Pyre Mini-review

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It’s probably best to start this off by explaining that I make a serious attempt to finish every game I start, but always give myself the option of quitting anything purchased with my own money (games I’ve received a key for naturally get a bit more effort because of the expectations behind them, but even they aren’t entirely immune). That this is an option I’ve only exercised a small handful of times out of the 300+ reviews up on this site speaks to the grating nature of the few left unfinished, and Pyre definitely deserves its place in that ignominious pile; while other critics may drool over this game for their own subjective reasons, my experience with it is one of constant irritation over its confused design. Every potential positive is overwhelmed by an accompanying negative, such as how the more elaborate and explained story compared to previous games ends up wasting a ton of time with meaningless trash-tier conversations that accomplish nothing. There are supposedly multiple endings and story branches, and yet the gameplay loop that gets you there is painfully simple and underwhelming, the kind of thing that became almost unbearably repetitive even in the few hours I spent with the game. The combat “rites” that play out like an e-sport are a lot like a short game of NBA Jam, but rules and limitations are sprung on you in the middle of games, and story happenings greatly limit your agency as far as who you choose to use and how their stats end up being impacted by the arbitrary decision of which area to travel through. Pyre is a (Super)giant waste of time, energy, and money featuring gameplay so irrevocably interwoven into trends of its time that history is unlikely to treat it as kindly as Bastion and Transistor.

There’s lots of fluff in the writing

Over and over again there were moments built up to be serious, only for the game to reveal that it was actually kidding about all of that and instead force you to watch to a pointless exchange that drags on for no obvious reason. It’s an annoying waste of time having a conversation build up to something serious and turn out to actually be about mustaches, and since most of the game consists of lots of words that don’t say very much, the whole thing feels padded out. In another case, the story builds up the possibility that a companion has died, only for him to be perfectly fine seconds later and just a little under the weather after some seasickness. Supergiant’s previous games were largely narrated, with bits of lore to be found throughout, and this was a really natural way of communicating things, but Pyre is so devoted to overwhelming you with text of no consequence that it feels like the game is constantly spinning its wheels to pad out its playtime.

Rites are visually busy and mostly consist of running around enemies for easy wins.

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