Tyranny was that game that I’ve been following it for a while, but never was quite excited about it. Having had many issues with the genre in the past, I was ready to bounce of it. Instead, despite having played so little (5~ days left), I’ve found myself wanting to play it more. And to talk about it.
I have never been much of a fan of cRPGs. While, in theory, I should love them, in practice they fail to grab me with the plot or the world, or become boring combat-fests against the Nth random encounter group that have no real point in the overall arch of the story. From character creation to the opening sequences, they all boil down to fantasy’s very common trope of kid from a small town.
Much like Divinity: Original Sin, Tyranny gives the player and characters a task from the get-go. In Divinity, we are tasked with investigating a murder. In Tyranny, we are tasked with ensuring that a rebellion is dealt with. The key difference with Tyranny, though, is the hard limit of eight days. The dialogue and actions immediately after are all about that, which serves to provide the player with an objective to focus on, and also a cohesive state to the world.
Tyranny goes much further, though, not unlike Firewatch, in helping the player be part of the world. Shortly after character creation, the game leads you through establishing your reputation in the world and how you affected the course of the conquest. These choose-your-own-adventure style decisions influence how the factions within the game treat you, and why they might have heard of you (or you of them).
As a Fatebinder sent to oversee the suppression of the local rebellion, you are asked to balance (or not) how you treat the different factions while still nudging them towards what needs to be done. This might involve suggesting that a prisoner should kill her own allies should she want to prove herself and keep her life. Another one might involve choosing whether to let an elderly man be trialed and executed in probably too-painful-to-think-of ways by one of the factions because he aided the rebels in his town, or, perhaps, to kill him yourself.
Furthermore, the world around you wants to punish your from deviating from your environment, and the strong faction identity from most NPCs means that attempts to please both sides will, eventually, fail. I don’t think moderates have much space in this world, and I don’t think I would ever feel I’d belong with a faction. Not that the role of my character would allow much more – achieving her goals come first, everything else second. Thus, I’ve been playing a character with many faces that stays or does what fits the moment more than what she believes in, reserving her hopes to not cause unnecessary injury for the moments among trusted companions – but even among them she treads carefully.
I’m positive much there will be much to be said about strongly defined, with us or against us style factions (which have some clear parallels to reality), and there will be space to discuss situations of greater good vs. doing the right thing, fitting in vs. what you believe in.
I will be playing more Tyranny, because oh do I want to see where it goes.