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[Review] Tyranny: Evil Done Right

Tyranny: Evil Done Right

  1. Keneth
    Ever wonder what it's like to play the bad guy without your only option being senseless slaughter of everything in sight? If you're anything like me, you've been waiting for a game that allows you to be evil and not be a madman for a long time. Well, friend, wait no longer. Tyranny casts you into the role of a young Fatebinder, the executor of Kyros's law who rules the continent with an iron fist, where you are tasked with bringing law and peace to the Tiers, a region of the continent intent on resisting the rule of the Overlord. And if you thought evil only came in one flavor, you're in for a pleasant surprise.

    I'll split this review into sections and assign each of them a score based on my personal experience. The scores are arbitrary, but they adhere to the original 10-point scale and not the modern 10-point scale.

    Story

    General Story and Content

    The game held my undivided attention and interest all the way from the starting plot hook to the final Edict, which is a feat in and of itself. The main story line is well thought out, with a rich world to support it, and is full of interesting characters that you meet along the way. It's got several major story branches, each with its own set of quests and side quests, and allows you to follow your own path without being railroaded too much. It would have been nice for the world to be more open, but I didn't find it too restricting. The ending was also a bit too open-ended for my liking. It's clear they were expecting to follow up with a sequel and I sincerely hope that's still on their agenda.

    Score: 9/10

    Replay Value

    Since the game is all about making tough, meaningful choices and forging alliances, you really have to play it more than once to get the full experience. In fact, if you wanted to see everything there is to see, you'd have to play it through about 4 or 5 times. With each run taking upward of 20 hours on average, that can be a little daunting, but it does mean more bang for your buck in the long run.

    Score: 9/10

    Companions

    The companions are decent. Although none of them might stay with you for years to come, all of them are likeable in one way or another, from the aging sage to the angsty teenage girl. They have rich, varied backgrounds and strong opinions and the game doesn't punish you for taking them along. In fact, I would have liked to take more of them with me, but since one needs to play the game multiple times to fully experience it anyway, it was probably designed this way intentionally. One thing that bothered me slightly is that although you can build a companion's loyalty and/or fear, it's fairly easy to exhaust all of their conversation options over the course of one playthrough. Doesn't really leave you with much for subsequent runs.

    Score: 7/10

    Story Score: 8.3/10

    Gameplay

    General Mechanics

    Since the game is based on the same engine as Pillars of Eternity, it shares many of its features that have been improved and expanded on. You build reputations with different factions and characters in the game (and even artifacts), most of which reward you with special abilities that become available to you once you've reached a high enough reputation. Certain areas in the game feature skill challenges (like climbing up a ledge or unlocking a chest). The conversations are standard, heavily-branching dialogue trees, that are affected by the protagonist's skills, reputations, companions, etc., with a reasonable amount of voice-over.

    The characters feature a similar 6-stat spread that we're used from Pillars as well as older RPGs. The stats affect the characters' skills as well as give passive numeric bonuses. Unlike most role playing games, you don't choose a class at the beginning. When you start the game, you are presented some basic choices to get you on your way, but beyond that, it all comes down to your skills, that you increase with use, and trait choices, that are selected at level up.

    Score: 9/10

    Combat

    Combat is not exceedingly tactical, especially as you near the end of the game. Even on Path of the Damned difficulty, party members quickly outpace the enemies in terms of power if you know what you're doing. That said, combat features some really fun elements, such as cooperative actions, which allow your protagonist and each of the companions to perform joined actions with devastating effects. You also get to "craft" your own spells in a words-of-power kind of system, where you throw together different spell schools and forms to create powers with wildly different effects, limited only by a character's Lore skill and the number of spells slots they possess at any given time. Although the fights might not be quite as challenging as one would hope (not that obliterating your enemies isn't enjoyable), the game supports many different play styles, all of whom are decently balanced and viable on any difficulty level.

    Score: 8/10

    Stronghold

    As with Pillars, you gain a "stronghold" fairly early on in the game. It features different upgrades and hirelings that act as merchants, skill trainers, or who simply produce free stuff for you. Overall, it seems like the developers took some of the lessons from Pillars of Eternity to heart (i.e. no random attacks in the middle of your keep when you're out doing shit), but I feel like there is still lots of room for improvement. We'll see how they do in PoE2.

    Score: 7/10

    Gameplay Score: 8/10

    Art

    There's really not all that much to say about the art. The painted backgrounds are beautiful, the animations have a good feel to them (even if they are slightly awkward at times), and the music is seamless and enjoyable. Obviously, everyone's gonna have different opinions about the artistic value, especially for a piece like this, but it's an absolutely gorgeous game with a good atmosphere, despite the sometimes-depressing wastelands that you are forced to crawl through.

    Art Score: 9/10

    Conclusion

    Seems like Tyranny is definitely one of those rare gems that is fated to be forgotten by all but a cult following. Despite it being a very fun and high-quality game, it doesn't seem to be doing that well in stores. Whether that's a marketing issue or it's simply the fact that among the already-niche player base, those who enjoy being truly evil are rare, is anyone's guess. But in spite of how the game may be doing on the market, it's certainly a very worthy addition to any role player's collection, and it's a must-have for those of us who are tired of the chewed-up heroic monomyth.

    Total Score: 8.4/10

    I hope that gives you a little better idea of what to expect. Now go play it. Graven Ashe protects.
    Taluntain likes this.
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