Note: This review is going to talk heavily about the story, including the ending, of Tyranny, so if you don’t want any of it spoiled, best to skip this post.
I’ve beaten Tyranny once, in about 30 hours, and I loved it. Absolutely loved it. I basically sprinted the final 10 hours or so because it was so good (helped that I was on vacation). It has it’s flaws (more on those later), but none of the flaws hurt the overall enjoyment much for me, and what Tyranny does well, it does so better than most games.
Let’s get the basics out of the way. The graphics are great, the sound is good, I didn’t run into any bugs or crashes, and it ran well on my system at max settings. The UI works well, the game loads up quickly, and basically all other technical aspects are solid and don’t get in your way.
I mentioned before that the game is very text-heavy to start, and throws a LOT of back story at you. I think some of this could have been done via a longer intro movie, but once you have that baseline established (basically the middle of act 1), the plot kicks in and off you go. The pacing was good, at least until the very end. At the end of act 2, you realize you can cast your own edicts, but right after that you immediately go from possibly being loyal to Kyros to considering yourself a potential equal. That felt a little abrupt to me, as did the final hour or two where I killed so many key characters right in a row.
Perhaps this is intended, in that once things escalate, they would escalate QUICK, but I would have likely a slightly smoother transition from Fatebinder to potential Overlord. Also I might have missed it, but it seems the only choice you have is to accept being super powerful and independent, rather than gaining power but staying loyal to Kyros/Tunon.
In my play-through I stayed loyal to the Disfavored, and tried to stay on Tunon’s good side. Ultimately I was successful in keeping Ashe alive and to have him serve under me, but I failed my trial with Tunon and had to kill him along with Bleden Mark, which was a bit of a negative in that I failed to achieve my character’s goal with Tunon.
Those bits aside, I really did like the other parts of the story. The progression with gaining the towers was great, as was the interaction with the different edicts and what working with them means for who you are. I also really liked the slow unfolding of how power works in the game, in that as more people believe or fear you, the more power you have. This was explained well both with Ashe and his backstory, and ultimately how you become powerful enough to cast an edict. The whole thing of course feels very “believe in Jesus” religious, only here you are real and actually gain real power from others believing in you. I also like how this ties back to Kyros, where its easy to see that she has great power because the rest of the world believes or is in fear of her.
Speaking of her, I do like that the game kept most of Kyros a mystery, and even the fact that you find out her gender was a big deal. I know some people feel the game ended early and would have liked a confrontation with Kyros to be the ending, but I feel that’s another huge story to tell, fitting for a sequel.
One thing that did bother me about the ending wasn’t so much the story, but the mechanics. I never used either the forge or the library much, and I basically did nothing with the other spire options besides build them. There are just so many unique items in the game, including artifacts, that you really don’t need another source (the forge/library) to gear up. The same can be said for character skills and magic; until about 3/4th of the way through, new stuff feels good and worthwhile, but towards the very end you just don’t need more, and you already feel plenty powerful.
Minor issues aside however, Tyranny really is a fantastic RPG, with a truly unique story and setting. Plus it also greatly benefits from multiple play-throughs; I’m on my second right now, and already so many things are different because of my choices. Choices in Tyranny truly do matter, and more often than not, in surprising ways. Pick it up if you are an RPG fan, its a great ride.