January 26, 2023Pyre Review 2023 (Is It Worth Playing?)

From the developers of Bastion, Supergiant has been releasing fantastic games one after the other. Bastion was one of Supergiant’s successful games and has shaken the gaming industry to its core for its fantastic gameplay and story. Some have said that Bastion is the “perfect” game and a game that every gamer should try at least once in their lives. But we’re not here to talk about Bastion. Today, we’re going to review another of Supergiants’ famous games, Pyre. So, continue reading our Pyre review if you want to know more!

Pyre Review

Pyre is one of Supergiant’s unique games that mashes two wonderful genres, RPGs and sports. The game Pyre is one of the times you can say that video games are works of art because playing Pyre is like playing a visual novel. It is jam-packed with visually appealing graphics, a majestic soundtrack, and a storyline that’ll be imprinted on your mind for years to come.

We might be praising the game a little too much, but it’s definitely worth praising! So, enough of that! Let’s go into deeper detail about the game below and see whether or not it’s still worth playing in 2023.

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Release Date: July 26, 2017
Developer/Publisher: Supergiant games/Supergiant games
Genre: Action, Role-Playing, Sports, Simulation Game
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS, Mac operating systems
Metacritic Score: 82%
Steam Review: Very Positive
  • Eurogamer.net: Essential
  • The Game Awards: Nominee
  • Dice: 21st Annual Awards
  • RPGFan (Game of the Year 2017): Best Unconventional or Hybrid RPG

In this hybrid RPG-sports game, Pyre, you’re set to take on the role of the Reader, who is an unseen character who goes on to the Downside to form a team of criminals to battle in “The Trials.” The Trials are a battle where criminals are given a chance to fight their way up to freedom and are given a second chance of living a normal life above the Downside. As the Reader, you are plunged into the middle of everything that goes on around the game, Pyre.

The Celestial Orb

The Rites are the only means of escape for exiles: win one of the sporadic championship games known as Liberation Rites, and you’ll be liberated and completely absolved of all your crimes. Failure will condemn you to eternal exile.

In the game, you play a 3v3 game in order for the criminals to get freedom. Throughout the Liberation Rites, your primary objective is to keep hold of an orb while running, dodging, and jumping in the direction of your opponent’s goal, or “pyre,” at the other end of the court. You’ll be able to get the celestial orb that spawns in the middle of the court and carry, toss, or hurl it to the opposing team’s pyre to extinguish its flame. But don’t get too cocky because the opposing team members can easily steal that orb and extinguish your pyre. Each time the celestial orb touches one of your pyres, the pyre slowly loses its flame. You must extinguish your opponent’s pyre in order to successfully win the game. And if you don’t, then you lose another chance at freedom.

Take note that during the game, you can only control one character at a time. This means you have to be strategic in the ways you play your one character and how you will use the remaining two characters to actively protect your pyre from the opposing team. You will be constantly switching between your triumvirate to fight for a spot on the field or to make use of the distinctive offensive and defensive strategies offered by the nine classes.

The Stakes of the Game

Even if Pyre’s thrilling battles are reason enough to play it, what propels it to its reputation is the way it uses the intensity of competition to create an engrossing tale. The characters you play are criminals with deep backstories that the game talks about in detail and who are ultimately vying for the price of freedom—a second chance at living a normal life above the Downside.

But if these Rites are lost, the chance for the freedom they’re aiming for is gone. This game concept is such a heartbreaking story that even if you really want your teammate to ascend, the chance of it happening is gone. So winning the Liberation Rites is critical not only for you but also for the criminals you’re playing.

The Deeper Battle

Aside from winning the Liberation Rites for the chance at freedom, the bigger battle is to overthrow the Commonwealth—the people who choose who controls the Downside. So, the only way your team’s revolutionary leader’s plans to topple the corrupt Commonwealth will succeed is if you successfully set free enough members of your party to continue the battle at the campaign’s climax.

The Characters’ Deeper Story

The results of your choices wouldn’t matter nearly as much if it weren’t for Pyre’s beautifully written characters. The Nightwings’ ranks grow as you add new members along the journey, each of whom brings a unique set of abilities to the Rites and a unique approach to the storyline. Each exile you meet has a distinctive past and charisma, and the nine who join your cause arouse strong feelings in both you and them. When a rite is successful and you have helped a close friend gain freedom, you get a sense of relief that you were able to help them.

Your competitors in the Rites, too, also have a past, relationships, and motivations—it’s not just the Nightwings. While you should never stop trying to win for the sake of your companions, you will frequently feel very torn about defeating them because many of the opposing team are also decent individuals in their own right and certainly deserving of freedom as the Nightwings.

Regardless of the outcome, your quest goes on. There are simply horrible outcomes if you accumulate enough losses. Despite the outcome of the rites, your members develop skills and get to pick from a certain number of special abilities as they advance in level. One of the ways Pyre also elevates your gaming experience and makes it unique to you is through its character development and customization.

The Visual Tale

One of the reasons why Pyre is so well known is how visually appealing the game is. The graphical designs do not fail to amaze me.

From the different characters’ creative and expressive designs to each of the Liberation Rites’ arenas, each has a distinct personality and a variety of landscapes that must have been taken into consideration when formulating a strategy.

Moreover, the various fantastical, dreamlike settings you’ll see in The Downside appear to have been taken from a kid’s book and then slightly altered so that they’re a little darker, a little weirder, and a little more menacing to fit the game’s overall theme.

The Soundtrack of the Season

Aside from the visual storytelling and amazing gameplay, the vocal and instrumental music accompaniment compositions that Supergiant is renowned for are precisely what Pyre is known for.

In comparison to the soundtracks of Bastion and Transistors, every track in the game feels even more seamlessly integrated into the game, with each enemy team having its own distinct style but a consistent overall tone. One team can have aggressive guitar riffs, while the other team can have a twangy, ambitious tone, and another with a lore-y, gorey vibe. But despite the varying tones, vibes, and moods of the soundtrack, Pyre is able to conjure all of them into a beautifully-made soundtrack that brings everything together—ensuring that each soundtrack complements the other.

The Storytelling

Pyre tackles a lot of mature themes despite its fun and tactical gameplay. It tackles deep topics like freedom, the corrupt ways of the Commonwealth, and, of course, the oppressed. Moreover, the struggle for justice and a promising opportunity for all is represented in this tale of struggle and rebellion.

The game’s story revolves around the lives, experiences, and past and current actions of the characters you’re playing. This gives the game a captivating and unique style of writing that makes you incredibly invested in the lives of the characters and how they will be able to live through their struggles to get freedom.

The rites seem increasingly meaningful because you begin to care about these characters so much, and the choices you must make as the game moves closer to its end become more challenging. At some point, you have to decide precisely whose freedom you’re fighting for and who you believe deserves it more, which became a struggle for me because who am I to choose who deserves freedom more? But because that’s part of the game, you inevitably have to choose which of them deserves it more. So, even if you’re able to give freedom to those who deserve it, those who are left behind will always make it heartbreaking.

Final Verdict

Overall, Pyre shows the unique connections you form with the characters and a sense of belonging to the Nightwings, who have fought and striven for their freedom. Pyre is an adventure that shines in every aspect of its development, from the visuals to the soundtrack to the storyline to the gameplay. I experienced a wide range of emotions on this incredible voyage. Pyre certainly showed substantial attention and talent in its creation, fusing language, sound, and visuals with a more solid approach than most games can aspire for in a hybrid RPG.

So, overall, Pyre is still worth playing in 2023, especially if you’re really into beautiful RPG graphics with sports elements imbued into the game.

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