released on Jul 25, 2017

A party-based RPG/visual novel/sports game hybrid wherein the player, dubbed the Reader for their literacy by the group of scavengers who discovers them, is sent in exile to a lawless wasteland called the Downside and has to lead their ever-growing party of misfits to locations wherein many similar parties compete in Rites in order to attain freedom and be absolved of their crimes.

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Honestly, I didn't expect to like this game, given that it was mostly a point-and-click. I bought it exclusively because it was made by Supergiant Games. The soccer mini-game sections were cool, and the story made it interesting, though not enough to warrant a second or third playthrough to find out different endings or side stories.

Extremely good narrative and story interwoven by meaningful gameplay choices. It's weird that the gameplay they chose is fantasy basketball, but it works well enough.

pyre is such a beautiful, melodic, gem of a story that i wish i could give five stars if the combat wasn't so frustrating. something about it fought me throughout all 20 hours and never really felt intuitive.

disclaimer out of the way, i have to remark on how good everything else is. the story is phenomenal. the characters are memorable and heartbreaking. the music is possibly my favorite of all supergiant's repertoire. the art style is, as per, absolutely breathtaking and stunned me every five seconds. and the booming, creepy, impressive voice of the narrator haunts and mocks your attempts to gain freedom. but singling out kasavin, zee, korb, and cunningham feels like a disservice because the entire team was clearly firing on all cylinders and working in complete unison; it's so rare when you get to play a game that does that.

but okay, the combat. i wasn't expecting this to be sports, that's fine, but something about controlling three characters at once, each with their unique abilities, just never fully clicked for me. no matter my difficulty, some enemies felt mindlessly simple but others felt totally unforgiving. no amount of roster-shuffling can really account for every enemy weakness so you just have to accept eating dirt on a few difficulties. when your enemy is a team of harpies who can just fly straight over you across the entire field, and also when they CHEAT too? it doesn't feel good.

in some ways, though, that works out fine, because pyre incorporates your lost matches into the narrative, and it tells you from the beginning this is not going to have a totally "happy" ending. there are not enough lifeboats, you cannot free everyone from banishment, so who do you pick? who deserves freedom, but also, who will help your efforts on the other side the most? and knowing you cannot leave yourself... who do you secretly want to stay with you, either for skills or company? they embrace these hard questions and i really wrestled with my roster emotionally near the end of the game.

(the only other negative i have is that i should've been able to romance the tree-man cause holy fuck the reader's chemistry with him is off the charts)

So glad I finally played this game. I think it'd easily be Supergiant's best, if Hades didn't exist. What a weird, fascinating blend of Sports and Visual Novel.

the people who actually call this a visual novel need to play the most basic-ass, kinetic, nvl format visual novel for tricking me into thinking this was going to be a visual novel and not fantasy basketballsoccersport. i need to replay this sometime as i was playing with a trackpad and i realized later in life that's really not the optimal way to play anything. i want the women of this game to kill me also.