Pyre, a brand new title by Supergiant Games (makers of Bastion and Transistor), has been released today on PS4 and PC. In Pyre, players control a character who is an exile in a high fantasy version of purgatory. Upon meeting three other exiles, the player discovers that they are the only literate one among them and is named “the Reader”. The other exiles recruit the Reader to help them travel across purgatory, where they are looking to cleanse their souls by defeating other exiles by opening a “Rite”. Rites are Pyre’s combat system, where two teams of exiles meet on a field with two columns of flame at opposite ends (aptly named “pyres”).
Rites are 3-on-3 battles where the teams attempt to launch a glowing orb that originates in the middle of the arena into their opponent’s pyre. Throwing the orb into the pyre damages it, and the goal is to completely destroy the opponent’s pyre. The player can only control one character at a time, but can freely switch between any of the three. Any of the exiles can pick up the orb, but holding the orb makes the controlled character vulnerable to the opponent’s aura (a small space around each character). If the exile touches an opponent’s aura, they drop the orb and are temporarily removed from the arena.
Different characters have a number of skills to use in combat, such as dashing and shooting projectiles. In the larger game, players can improve these skills through the use of a skill tree. Each character has different innate abilities, such as the standard trade-off of being weak but agile or slow but powerful. Pyre includes a local multiplayer which will allow two players controlling separate teams to compete against one another.
On top of unique gameplay, Pyre offers gorgeous art and no doubt a soundtrack to die for, if Bastion and Transistor are anything to go by. The story is told through visual novel-style on-screen narrative passages. Said passages include a hyperlink-type system to allow the player to zone in on particular phrases and explore the story further. The party can only travel during the day and must stop at night, at which point the Reader must determine what actions to take to support or improve the party. For example, the Reader can suggest scavenging for supplies, learning more of the world’s lore, or mentoring the three exiles to improve their skills.
Pyre is out now for digital release on PlayStation 4 and PC for Windows, and you better believe I’ll be all over it as soon as I can get my hands on it.