It didn’t take long for me to realize that Tyranny is one of those games: the type of game that’s so deep an experience that I will lose myself in it. In Tyranny, you are the bad guys, the evil folk, and it is so much fun to be on the other side. It’s an approach not frequently used in gaming. Kyros is this world’s fearsome, godlike being, responsible for the current state of the world. You play as one of his many followers, and during your character creation you are given the decision of which war faction you align with. Your character is given an Edict, a warning of a major event that will not go well for a great many people. Your goal, then, is not to save the world, but to do your masters bidding in the days before He (She? It?) has decided to wreak unholy chaos upon the land.
There is so much lore within this game, it overwhelmed me at first. I felt like there would be a test later on, and I had to remember all the names of factions, events, and locations. Luckily for the player, there are tool tips for all the important bits; you’ll be a Tyranny scholar in no time at all. Once you untangle the lore of Tyranny, new complications come between battles. If you’ve played any of the Bethesda Studios games (Fallout 3/4, Skyrim) or the Mass Effect series, you will know your way around a dialogue tree. In Tyranny, the responses you choose will have big consequences for you. You can be rewarded with bonuses like new attacks when you build a good reputation with a faction or character. You might have to make a lot of people hate you along the way; that’s how it is, living under the rule of an evil god.
There is a lot to read, but a lot of lines are voiced. There is a stray voice here and there that sounds out of place, but many of the characters were well cast. My favorite character is Verse, who is your first party member. This is an M rated game, so Verse tends to cleverly use harsh language. Tyranny is basically one big diss track. Kyros’ factions bicker like children- like blood-soaked, wicked children. People will constantly tell your character how much they hate you. There were times where I wanted to have mercy, where I wanted to play nice, and characters tend to hate that. This isn’t peace time, fool! These interactions with the natives of Kyros’ domain are so fun that I barely care about what my next battle is going to be. I just want to keep angering people, gaining favor with the rest, and upping my loyalty to my party.
Backtracking to the dialogue: I have not looked to see if there’s truth in my belief, but I’m guessing that I can win over armies who oppose Kyros. Choice weighs heavily in Tyranny, and there will be great replay value for people who want to play it less villainous, or completely ruthless next time around. I believe I have lost an optional party member because of a previous decision, and that decision is still sticking with me.
On the characters front, I am surprised at how many female NPCs are part of the narrative. It feels like a 50/50 split, at least. I tend to create female characters, because there used to be so few women or girls in games. Tyranny‘s not concerned only with male energy. Women can kill and be killed, curse, slaughter and pillage all the same. I don’t play many games, so Tyranny is a milestone for me in terms of gender distribution. The times are a’ changing, and it’s for the best.
I haven’t talked about gameplay much, and that’s because it’s the least interesting detail to focus on, for me. No, there’s nothing wrong with the gameplay. It reminds me of Dragon Age Origins, which gave you the option of pausing the action, so you could give your fighters commands, and strategize a bit. Pausing in Dragon Age felt unnecessary to me, but in Tyranny it felt like there was no better way to play. In fact, the menu settings have a section for auto pause actions. I decided to use auto pause after nearly being destroyed in an early battle. The action is a little fast for me. If this was an action RPG, I could handle the pacing of the action better. Tyranny feels more like a turn-based game than an action game. It is seen from a top down, isometric view, so you can’t manage several characters at once while enemies are beating you down without mercy. Combat in Tyranny, just like the lore, is easy to get the hang of after a bit, and it’s fun to chop these poor idiots into little bits.
Tyranny is an RPG with fantasy aesthetics and Grand Theft Auto ethics. Tyranny is concerned with who you can curry favor with, who you can screw over, and what spoils you can amass. If you have any fantasies built up in your head from watching A Game of Thrones, you should unleash your dark desires in Tyranny.
Tyranny retails on Steam for £34.99 ($44.99) and is available on Mac, PC, and Linux.
Reviewer: Vichus Smith