Obsidian Entertainment strikes again with their new roleplaying masterpiece, Tyranny! Having just finished the game moments ago, I’m struggling to write this review because I’m already planning my next playthrough. If you’ve had the pleasure of playing Pillars of Eternity (Obsidian’s previous release with Paradox Interactive), the gameplay and controls will be mostly recognizable from the start. The player fills the shoes of a Fatebinder; an agent of a god-like ruler, sent forth to dispense order amongst the newly conquered realms. There are various local and invading factions fighting for dominance and it is up to you to settle disputes and forge alliances whenever you see fit.
PC, OS X, Linux
November 10, 2016
The player’s journey begins at character creation. I was pleased that they offered plenty of appearance options allowing you to alter gender, skin tone, hairstyle (unfortunately no dreadlocks!), body type, and even a small selection of cool tribal like tattoos. A unique feature in Tyranny’s character creation system are the background options. This will define how your life began and how you came to be drafted into the ranks of Kyros’ forces. The background you choose with grant you some unique interactions during your travels. I choose the life of a pit fighter and got a few brutal choices later on like waving the recently severed arm of a warrior I had just defeated in front of his former gang to intimidate them. There are also different classes to choose from in the beginning, but that doesn’t limit the player characters ability to branch out later and acquire skill from other classes if they wish. I played as an unarmed fist fighter on my first run and had no problems beating the game, so feel free to experiment with the different primary and secondary options.
On the final tab of character creation, a feature called Conquest allows you even further control of your characters past. This option involves a choose-you-own-adventure style board game that lets you decide your role in the events that took place during the invasion of the tiers. The player will be presented choices (represented by tabletop game pieces) and must decide which of the two main invading armies to support, or attempt to keep the peace between the two rival conquerors. There are few decisions without repercussions, and neither side is really “good” (although one side is much more chaotic and unpredictable!). The locations you choose will also have an effect because some get blocked by choosing others. This alone gave me plenty of reasons to replay this game and the epic journey hadn’t even begun!
Combat in Tyranny is very similar to Pillars of Eternity, but still reminiscent of classics like Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale. Expect your typical swords, shields, bows, and magic. I refrained from them all and
fisted punched my way through the whole game. After experimenting with different companions’ gear and moves, I’d wager all equipment choices should be equally viable. I had slight reservations about being unarmed after finding a bunch of rare artifact weapons, but beating down armored foes with just my hands and feet was still totally worth it. Magic also deserves an honorable mention. Tyranny offers an interesting spell customization system mixing powers and effects into powerful spells to maim, incinerate, and electrocute your enemies with.
Another unique feature that immediately stands out are combo moves. Some involve amplifying the powers of your teammates or being hurled into the air to deliver devastating effects on surrounding foes. These moves are unlocked using a reputation system where you accrue fear and loyalty points depending on how you interact with your followers and whether or not they approve of your methods. I loved this system because even followers who didn’t like me were far too afraid to ever betray my will. These combos are restricted to either fear or loyalty, but don’t worry; companions can be both loyal AND fearful of their new leader. Each companion also has their own alliances and goals that often will conflict with the motives of other companions. All of the companions are very well voiced and have their own neat backstories to uncover as you travel and fight together.
The thing about Tyranny that I enjoyed and appreciated more than the rest was the weight of your decisions. Conquest mode and the decisions you make actually make a difference. Even the smaller choices you make will have an impact on the way the story plays out. Each faction is surprisingly fleshed out and memorable. Bringing along different companions along to certain areas can also affect interactions and dialogue options. The player will usually have the chance to betray most alliances they make incase they have a change of heart. The player will also notice NPCs commenting on events that took place in Conquest mode. Factions, like companions, have their own reputation and wrath meters which display how much each faction reveres or despises the player (these reputations will also unlock additional powers as they progress).
Final Judgment: 96/100
Tyranny, in my opinion, was an amazing success and featured everything I love about classic RPGs. There were a few issues I had while playing such as the game lagging a bit in a few areas or during battles, or the cursor disappearing at unfortunate times (first encountered during one of the final bosses). I’m sure most of these issues will disappear after a few patches are released. Bethesda did an awesome job setting the stage for expansions or a sequel which I’m seriously looking forward to. The lore was unique and mysterious. The setting was fantastic and I really felt immersed at all times. I know for certain that I’ll play this game a few more times to see the different outcomes. I encourage all classic RPG fans, especially those who enjoyed Pillars of Eternity, to give this game a shot. The more I write about it, I begin to realize that this has been one of my favorite video game experiences yet. That being said, it won’t appeal everyone but I still encourage players who are new to these types of games to experience what Tyranny has to offer.
- Epic adventure!
- Choice matter (really! I swear)
- Excellent character customization
- Great skill progression
- Good voice acting
- Challenging combat encounters
- Superb setting
- Multiple factions to join or destroy
- Acquire and employ god-like powers
- Few bugs
- Some companion interactions seemed unfinished
- Occasional performance lag
- No dreadlocks in character creation!?