports game with a much deeper, more defined story.

The Rites, as they are known, are a set of three-on-three arena battles where your team needs to douse the titular Pyre of your opponents by either throwing or running a glowing orb into it. Each character has an aura that they can cast to banish a member of the other team for a short time. Matches are fast paced, back and forth affairs that feel a bit like NBA Jam, but only one of your characters can move at a time.

Another cool mechanical decision that the developers made is that you can’t lose the game. You can be defeated in a Rite, but defeat doesn’t end your game. There’s no game over screen, there’s no need to retry the match, your story just continues. Your characters can even get an extra boost of experience after a loss. I thought this was super interesting and an awesome way to reflect the growth that can come through real life trials, even if you don’t come out on top.

My one complaint about Pyre is that you really can only control your characters in the arena of the Rites. There are branching choices in navigating through the Downside, but you’re just selecting dialog boxes and watching your wagon. Seeing all of these gorgeous environments just made me want to explore them. All in all, Pyre is a great game. If you’ve played and enjoyed either of Supergiant’s other games (or even if you haven’t), definitely pick this one up and give it a go. Until next time, happy trails!

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