The Double-A Team: Tyranny's greatness shouldn't be so much of a secret

A quick blast of evil.

Tyranny, the Infinity Engine-esque RPG Kickstarted by Obsidian that isn't Pillars of Eternity, is hands down one of the finest RPGs I've ever played. It takes the familiar template Bioware laid down with Baldur's Gate and does interesting and innovative things with the world and story, all wrapped up in a relatively lean thirty-hour playtime. Unfortunately, I'm the only bugger who's played it.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Some other people must have played it, obviously. There's a review on this very website. The problem is that no-one I know has played it, so I can't discuss all the twists and turns with anyone. It's very frustrating, so I resolved to do something about it.

Friends, I have made it my life's mission to get people to play this bloody game, and the fine folks at Eurogamer have allowed me to use their fancy digital grimoire to spread my message. I won't tell you how many fetch quests I had to do for them first.

The unique selling point of Tyranny is that you get to be the bad guy. It's nothing new per se, plenty of RPGs let you kick puppies and threaten peasants for a few extra coppers, but Tyranny is entirely structured around your position as an agent of the evil Overlord Kyros, the same way The Witcher is entirely about witching. Witchering. Whatever.

In reality, very few people actually think they're evil and that's very much reflected in the game. You're not required to engage in cackling pantomime villainy and even the more extreme NPCs are presented as well-rounded individuals who have very good reasons for doing what they do. Do you want to side with the murderous, yet staunchly equal-opportunities sorcerer, or the cheerfully avuncular fascist?

While by no means a sandbox, being tied to a mostly linear narrative, Tyranny gives plenty of freedom to stamp your character's identity on the story. Right out of the gate, you're given the option to throw in with the disparate factions who are resisting Kyros' rule, although whether that's out of genuine altruism or a desire to build your own power base is up to you.

That's the key to Tyranny's greatness. By narrowing its focus, it can support all manner of different choices (and consequences, natch). No, you can't ignore the story to start a farm, but it's very rare that you can't navigate the game's various scenarios in exactly the way you'd like to. The icing on this devilish food cake is that it doesn't take an age to finish. Thirty hours is lengthy enough, but by the standards of your Dragon Ages and Mass Effects, it's pretty tight. As a result, it's one of the few games I've played in the past decade or so that I've finished more than once, which is a real boon for an RPG that offers so many options.

I've not even scratched the surface of how much I love this game. I even enjoy the fights and I hate real-time-with-pause combat. It's been in numerous bundles and giveaways, so there's a good chance you own it already. If you enjoy a good RPG, you owe it to yourself to check it out. Or at least do it for me, so I have someone to talk to about Tyranny.

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About the author

Caelyn Ellis

Caelyn Ellis

Contributor

Caelyn loves Soulslikes, RPGs and collecting tiny giant robots, and she's still not over the death of Optimus Prime.

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