The battle for good and evil rages on, and you are caught in the crossfire. Tyranny is an isometric RPG that focuses on decision-based gameplay in order to drive its narrative. You are a Fatebinder – judge, jury, and executioner for a handful of malevolent personalities. Your actions can inspire humanity just as well as they can induce terror, and the consequences of your position’s potential power will mark your trail.
The freedom of choice is a motif that consistently reoccurs during your exploration of Tyranny‘s world. Strategy will need to be employed in conversation as well as on the battlefield, and often simultaneously. Certain speech options will require you to pass a skill check in order to succeed and can affect upcoming battles. If presented with dialogue before a battle, you may encounter a few choice responses that rely upon various types of skills. A successful roll for a charismatic skill may apply a status effect on your opponents before the fight even begins, while other skills could cause one or two enemies to run away in fear.
Tyranny often combines its battle mechanics with its dialogue and plays with the traditional ideas of alignment. Favor and Wrath work together to create a mechanic that replaces the typical karma system, blurring the lines of good and evil as the game leaves nothing but the grey area. Favor will be gained if your actions are respected by a faction; simultaneously, Wrath will be gained from others who disapprove. This mechanic shows that your decisions aren’t inherently good or bad – it’s how people perceive them.
As far as replay value goes, Tyranny is chock full of it. The story itself promotes multiple playthroughs as only so much time is allotted in-game. Overlord Kyros is threatening the use of an Edict (essentially a magical WMD) on the land, forcing players to act quickly before the situation becomes irreparable. What you are able to accomplish within this timeframe and the decisions you make in one playthrough can change dramatically from the last. Multiple, mostly militaristic factions are made available to the player throughout the game, all of them offering a variety of narrative outcomes based on your decisions. From the time I had with Tyranny at E3, I was able to play one of three characters alongside one of three factions. I chose an Archer that was allied with the Rebels, a group I gravitate towards in these situations.
One of the first things that popped out was the UI. All the information you would ever need to play is conveniently made available with a simple hover and/or click of a button, from ability tooltips and usage to individual enemy status effects and stats. Even the game’s dialogue highlights specific keywords that, when hovered over, will provide a quick summary of a town or group of people that you may have forgotten about. Further in-game information is made available in the game’s menus, but Tyranny does a fantastic job at providing players with the information they need without removing them from the experience with a litany of menus.
Battling is its own beast. Players can hit spacebar to pause the fight at anytime, allowing them to plot out their course of action. By using my archer’s armor piercing ability in conjunction with proper positioning, I was able to take out multiple enemies with ease. Explosive arrows do well against larger groups without armor, and can prevent you from getting overrun later in the fight. Abilities such as these level up with use, so finding the right combinations of ability usage can eventually be bolstered through repeated use of your cycled skills.
Tyranny provides a talent tree system that offers an extensive amount of customization, as well, reiterating its motif of free choice. Multiple companions will eventually join you on your journey, each one with their own set of skills and potential for growth. In addition to tailoring the main character in accordance to your desires, the game’s customization bleeds into the very construction of your party. At nearly any point during the demo, I could have turned on the Rebels and metaphorically backstabbed them, altering the entire course of the impending story line. Whether you prefer to fly solo or procure a sentimental loyalty with a specific faction, Tyranny has a way to let you do you. Players are definitely not restricted at any point in this game.
Taking that first step out of Paradox Interactive’s E3 booth was difficult. Tasting the game for a solid fifteen minutes left me wanting so much more, and I couldn’t help but wish I had more time to get invested in the story of Tyranny. But I did walk away with an incredible anticipation for this game’s release.
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